Abuse of Iraqi and Afghan Detainees Linked to U.S. Training in Torture at Army's School of the Americas
Interview with Kathy Kelly, founding member, Voices in the Wilderness conducted by Melinda Tuhus
In 1996, a group of Americans founded Voices in the Wilderness to respond to the U..N/U.S. sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990. UNICEF, an arm of the United Nations, determined that by the mid-1990s, the sanctions had led to the death of half a million Iraqi children. The first Persian Gulf War had destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure, and the sanctions prevented the country from rebuilding under Saddam Hussein.
Voices in the Wilderness opposed, first, economic sanctions, and then the U.S. war against the Iraqi people. The group has organized more than 70 delegations to Iraq in deliberate violation of U.N. economic sanctions and U.S. law. Volunteers have lived alongside ordinary Iraqis before and during the U.S. invasion and throughout the current U.S. occupation of Iraq. In defiance of the sanctions, the group publicly delivered modest amounts of medical supplies to children and families in need, for which the organization has been targeted by the government for a civil penalty of $20,000.
Kathy Kelly, a founding member of Voices in the Wilderness, committed civil disobedience last year at the School of the Americas' protest at Fort Benning, Ga. Opponents of the school, which trains Latin American military officers, have long demanded its closure, because many of those trained have committed atrocities against their own people. Kelly served three months in the women's federal prison in Pekin, Ill. earlier this year for committing civil disobedience at the Fort Benning protest. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Kelly at this year's SOA protest on Nov. 20, where the activist talks about what she learned in prison and why opposing the School of the Americas complements her work against the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.
Contact Voices in the Wilderness by calling (773) 784-8065 or visit their website at www.vitw.org
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