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News :: Anarchism : Imperialism : Peace : Protest, Resistance and Direct Action
Federal Judge orders Fine
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by Voices in The Wilderness
(No verified email address)
14 Aug 2005
Chicago-On August 12, 2005 U.S. Federal District Judge John Bates
ordered payment of a $20,000 fine imposed against Voices in the Wilderness.
Voices was fined for bringing medicine to Iraq in a classic campaign of
open nonviolent civil disobedience to challenge the economic sanctions
imposed by the U.S. and the U.N. against Iraq. The U.S. Treasury
Department initially imposed the fine in 2002, days after Voices participated
in international actions to oppose the U.S. buildup for war against
Voices in the Wilderness issued the following statement:
"Today, the judiciary branch of the U.S. government completed a perfect
trifecta of inhumanity in upholding a $20,000 fine against Voices in
the Wilderness for bringing medicine to Iraqi citizens. Judge Bates
agrees that it was lawful and proper for the U.S. government to deny needed
drugs and medical supplies to Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, despite
the evidence that several hundred thousand innocent children were dying
because of brutal economic sanctions.
"Voices will not pay a penny of this fine. The economic sanctions
regime imposed brutal and lethal punishment on Iraqi people. The U.S.
government would not allow Iraq to rebuild its water treatment system after
the U.S. military deliberately destroyed it in 1991. The U.S. government
denied Iraq the ability to purchase blood bags, medical needles and
medicine in adequate supplies-destroying Iraq's health care system.
"We chose to travel to Iraq in order to openly challenge our country's
war against the Iraqi people. We fully understood that our acts could
result in criminal or civil charges. We acted because when our country's
government is committing a grievous, criminal act, it is incumbent upon
each of us to challenge in every nonviolent manner possible the acts of
"We continue to oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which continues the
devastation of the Iraqi people. Over the past two years of occupation,
the health care and water systems in Iraq have not improved. Nearly
300,000 children under the age of 5 now suffer from acute child
malnutrition. It's likely that over 100,000 Iraqis have died because of the
occupation-either killed outright by military action or died because of the
lack of safe drinking water, adequate health care, lack of food. What
has our country wrought in Iraq?
"We choose to continue our non-cooperation with the government's war on
the Iraqi people through the simple act of refusing to pay this fine.
To pay the fine would be to collaborate with the U.S. government's
ongoing war against Iraq. We will not collaborate.
"We fully understand that the U.S. government may take other action
against Voices in the Wilderness, or possibly us as individuals, for our
continued refusal to collaborate with the government's policies. But we
invite representatives from the government to enter into dialogue with
us about how best to correct the misguided, ill-conceived and criminal
acts of our country towards the Iraqi people. We invite all U.S.
citizens to pause and consider how we might bring about an end to the blood
shed and the violence in Iraq-an end to the occupation and payment of
reparations to Iraq for the devastation our country has wrought upon the
Iraqi people these past 15 years.
"We pause to ponder the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who asked of
himself and his co-conspirators in resistance to Hitler, whether they were
yet of any use. We too live in times of unspeakable peril and violence.
We too live in times when questioning and resisting our government is
the one path remaining to act for justice. We too have struggled and
seen untold numbers of innocent people die at our government's hand. We
too answer as Bonhoeffer did, that yes, indeed, our acts and fidelity to
our brothers and sisters throughout the world are not only of use, but
of absolute necessity. We invite all to join us in a conspiracy of life
to end our country's war against the Iraqi people."
This work is in the public domain