A person from Quebec-Canada and five from the U.S.A.
leave to Iraq to express their solidarity with the civilian population.
Québec City, May 6, 2002 : Michaël Lessard, student at the Masters in International Relations (at Laval University in Quebec), leaves for Iraq this Monday (May 6) as a gesture of solidarity with the Iraqi civilian population and for a fact-finding mission. The Iraqi society is undeniably the main victim of a war between Iraq and the United States fought through "economic sanctions" (aerial and naval blockades) and sporadic bombings ; a murderous conflict in which the Canadian government fully participates. This mission of international solidarity and of observation, from the 8th to the 18th of May 2002, was made possible with the generous support of numerous individuals and associations in Quebec.
M. Lessard will participate in the Iraq Water Project (www.iraqwaterproject.org) established by Veterans for Peace (VFP ; www.veteransforpeace.org), a U.S. NGO. The team of seven will help repair two water treatment plants, visit the treatment plants repaired the years before and will visit schools and hospitals in five regions of Iraq. This project aims at making North-Americans more aware that the Coalition intentionally destroyed civilian infrastructure in Iraq during the Golf War (1990-) and of the dreadful effects of these sanctions which constitute a collective punishment incompatible with the International Humanitarian Laws and a gross violation of fundamental human rights.
This will also be a mission of observation for M. Lessards studies. "The objective is not to state anew the dreadful effects already documented by UN agencies, such as the UNICEF or the WHO, for over a decade : we know, you know and the Canadian government has been amply informed," declared M. Lessard. Before writing his masters essay about this crisis, M. Lessard wishes to better understand what are living the day to day Iraqis by meeting them directly.
With this press release, we hope Canadian citizens will make more effort to inform themselves about the cruel effects of this blockade on the civilian population of Iraq and, mostly, that journalists will write about the facts beyond the justifications put forth by those blinded by patriotism, racism and/or political/economic interests. Michaël Lessard expressed himself as follows before his departure :
"I am going to Iraq to touch the people and to say : I am here to express, in the name of many people and associations in Quebec, that we share with you the same humanity. These sanctions being a Crime against Humanity, they are also a crime against us. With this concrete gesture, I will go to touch people that we have cut-off from the world and to demonstrate that the human beings in Iraq are not and have never been enemies. I will meet children that are destined to die because of the medication shortfalls that we provoke all knowingly. I will proclaim that I am not responsible for this crime, to clean the blood that the Canadian government has put on my hands. Those who break the silence and protest this State terrorism are no longer responsible. I will return to denounce loud and clear the active complicity of the Canadian government in a Crime against Humanity, in the most legal and serious sense of the term."
With the financial support, for a study related trip, of the "Association of Laval University students enrolled in higher studies" (l'Association des étudiants et des étudiantes de Laval inscrits aux études supérieures : AELIÉS).
With the financial and political support of the following associations and networks :
The Civic Network for the
Right to Life of Civilian Populations and Nations (DroitVP)
International chapter and the Quebec chapter.
The "International network for Human Rights"
Le Réseau international pour les Droits Humains (RIDH)
International solidarity particularly with South America and Africa.
The regional coalition Operation Quebec Spring 2001 (OQP 2001)
la coalition régionale Opération Québec Printemps 2001 (OQP 2001)
composed of twenty or so groups and organizations.
The "Political committee of the Limoilou college (Quebec City)"
Le Comité politique du CÉGEP de Limoilou
The "Student association of the Limoilou college (Quebec City)"
l'Association étudiante du CÉGEP de Limoilou
The "Student committee for Arab Studies of the Montreal University"
le Comité étudiant en études arabes (CEEA) de l'Université de Montréal
- 30 -
Veterans for Peace (VFP)
Vickie Goodwin, Co-chair, Iraq Water Project,
Tom Sager, Coordinator, Iraq Water Project,