Sanctions as a Tool of War: A Comparative Look at Iraq and Iran

A Havaar forum hosted by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

The Graduate Center at the City University of New York
Skylight Room (Room 9100)
365 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10016

April 29, 7PM-9PM

Sanctions are still presented in mainstream political discussion as a peaceful alternative to military intervention. But the experience of Iraqis, whose society was devastated by over ten years of harsh economic sanctions, shows us that sanctions against countries that defy Washington are a form of collective punishment used to augment the effects of war and/or lay the groundwork for war. While sanctions against Iran have yet to reach the levels and effects experienced in Iraq, there is much to be learned by placing these two different cases in a common frame. How are sanctions used by the US as part of its efforts to dominate the Middle East? What are the effects they have on everyday life and on social movements? And how have activists attempted to organize transnational solidarity to oppose sanctions? This event will look at previous campaigns against sanctions in Iraq and help launch a new campaign against the medical shortages caused by sanctions against Iran.

Speakers:

Dr. Joy Gordon is a philosophy professor at Fairfield University, JD from Boston University School of Law, PhD from Yale. Published extensively on the UN sanctions on Iraq, including “Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions” (Harvard University Press 2010). Currently completing a book on the ethical aspects of economic sanctions. Recent work on the Iran sanctions includes “UN Sanctions on Iran: The Dance of Mutual Deniability

Denis J. Halliday worked for the UN for 34 years – first as junior officer in Iran (1964-66), and finally as UN Assistant Secretary-General 1994-98. He volunteered to be the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq in 1997 and remained in his post until 1998 when he resigned in protest of the sanctions.

Hadi Kahalzadeh served as an economist for Iran’s Social Security Organization from 2003 to 2011. He was a member of the Iranian Students Office for Consolidating Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), the only democratically elected student body across the country. After graduating, he joined the progressive political party, the Iranian Alumni Organization, which was a strong ally of student, women’s rights, and labor movements. In 2006, Hadi was elected as a member of board of directors of Iran Parties House (IPH). He currently serves as a visiting scholar at the department of political science at Valdosta State University in Georgia.

Bitta Mostofi currently is a nonprofit, immigrant rights attorney. She has also worked as a civil rights attorney and served on the board of directors of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Bitta has participated in anti-war and anti-sanctions campaigns, and was a co-coordinator for the Voices in the Wilderness; Iraq Peace Team from 2002-2003. In recent years Bitta has co-founded and worked with Where is my Vote, New York, which formed in the after math of the highly disputed 2009 Iranian presidential elections. WIMV-NY strives to raise the level of international solidarity with the citizens of Iran in their movement towards social justice and democratic change and to speak out against the Iranian state’s human rights violations.

Sina is a founding member of Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression and an organizer with Havaar’s campaign to alleviate sanctions-related medical shortages in Iran.

Co-sponsored by Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression, Raha Iranian Feminist Collective, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and the War Resisters League.

Please RSVP to our event posting on Facebook and help us spread the word.

Havaar Launches Campaign to Help Iranians Access Life Saving Medicine

 

Sign the Petition Now by Clicking Here!

designed by Asal Farshchi

designed by Asal Farshchi

Sanctions against Iran are often presented as a humane alternative to war, but in fact they have caused massive economic hardship and a social crisis in Iranian society that has reached life-threatening proportions. The U.S.-led sanctions regime is strangling the Iranian people, cutting off trade relations, financial transactions, and access to vital goods. The results have been stark and devastating: currency devaluation, skyrocketing inflation, factory closures, layoffs, unpaid wages, and now a major healthcare crisis.

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Without access to the international banking system, Iranians are finding it increasingly difficult to import life-saving medicines or the raw materials for many domestically-made drugs—a situation which a January 8, 2013 Associated Press report deemed “a sign of the domino effect of sanctions on everyday life.” The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the U.S. agency that regulates sanctions, has officially exempted medicine-related transactions as a humanitarian gesture. However, at this point few banks are willing to do business with Iranian pharmaceutical importers. Shortages and steep price increases of drugs used to treat cancer, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis and other ailments have put hundreds of thousands at risk and resulted in an unknown but increasing number of deaths.

Sanction Campaign 2

This amounts to collective punishment of an entire population. Sanctions and the constant threat of military intervention by the U.S. and Israel target the very people who have already been struggling to live under a corrupt government that has mismanaged the economy and thwarted basic democratic rights. The resulting state of emergency in Iran has only strengthened the hand of government officials  who seek to crush popular movements inside the country under the pretext of defending national security.

Havaar continues to speak out against this silent war, and today we are announcing an effort to pressure international banking institutions to process financial transactions related to the importation of medicine so that Iranians can acquire life-saving drugs.

We are asking individuals and organizations to join us by signing our petition addressed to CEOs of major banks. This petition is just the first step in a broader campaign against the entire sanctions regime: rather than being an alternative to war, sanctions wreak havoc on the life chances of entire populations and are often used to pave the way for military intervention, as our brothers and sisters in Iraq have experienced firsthand.

Sanction Campaign 3

Havaar’s guiding principle is to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people. Therefore, we will continue to actively oppose threats of military attack from the U.S. and Israel—as well as other forms of external intervention in Iran—and the repression that the Iranian government continues to direct against its own people.

Please sign the petition today, share it on social networks, and be sure to follow Havaar on Facebook for future updates.

Peace and solidarity,
Havaar

Havaar Joins Coalition to Prevent the Blockade of Humanitarian Exemptions

FCNL led a broad coalition of 25 national organizations, including Havaar, calling on President Barack Obama to take action to ensure that Iranian civilians are not blocked from accessing food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods under existing U.S. sanctions.

According to recent reports, a growing number of Iranians are facing difficulties accessing food and medicine, in part due to sanctions imposed by the United States. The Iranian government’s mismanagement and lack of economic transparency has also worsened the situations for Iranian patients, but there are still simple actions that the U.S. government can take to ensure that Iranians are not blocked from accessing food and medicine due to the U.S. sanctions regime.

To read the full letter and names of signatories, please click here.

Sanctions; Silent War Performance Project Draws Attention to Harmful Effects of Sanctions in Iran

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December 20, 2012, New York—Yesterday Iranian artist Sanaz Sohrabi—with the co-sponsorship and help of Havaar and Sanctioned Life—brought a unique performance project to the streets of Manhattan.

Iranian civilians are increasingly feeling the effects of a strict U.S.-led sanctions regime that has severely curtailed economic activity in Iran (the economic mismanagement of the Iranian government is exacerbating the situation). One of the most devastating effects is a lack of access to crucial medicines. Patients suffering from cancer, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments which require drug regimens in order to be treated are finding those medicines increasingly unavailable, either due to shortages or to large price increases that make them unaffordable. The result has been significant suffering, including the recent death of Manouchehr Esmaili, a 15-year-old boy with hemophilia who passed away last month when his parents were unable to find the medicine he required.

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To communicate the severity of this situation, Sohrabi engaged in a performative art piece which involved filling thousands of transparent pill capsules with messages from actual Iranians describing how sanctions have had an impact on their health or the health of loved ones. These capsules were then spread out on the streets near the United Nations and also handed out to passersby who were encouraged to read the messages inside.

Said one Iranian whose words were placed inside the capsules: “I am a patient with a liver transplant. To sustain a liver transplant I need to use particular drugs. Unfortunately like all others I am having problems acquiring them.” There are far too many similar situations all over Iran.

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“My sister is a pharmacist in Iran and she used to tell me stories about the effect of sanctions on medicine availability and patients,” said Sohrabi. “When I moved to America, I felt that these stories were unknown and invisible to people here, so I decided to make them visible and be a messenger for those in Iran whose voices are not being heard.”

 Sohrabi and members of Havaar and Sanctioned Life are available to discuss the project and the sanctions situation in Iran.

Performance Art in front of UN by Sanaz Sohrabi: “Sanctions: Silent War”

برای وارد کردن روایتِ خود از چگونگی تأثیر تحریم‌ها روی سلامت خود یا عزیزان‌تان، لینک زیر را دنبال کنید

http://sanctionedlife.com/?portfolio=performance-art-by-sanaz-sohrabi

Sanaz Sohrabi:

Manouchehr Esmaili, a 15-year-old boy suffering from hemophilia died last month as a result of sanctions that limit the production and imports of medicine.* These restrictions prevented his family from accessing the necessary treatments for his condition. However, he is not the only victim of sanctions. There are 26,000 patients suffering from coagulation and complex disorders including hemophilia, thalassemia. There are many more patients who cannot afford or access their medicine anymore. Sanctions as the new silent war, have adverse impacts on the availability and price of medicines in Iran and the battlefield is the life of civilians; in particular children, women, chronically ill patients and the elderly. Imposing sanctions without ensuring a safety-net for at-risk civilians is comparable to attacking a hospital during wartime

In “Sanctions; Silent War”, I will fill 26,000 pill capsules with real-life stories of Iranian patients whose lives have been affected by sanctions. I place the capsules in a line on the ground, in front of the UN headquarter in Manhattan, NY.Then I will tape the string of capsules to my body and give them out to people passing by, asking them to open the capsule and read the message inside. The aim of “Sanctions; Silent War” is to deliver this message: that sanctions are holding the health of the Iranian people hostage, specially children, women, chronically ill patients, and the elderly

Sanctions are not an alternative to war, but they are war by other means. While western governments insist that sanctions only target the Iranian government and they are not directed at civilians, reality tells us a different story. The UN Security Council and western governments have to become aware of the damages caused by sanctions and facilitate the import of medicine to Iran, otherwise we will be witnessing catastrophic consequences of a silent war. One of the solutions is the issuance of a General License by western Administrations exempting medicine transactions

The broad, crippling and indiscriminate sanctions mean that humanitarian exemptions, which include medicine, do not stand up. Iranian people in general, and patients in particular, should not pay the price of conflicts between governments

I would like to invite all concerned New Yorkers and residents of cities around to join me on Tuesday December 18th at 11:00 am for this public performance art

In cooperation with
Havaar: Iranian Initiative against War, Sanctions and State Repression
http://www.facebook.com/havaarforjustice

Sanctioned Life
http://www.facebook.com/sanctionedlife

*”Haemophiliac Iranian boy ‘dies after sanctions disrupt medicine supplies”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/14/sanctions-stop-medicines-reaching-sick-iranians

NY – Protest Israeli Crimes in Gaza

What? Come to protest Israeli crimes in Gaza as Israel continues to attack Gaza, killing innocent people and destroying infrastructure.

When? Thursday, 11/15/2012 – 5pm to 7pm

Where? In front of the Israeli Consulate (42nd st and 2nd ave)

Media Contacts:

Lamis Deek: 1 917-607-0072 / 1 212-226-3999
Raja Abdulhaq: 1 347-671-9135Endorsers so far:
Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition – NY
American Muslims for Palestine – NY
Arab Muslim American Federation – NY
Muslim American Society – NY
International Action Center
New York University- Students for Justice in Palestine
Brooklyn College – Students for Justice in Palestine
Hunter College- Students for Justice in Palestine
Society of American Egyptians
International Socialist Organization
Labor for Palestine
CULTURES OF RESISTANCE NETWORK
ANSWER Coalition
International League of Peoples Struggle – US
Existence is Resistance
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
New York City Labor Against the War
John Jay Students for Justice in Palestine
Advocates for Peace and Social Justice
Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle of NY
Rutgers University- Students for Justice in Palestine
Columbia University- Students for Justice in Palestine
Coalition to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Adalah NY
Havaar: Iranian Initiative against War, Sanctions and State Repression

Ahmadinejad visits; Havaar Protests Iranian State Repression & US-Led Sanctions & War Threats

The Iranian head of state, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will be attending the UN General Assembly in the last week of September. Since Ahmadinejad took office in the aftermath of the rigged elections in 2009, he has repeatedly denied the existence of political prisoners and human rights violations in Iran. Join Havaar as we raise our voices in protest against the unjust detention of the many political prisoners, union workers and prisoners of conscience in Iran.

Many of the political prisoners have spoken against the sanctions imposed by the United States and threats of military attack against Iran. Join us as we take this opportunity to once again demand the and end to the unethical and illegitimate sanctions policy and war mongering imposed by the United states and Israel.

It is worth noting, that this will be the last time that Ahmadinejad will be addressing the UN, so, let’s make sure we send him off properly!The exact time and location of the protest will be determined after the information regarding Ahmadinejad’s stay becomes available. So stay tuned for updates on the event page!

Click here for more information.

Letter to OFAC to Enable Humanitarian Assistance

Today, Havaar along with a number of other Iranian-American organizations submitted a letter to Adam Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the U.S. Department of Treasury. In the letter, the coalition of organizations urged OFAC to take immediate action to enable humanitarian assistance for the victims of the recent earthquakes in Northwestern Iran and specifically noted that the current sanctions against Iran limit individual and organizational ability to provide medicine, food, supplies, and monetary assistance to these victims as they begin to rebuild their lives. Continue reading