News Release

* Humanitarian Crisis * Lifting the Sanctions

On Thursday, less than 24 hours after issuing a press release highlighting the apparent failures of the U.S. military’s humanitarian operations in Iraq, the international group Voices in the Wilderness was banned from meeting with the U.S. Civil Military Operations Center or with international journalists at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. The group asks: “If the freedom to critique U.S. policies in Iraq regarding humanitarian issues is being curtailed already, then exactly what does this mean for building ‘democracy’ there?” A photo of the military’s listing of which groups are allowed into the hotel (noting in capital letters that Voices has been barred) is available at www.electroniciraq.net/news/677.shtml.

Here are excerpts of the April 16 news release that Voices in the Wilderness issued just prior to the U.S. military’s action to restrict the group:

“Voices in the Wilderness representatives met today with the U.S. Military’s Civil Military Operations Center in their headquarters at the Palestine Hotel to discuss the emergency, humanitarian crisis facing Baghdad. Trash removal has not occurred for a month. Electricity, sanitation and communications were all seriously damaged during the U.S. war, and have yet to be restored in Baghdad. Cholera outbreaks have been reported in Basra, and rumored to have been found in the central Iraqi city of Hilla. Some of the local clinics are up and running, but medications for conditions such as hypertension and diabetes are no longer available. Quality control equipment and systems are also unavailable, and the lack of quality control could lead to serious problems in treatment, as well as creating the potential for epidemics due to contaminated blood products. The previous distribution system set up under the “Oil-for-Food” program is in total collapse, and — unless essential services are immediately restored — Iraq faces a humanitarian catastrophe….”

Contacts for Voices in the Wilderness in the United States: Bitta Mostofi, Tom Walsh or Danny Muller at vitw@vitw.org

SAM HUSSEINI
Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini said today: “Paul Wolfowitz yesterday called for the ending of the economic sanctions, saying that the Iraqi people ‘have suffered enough.’ Now, this is quite an admission. While some protested for years about the economic sanctions because of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths they caused, the U.S. government continuously responded that it was Saddam Hussein’s regime and not the sanctions that was to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people. Now that it’s convenient for them, the Bush administration is moving to lift the sanctions immediately. Given the belated admission by the U.S. government of the effects of the sanctions, we must come to grips with the realization that the U.S. government has conducted a nearly 13-year war of military and economic warfare against Iraq. This siege of a civilian population, as a matter of U.S. policy, was maintained regardless of the conduct of the Iraqi regime and so violated U.N. Security Council resolution 687, which stipulated that the economic sanctions should be lifted when Iraq was verified to be free of weapons of mass destruction, a subject the Bush administration seems to have suddenly lost interest in.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167