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May 17, 2001
A word from Voices in the Wilderness



Dear Friends,

Greetings from Chicago. It's good to know that kindred spirits are joining in many different campaign efforts to end sanctions against Iraq. Martin Luther King's book 'Why We Can't Wait' comes to mind.

Gearing up for summer and fall, we're planning for nonviolent direct action to communicate with people from the vantage point of a 40 day fast and vigil in New York City, across from the U.S. Mission to the UN. The message we want to convey is:

We are citizens of the U.S. and we don't accept the dictates of U.S. policy. Other countries needn't accept these dictates. Other countries can 'break rank' by trying to either unilaterally break the sanctions and/or by using their influence to persuade the U.S. to change its policies.

We plan to begin on August 6, Hiroshima Day, the 11th year since sanctions against Iraq were first imposed, with a fast from all solid foods, and a vigil at the US Mission to the UN. A core group of people will plan, once a week, to engage in a very simple action of civil disobedience at the U.S. Mission to the UN.¬ We're interested in continuing the fast until September 15, just before UN sessions regarding the rights of children. We hope to build up a small drama of fasting and multiple arrests by the time UN reps arrive in NYC (September).

Concurrent with the last three weeks of fasting, vigil, and civil disobedience, we're inviting student, faith based, and other community groups to set up 'life under siege' tent encampments, ideally for at least 3 days, to represent the situation Iraqis have faced during ten years of sanctions.

Please let us know if you would like more information on how to participate in these actions and join other schools and communities that are planning for these events.

Also on board for summer months:

Tom Jackson has recently completed a very compelling video project entitled 'Greetings from Missile Street'. We can provide copies very easily from the office, and would be very grateful for any insight as to valuable forums where this telling story of the Voices seven week stay in Basra in the summer of 2000 could be screened and distributed.

Lauren Cannon will accompany a British delegation to Iraq, leaving in mid-June, just after new details are to be released by the administration about the new so-called 'smart sanctions' policies. We'll look forward to their reports, upon return.

Stay tuned for audio additions to our website, which are downloadable, transferable to CD, and can complement talks, presentations, and interviews.

Also, please visit our website (www.nonviolence.org/ )for a latest version of 'Frequently Asked Questions' should be posted by the weekend.

The 'Remembering Omran Bus', after completing 150 visits to colleges and communities on the West and East Coasts, the South and the Midwest, will very likely plan for a third Tour, starting September 15 in Vancouver, BC. Tentatively, the Canada Network to End Sanctions (CANESI) is organizing for the Bus to head East across Canada with a large caravan.

The sign on letter to President Bush, posted on our website, now has ten pages of signers. Please consider hand delivering this sign on letter to your elected reps or to aides who handle Middle East issues in their offices. This letter can be printed directly from our website. (www.nonviolence.org/vitw )

It would also be helpful to schedule appointments with your representatives during Memorial Day and July 4 recesses. We hope many of you will be able to participate in EPIC's June Lobby Days www.saveageneration.org . When lobbying your congressional reps, suggest that they visit Iraq themselves to witness life under siege first hand. If they decline, extend an invitation to join a simulated 'Life Under Siege' in their own district or in DC during first weeks of September.

Thank you for all that you do. It is an honor to assist you in providing a voice for so many who have been hurt by oft perceived US 'national interests' based on greed and indifference. Please contact us here in Chica go at any time for further information on the Fast, Life Under Siege, the bus, the Bush letter, the video, or any concerns and suggestions you may have.


Kathy Kelly, Danny Muller, Lauren Cannon, Tom Jackson, Joe Proulx, Jeff Guntzel
for Voices in the Wilderness¬ Chicago
(www.nonviolence.org/ )