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Iraq Activists Offer Hugs, Cookies & Counseling tp 'Battered' UN

A group of American peace activists and Iraqi street children held a demonstration at UN Headquarters in Baghdad today, offering UN workers milk and cookies, as well as free hugs and counseling. The group, from Voices in the Wilderness, a U.S.-based campaign to end sanctions against Iraq, likened the UN to a “battered woman in need of help,” and the U.S. to “her abuser.”
BAGHDAD - January 14 -
WHERE: UN Headquarters, Canal Street
WHEN: 4:30pm, Monday, 14 January, 2002


A group of American peace activists and Iraqi street children held a demonstration at UN Headquarters in Baghdad today, offering UN workers milk and cookies, as well as free hugs and counseling. The group, from Voices in the Wilderness, a U.S.-based campaign to end sanctions against Iraq, likened the UN to a “battered woman in need of help,” and the U.S. to “her abuser.”

Carrying signs and plates of cookies, the children and activists approached UN workers as they left the building at the end of the day, and offered them cookies and hugs. UN personnel were encouraged to “stand up to their attacker,” and “say ‘no’ to the United States.” A small booth was set up for UN personnel who wanted to talk about their feelings on U.S. “violence” against the UN and in Iraq.


Kathy Kelly, the director of Voices in the Wilderness, claimed that, “the UN’s relationship to the US is that of a battered woman to an abusive partner, desperately going to great lengths to provide cover for her abuser. … [but] the entire façade of bureaucratic delays that make up the UN’s efforts in Iraq is absurd. Do any of the UN workers who struggle to provide minute documentation that Iraq isn’t building bombs out of parts for water treatment plants, for example, really believe that the US cares about their work?”


The UN’s own reports state that the U.S.-led international embargo against Iraq has contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths among Iraqi civilians since the sanctions were first imposed in 1990. The activists say that this constitutes a “violation of the UN’s own charter.” They said that by offering forgiveness and love to UN workers, they hoped that this would empower the UN staff to stand up to the U.S. and prevent further attacks against the Iraqi people.


The demonstration occurred on the first day of Benon Sevan’s trip to Iraq. Mr. Sevan is the highest ranking UN official responsible for Iraq. This is his first visit to Iraq in 1½ years.

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