CHICAGO – On the twelfth anniversary of the U.S. Gulf War and imposition of sanctions against Iraq, Aug. 6, Chicagoans joined a national drive to collect Pledges of Peace, saying “No” to a new war on Iraq and “Yes” to ending the sanctions. The petition drive, a response to the Bush administration’s threatened attack on Iraq, is spearheaded by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and is being organized here by Chicago Peace Response. Locally, the drive includes a diverse collection of grassroots and community groups, including local club members of the Communist Party.
The response to the Peace Pledge in one Black community in Chicago’s Southside was positive. Many Black residents were happy to sign for peace. Among their reasons for signing the Peace Pledge, many voiced concern over the financial repercussions and the possibility of destabilizing the already weakened American economy with higher gas prices and higher costs of oil production.
One Black petition signer told the World, “It’s our people who will have to fight and die if we go to war.” Another senior citizen said Bush’s escalation of violence will not have the intended effects. “If we attack them, won’t they attack us?” she asked. “What does Iraq have to do with Osama? I don’t think that the Iraqis should pay for something they didn’t do. We already went to war with Iraq, and that didn’t get us much.” She concluded, “If Bush makes us go to war then poor people will have to fight while he goes on vacation.”
Sarah Staggs, an activist with Chicago Peace Response, speaking of the war on terrorism, remarked, “People are seeing through the links of American corporate desires and the Bush administration.” The national petition drive seeks to stop the Bush administration’s attempt to spread its “war on terrorism” to Iraq. Signers pledge to support peace for Iraq by contacting their elected officials and other actions such as rallies, phone and letter campaigns, and vigils.
In addition to the Peace Pledge campaign, the AFSC is aiding the Iraqi people in defiance of U.S. sanctions by helping to build a new water treatment plant in Iraq. Many reports detail the extent of suffering caused by the U.S.-led and United Nations-enforced sanctions. These include lack of health care, lack of clean drinking water, and economic deprivation.
The Peace Pledge is available on the web at www.peaceresponse.org/pledge/index.shtml.
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