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ACTIVISTS IN BAGHDAD: 'NO BLANK U.N. CHECK FOR BUSH'
Filed October 26, 2002 By Jeremy Scahill
 
On October 26th activists from the Iraq Peace Team demonstrated outside the main United Nations compound. Photo by Thorne Anderson.

BAGHDADÜAs tens of thousands of activists rallied in cities across the world in opposition to a US attack on Iraq, in Baghdad a handful of activists from the Iraq Peace Team demonstrated outside the main United Nations compound.

The activists held a huge "United Nations check" made out to George W. Bush with the amount on the check left blank. Other posters at the demonstration called on the permanent members of the Security Council not to follow the U.S. Congressional resolution giving Bush the authority to unilaterally attack Iraq.

Veteran anti-sanctions activist Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness told Iraqjournal.org: "We're here in front of the United Nations because we believe every member state has a terrific responsibility right now as these very crucial debates take place to say to the U.N.: No blank check to attack Iraq."

This week is very crucial for the future of Iraq. The government here knows that one of the only chances that Iraq has of warding off or delaying a U.S. attack is if U.N. weapons inspectors are allowed to return. The debates this week at the U.N. in New York will be key.

Veteran anti-sanctions activist Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness told Iraqjournal.org: "We're here in front of the United Nations because we believe every member state has a terrific responsibility right now as these very crucial debates take place to say to the UN: No blank check to attack Iraq." Photo by Thorne Anderson.

The massive United Nations compound in Baghdad has recently been renovated, apparently in anticipation of the return of weapons inspectors. But while some U.N. officials express optimism that the inspectors will return, the U.S. has consistently sabotaged these efforts. In 1998, the Clinton administration infiltrated the inspections teams with U.S. spies and conspired with then-Chief Inspector Richard Butler to pull out the inspectors, paving the way for massive U.S. bombing in December of that year.

In recent months, Iraq has expressed its concern that if the inspectors return, Washington will use the inspections as a pretext to attack. The government has also stated that it believes the U.S. may use the inspectors to develop target lists for use in attacks on the country, as Washington did in 1998.

After the activists from the Iraq Peace Team left the U.N. compound, they held a candlelight vigil outside the only official representation Washington has in Baghdad-the U.S. Interest Section, housed inside the Polish embassy.

"It looks like the U.S. interests in Baghdad are oil resources, control of resources that we use in North America," said Cliff Kindy from Indiana, an activist with the Christian Peacemaker Team. Holding up a candle outside of the U.S. Interest Section, he said: "Maybe our candles are a symbol of bringing light into a situation which has been dominated by the interests of empire; that have brought darkness to a country threatened with war. My hope is that light is stronger than darkness, that friendship is stronger than enmity, that building friendships brings security much more than dropping bombs on people."

The Iraq Peace Team is a project of the Chicago-based anti-sanctions movement Voices in the Wilderness. The IPT hopes to maintain a presence of activists inside Iraq in anticipation of and during a U.S.-led attack. The group plans to maintain a daily vigil outside the U.N. compound in Baghdad as the U.N. Security Council debate continues next week.


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Jeremy Scahill is an independent journalist, who reports for the nationally syndicated Radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie Soohen are coordinating Iraqjournal.org, the only website providing regular independent reporting from the ground in Baghdad.


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