PEACES

compiled by Carol Baum

War in Iraq Spurred Negative Consequences for Human Rights Worldwide
In a press release announcing their 2003 Annual Report, Amnesty International charged that “since the rhetoric about war in Iraq began, and through the war itself, human rights have suffered significantly worldwide. The attention the war demanded of world media and the international community provided de facto camouflage for human rights violators from the Philippines to the Ivory Coast. In addition, the politics around the war have ensnared millions of people, rendering them pawns as relationships between nations were forged into new strategic alliances.” For more information, see <www.amnestyusa.org/annualreport/index.html>

Cost of Iraq War Clock
<www.costofwar.com> is a site that tells just how much the war on Iraq is costing, second by second, and what could be purchased instead. On August 19 at 9:24 pm, the cost was $69,597,039,531 and increasing fast (you can watch it increase). That money could have provided 21,308,330 additional children with a year of health care; hired 946,903 additional teachers for a year; or converted 12,428,126 additional cars to natural gas. In the time it took to write this piece, $700,000 more was spent.

There are instructions to add the counter to your own web page, so check out SPC’s at <www.peacecouncil.net>.

US Government Sues Voices in the Wilderness
The US Justice Department has sued Voices in the Wilderness (VitW) to try to collect a fine of $20,000 from VitW for bringing medicines to the people of Iraq. Over the past seven years, VitW has organized more than 65 delegations to Iraq, and many delegates carried symbolic amounts of medicine as an act of civil disobedience against the injustice of the economic sanctions.

Voices in the Wilderness will not pay this fine and calls for 20,000 people to raise their voices in outrage against the injustice and hypocrisy of this lawsuit. You can fax a letter to (202) 307-6777 or mail it to Attorney General John Ashcroft, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530.
VitW also pledges to raise $20,000 in donations for the humanitarian needs of Iraqis. Checks made out to Voices in the Wilderness with “20,000 voices” written in the memo line will go directly to NGOs serving the humanitarian needs of Iraqis. Send checks to Voices in the Wilderness, 5315 N.Clark, PMB #634/ Chicago, IL 60640.

For more information, see <www.nonviolence.org/vitw>.

Occupation Watch
An international coalition of peace and justice groups has recently organized the Baghdad-based International Occupation Watch Center. The Center will monitor the activites of military occupation forces and foreign corporations, host international delegations to Iraq, and keep the international community updated about the occupation forces’ activities. <www.occupationwatch.org>.

ACLU Files Challenge to Patriot Act

On July 30, the American Civil Liberties Union filed the first legal challenge to the Patriot Act, aiming at a section that vastly expands the power of FBI agents to secretly obtain records and personal belongings of innocent people in the United States, including citizens and permanent residents. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six advocacy and community groups whose members and clients believe they are currently the targets of investigations because of their ethnicity, religion and political associations. These groups are the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and The Islamic Center of Portland — Masjed As-Saber. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller are named as the defendants. See <www.aclu.org>.

Ithaca Teenagers’ Trial for “Die-In”

Last December four Ithaca teenage women participated in a die-in at the military recruiter’s office. Their trial was to begin on July 28. Before the trial started the prosecutor asked the judge to order everyone (80+ supporters) except their parents or guardians to leave the courtroom (judges may decide whether to let the public stay or not at the trial of minors). The judge so ordered, but nobody moved. The judge gave the order three times but still no one moved. He was reportedly knocking his head with his hand, saying “What am I going to do with 87 people in contempt?” The court then postponed the trial until September 2.

Bring Them Home Now!
Bring Them Home Now! <www.bringthemhomenow.org> is a campaign of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq. Their mission is “to mobilize military families, veterans, and GIs themselves to demand: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures; and an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations.”

The name was inspired by George W. Bush’s challenge to armed Iraqis resisting occupation to “Bring ‘em on.” Contact them at <BTHN@mfso.org> or PO Box 91233, Raleigh, NC 27675.