grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

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Contents - Archives - War Crimes - GI Special - Student Activism - Links

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

 

End U.S. Led Economic Sanctions Against the Iraqi People
This page has three letters by people with the Traprock community from 1998-99.

Please click on the following link for the Updated Page for 2002 actions and resources. 


1.  Open letter to U.S. Rep. John Olver urging him to oppose economic sanctions against Iraq

Nine neighbors met with U.S. Representative John Olver (MA) on Saturday, February 6th.  All urged him to join the effort to end economic sanctions against Iraq during the 2 1/2 hour meeting.   Rep. Olver asked for more information; for example, he said  he had not heard of depleted uranium.  On behalf of the group, Charlie Jenks did the research and sent him this  letter with a package of the referenced materials on March 8, 1999.  We hope you find the embedded links helpful in your research about sanctions and the continuing war against Iraq.  Several of the links to newspaper articles or editorials have expired.   

Dear Representative Olver:

I am writing to follow-up on our meeting in Amherst on February 6th. First of all, thank you for spending 2 1/2 hours with nine neighbors, representing many others in our communities. They came to encourage you to work against the economic sanctions, which have had a devastating effect on the Iraqi people.

You asked for some additional information and requested that we direct materials to your assistant, Kelly Bovio. I have listed topics on which you sought information with reference to sources and some enclosed materials. You may follow the highlighted links as I posted this letter to the Traprock site at http://www.crocker.com/~traprock. I am continuing to research these issues, and would bring other important information to your attention. These are some of the issues we discussed:

You asked what we should do if we did not have the sanctions. The group did not have consensus on U.S./Iraq policy, except that the economic sanctions are killing the Iraqi people and destroying its society. How about lifting the economic sanctions? As discussed above, the Food for Oil program is not working. A lifting of the economic sanctions would allow Iraq not only to feed its people, but to start to rebuild the infrastructure of its society, e.g. its water system (please see David Sole's paper at http://www.iacenter.org/iraqchallenge/water.htm).

A final point concerns the current escalated bombing campaign. Why are we doing this; is it really over enforcement of "no fly" zones? (The U.N. does not mandate these zones; rather, solely the U.S. and the U.K. impose them). A New York Times editorial, March 3, 1999, argues that "the White House seems to have shifted its military strategy in Iraq to advance the goal of toppling Saddam Hussein." The Times suggests that we are using air strikes to punish the Iraqi military in the hopes that it will overthrow Hussein. The Times argues that the President should let the American people and Congress know its true intent. It seems to me that the President is fighting a war against Iraq with no authorization from Congress, no explanation to the American people and without any mandate from the U.N.

During our meeting, you shared a letter from Representative Conyers that you had signed; you also showed us President Clinton's response. You said that you would mail copies to people at the meeting (we gave our addresses). I have not received anything yet. If you do not have their addresses, I will ensure that everyone who was at the meeting gets copies if you forward the letters to me.

Thank you for the generous amount of time and attention that you gave to these issues. I hope that you will agree that the economic sanctions as applied to Iraq have been ruinous to its people and society; these sanctions must end immediately. Please do whatever you can to relieve the plight of the Iraqi people.

                                                                                olverpic.jpg (21696 bytes)
U.S. Representative John Olver (cener back row) with neighbors at meeting on 2/6/99.


 

2.  Sara Weil, Intern at Traprock Peace Center, made the following remarks to U.S. Representative John Olver (MA) during a 2 1/2 hour meeting on February 6th.  Traprock organized the meeting between Rep. Olver and 9 neighbors, who encouraged him to support the lifting of sanctions against Iraq.

I’m not used to doing this. My strength is not public speaking. I don’t express anger well in any part of my life. I internalize it. I am angry. Our government has obscured the truth about Iraq. It is difficult for American citizens to grasp what is going on there. Real information is very hard to come by. I am very angry at the way the media obscures, under reports and misrepresents the Iraqi situation. I know the level of outrage among U.S. citizens would be undeniable if people had half an idea of what has occurred.

To my eyes, the role of the government on this issue is unimaginable. The propagation of this doctrine leaves me holding my head in my hands for long minutes at a time. My head is in my hands now. What my conscience sees I cannot accept. I am depressed. I am ashamed. I feel betrayed. There is true evil happening and I feel my country and therefore myself are the evil ones and I can’t accept it.

Often I have wanted to leave this country. I don’t want to be here. I am ashamed. I have tried to imagine what would be the linchpin – the words I could say to shake you. I know what really shook me out of my cocoon of ignorance. I had been traveling in Australia. This was in 1993, I think, maybe 94. An Australian told me the U.S. had used depleted uranium in the Gulf War. I was so mad at him. I told him he was lying. He said our own soldiers were carrying these bullets tipped with depleted uranium. The idea was unimaginable to me. Beyond my ability to even consider. It was not possible. Then I found out that it is true. That changed me forever.

What is it for you? What will change you so that you can’t sit silent on this issue: the many tons of depleted uranium we have left strewn about a region once known as the fertile crescent? Are you an environmentalist? The destruction to historic sites? Do you love history? The dying…the death of children – the most vulnerable succumbing to the toxic conditions created by the systematic bombing of the civic infrastructure in the Gulf War: water treatment plants, electric installations, etc. destroyed so that the basic needs of society are unavailable perpetrating disease. And the impossibility of repairing these under the sanctions.

Are you a humanitarian? I thank deeply those committed people who risk their personal rights in this country to go to Iraq and see the things they tell about so that others may know – the doctors, the clergy, and the schoolteachers – the many respected members of our citizenry. Maybe you should go.

What touches you? Maybe you know the history of the Middle East and Iraq since 1921 when the lines were drawn on the map that arbitrarily imposed borders to the satisfaction of Europe and the U.S.; and subsequently the duplicitous policies of this country that in large part have created the politics and recent history of the region…the arrogant, the self-serving, ill-considered, shortsighted policies. Do you know that 30% of Iraqi children under 5 are severely malnourished leading to stunting and developmental problems both mental and physical…That’s as bad as anywhere on Earth. Maybe a list of the items prohibited under sanctions and of what it would mean to live like that would shake you. Or maybe a crystal ball allowing a glimpse of the future.

Imagine this generation of Iraqis growing up under our domination and what that has meant for them. Imagine the anger and resentment they will bring to their adult lives. What of President Saddam Hussein? Admittedly—he is a dictator. Who, remember, also had policies of universal health care and free education for all citizens through university before the Gulf War meant good social conditions despite the political repression! He killed Kurds – so does Turkey. Who has nuclear weapons in the region? Israel. What country has invaded and occupies other nations? Israel.

It’s a joke to say Saddam Hussein is a threat. If anything it is our policies that will create a disaster for us in the future. The bombings have to stop. They are illegal. They are war crimes. They are violations of international law and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The no-fly zones are illegal. They are an imposition of U.S. and Britain outside of the UN The no-fly zones and the bombings are an act of war. It’s unacceptable. The sanctions are murder and genocide. And we, the U.S. are responsible – they are U.S. imposed. The Security Council at the UN cannot lift the sanctions when one country opposes that change. That country is us. I hope you can show me another truth than what I see. I’m a poor voice to be speaking to you. There are a lot of others that would be better. People who have no faith that you are able to change our policy makers or that you are committed to that goal.

Sara Weil, Intern, Traprock Peace Center


3.  The following is Sunny Miller's letter posted shortly after the latest large-scale bombing campaign against Iraq in December, 1998 on the Non-violence web.. 

It is easy to feel ill-equipped to respond adequately when the missiles have already been launched. As children we sat at small desks while the teacher stood at the front of the room.  We were rewarded for being quiet. But we are many and greatly talented. If we put out a call to neighbors to discuss this outrageous assault on Iraqi people they will respond.

Let's stand with a sign tomorrow at noon at your town center! It's of some use and will give you a chance to invite neighbors for 2-way communication is more powerful. I propose that we leaflet, chat on the street tomorrow, make phone calls, encourage our neighbors to take heart and speak to others. By Sunday morning we can have invitations out at most churches. By Sunday afternoon many neighbors will be ready to gather in parish halls, in synagogues, at town halls, at High Schools, or at the local grange. Call us if you find a location!

At every location let's pass the talking stick. Of course we will make special invitations to those back from Iraq, to Students and professionals studying here from other countries, and to some relevant academics. But often don't think to invite the local ROTC, National Guard, the VFW, veterans, nursery school teachers, high school teachers, teens and mothers on welfare.

Let us be sure to invite the whole village. Let us begin with a bit of refreshment via pot-luck, and an open mike or free-for-all of comedic and musical response to the issues of the day, perhaps at the entrance to the meeting hall.. Then to be sure that EVERYONE has a chance to speak let's ring a bell and make announcements -- to begin small discussion circles of six to twelve people.

Let's conclude with a big circle when the talking stick will pass again, with proposals (perhaps even praise)of ALL sorts being considered.  We will want to use I-statements mainly, expressing feelings, to encourage earnest and appreciative DISCOURSE THAT IS NOT AN ARGUMENT but that builds community. We can ask for contributions to shared understanding rather than dumping blame. It's so easy to condemn. It's so much harder to accept that all of us are part of the problem and all of us are part of the solution. It's easy to forget that our response to something terrible can be magnificent. 0ur voices matter. It's hard to accept that our generosity and our love can make a difference to people in Iraq -- as well as with soldiers responding to orders. Great responses are possible.


 

Last Updated October 14, 2002 by Charlie Jenks