30th May, 2003

From Ms Bitta Mostofi and others at Voices in the Wilderness, Chicago

"Bittersweet Days"

Bittersweet days have emerged again. It was bittersweet when the US government began to threaten increased violence against Iraq and was simultaneously met with the largest anti-war movement in history. It was bittersweet when the US declared it was going to begin a military assault on Iraq and member states of the United Nations with veto power declared that they would veto any resolution calling for a military attack. It was bittersweet when the US military dropped the first bombs on a defenseless nation of 26 million innocent people, and in return people all over the world engaged in acts of civil disobedience and protest. With the passing of UN Resolution 1483 the removal of brutal, unjustifiable sanctions has taken place, which is indeed sweet. However, outlined in 1483 is the direct control of Iraqi oil revenues by the US government. A bitter reality.

Since the bombing ceased, our team in Baghdad along with various humanitarian organizations, have witnessed the horror of war and occupation. The information they have provided to us is endless but not reported in most media outlets from the US. A brief look into what the Iraq

Peace Team and humanitarian groups have found creates the following picture:

- Basic services remain inadequate.

- Countless children are at risk of diarrhea and other illnesses related to dirty water. More at

http://electroniciraq.net/news/815.shtml and http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3037823.stm

-Many children are not attending school. We recently received a report that many teachers who have returned to their jobs do so without pay. Go to http://electroniciraq.net/news/825.shtml

- Joblessness:  http://electroniciraq.net/news/770.shtml

- Unexploded ordnance and ammunition, both US and Iraqi-delivered, continue to maim and kill unsuspecting people, particularly children. More at http://electroniciraq.net/news/776.shtml

In the words of Senator Byrd, "What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are 'liberators.' The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but 'liberation' implies the follow up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of 'liberation,' we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years."

From our office in Chicago we remain steadfast in the principles of nonviolence and the necessity to continue a call for the betterment of life in Iraq. With the lifting of sanctions we enter a new phase in our work and hope that you will join us.

Voices in the Wilderness is organising a number of consciousness-raising and resistance events this summer. Write to joe@vitw.org to find out more about the Creative Resistance Summer camp; or to ceylon@vitw.org for more on the Wheels of Justice Tour