Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Protesters Raise Voices against Iraq Sanctions ; US Demonstrators Begin a 40-Day Fast against the 11-Year UN Economic Embargo

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Protesters Raise Voices against Iraq Sanctions ; US Demonstrators Begin a 40-Day Fast against the 11-Year UN Economic Embargo

Article excerpt

New York - Across the street from the United Nations, the sun beats down hard on a small group of poster-toting protesters. They call themselves Voices in the Wilderness, and they come from Chicago to demand that UN sanctions against Iraq be lifted.

Denis Halliday, a former UN assistant Secretary General, perspires visibly in a business suit as he explains to onlookers why the sanctions are a crime against humanity. He says they're not only hurting Iraqi people, but killing them.

"It is of great urgency for those member states not yet irreparably corrupted by the United States to end the killing," Mr. Halliday says gravely. He's standing beside eight members of Voices in the Wilderness who are embarking on a 40-day fast to mark the 11- year anniversary of the sanctions.

Halliday, who first protested the sanctions in 1998 by resigning as UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, is part of a continuing effort by small, determined groups to end the embargo.

They truly are voices in the wilderness, fighting for a spotlight here in New York. One reason for the national media shrug may be that protesters are discussing what is already a general consensus: The sanctions have had a negative effect on the people of Iraq.

"Those who protest seem to forget ... that Hussein represents a very real problem," says Timothy McCarthy, a senior analyst at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, who spent five years in Iraq as a weapons inspector. "They over-generalize the problem. If they refine their argument a little more sharply, they would have more credibility."

Kathy Kelly, who has represented Voices in the Wilderness on 13 trips to Iraq since 1996, says the problem is not so complex. "The sanctions don't work," Ms. Kelly says.

Events in Iraq could also be muffling the protesters' cries for change. On Sunday, a US-led naval force rescued 12 Iraqis on a sinking tanker in the Persian Gulf. The crew was smuggling 2,083 tons of Iraqi oil when the Maritime Interception Force, a 12- nation team devised to enforce the UN oil embargo, pulled the oil- drenched crew from the fast-sinking tanker.

Then, after the US announced Monday that it would pause plans for a large military air strike against Iraq, US fighter planes on Tuesday became the target of Iraqi surface-to-air missiles. They responded by dropping two laser-guided bombs on an air-defense site in northern Iraq.

Much like the disappearing and reappearing of the protesters in the media, Tuesday's bombing is just one in a series of clashes between Iraq and the US. …

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