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Voices in the Wilderness Responds to Raids, re: Money to Iraq

FEBRUARY 21, 2001

Voices in the Wilderness Responds to Raids on Agents that Transfer Money to Iraq
Chicago˜Responding to news that US Customs agents have investigated
efforts by Iraqi families to send desperately needed funds to loved ones
in Iraq, Voices in the Wilderness members again assert determination to
openly violate the US laws which forbid extending the hand of friendship
to ordinary people in Iraq. Sending anything of value or any package
weighing more than 12 ounces violates United States sanctions against

42 Voices in the Wilderness delegations have traveled to Iraq, carrying
medicines and medical relief supplies, since our campaign began on
Martin Luther King‚s birthday, January 15, 1996. Each of our
delegations has returned with eyewitness accounts about the punitive
effects of economic sanctions. Visits with beleaguered children and
families in Iraq help us understand why their loved ones in the United
States would undertake extraordinary steps to aid needy Iraqi relatives
with financial support. We cannot, ourselves, imagine walking away from
the bedsides of dying children in Iraq without reaffirming our
commitment to end the economic sanctions. We will not ourselves be
bound by laws which are cruel and unjust. We feel responsible to help
Americans understand that US residents of Iraqi descent who send money
to their families are engaging in a rational act of compassion, not a
desperate act to fuel terrorism.

We‚re grateful for the support and solidarity which has emerged from a
long list of faith-based and community groups who join us now in our
efforts to use nonviolent civil disobedience to defy the economic
sanctions. Organizations dedicated to peace, justice, human rights and
the alleviation of human suffering have sent delegations to Iraq and
encouraged their membership to explore nonviolent ways to break the
economic sanctions.

We‚re confident that all of the groups and individuals who have
campaigned and petitioned to end the economic sanctions will assert a
collective support for Iraqi families as they face escalated
consequences of the most comprehensive state of siege ever imposed in
modern history.

Voices in the Wilderness, based in Chicago, has already been issued a
$160,000 pre-penalty notice for the so-called crime of bringing toys and
medicine to children and families in Iraq. We wish to reiterate that
we‚ve done exactly that. We‚ll continue to undertake travel to Iraq, we
won‚t pay any penalties, and we invite US government officials to join
us in our efforts to challenge the economic sanctions.

We encourage all who receive this message to help educate their local
media, elected representatives and surrounding community about the
effects of economic sanctions on ordinary Iraqi people. Guided by such
information, it will be easier for people to endorse and laud the
refusal of Iraqi American families to abandon their loved ones.

We also ask all who read this to note that we have gone on record, since
the beginning of this campaign, as a group opposed to the development,
storage, sale and use of all weaponry, including the weapon of economic

Voices in the Wilderness, Chicago office

Voices in the Wilderness
1460 West Carmen Ave
Chicago IL 60640



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