BY LISA MACDONALD
On August 6, the United States' brutal sanctions on Iraq will have been in place for 11 years. The Socialist Alliance, along with the Worker Communist Parties of Iraq and Iran, and the Committee to Defend Iraqi Women's Rights, has called protest actions in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for that day. In Sydney the protest has also been endorsed by the Free the Refugees Campaign.
The actions, to be held at US consulates and embassies, will express Australians' solidarity with the Iraqi people's struggle against US imperialism and the Hussein dictatorship, and condemn the Australian government's support for the US's brutal policy in the Middle East.
Explaining the decision, Socialist Alliance national convenor Peter Boyle said, "The sanctions have caused the deaths of 1.5 million people in Iraq. Almost half of those who have died of starvation and preventable diseases have been children under five years old".
The unemployment rate in Iraq is now 60% and more than half of the Iraqi population lives below the poverty line. The average income of Iraqis has dropped to $3 per month.
The US government claims that it is necessary to maintain the sanctions to rid Iraq of Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" — a claim disputed even by the United Nations.
"The sanctions are wreaking mass destruction every day", Boyle argues. "In the process, they are weakening the ability of the mass of people in Iraq to resist the brutality of the Hussein regime."
An international campaign for the immediate lifting of the sanctions has been gathering more support over recent years as the human costs of the embargo mount. August 6 actions will be held worldwide to demand that all governments put more pressure on the US to lift the sanctions.
For more information about the actions, call the Socialist Alliance in Sydney on 9690 1977, Melbourne on 9639 8622, Canberra on 6247 2424.