Voices For Creative Nonviolence fasts to end Iraq war - Seán Kinane


A group called Voices for Creative Nonviolence is engaged in a 34-day fast in Washington, D.C. in order to end the war on Iraq. Last weekend, on the 19th day of their fast, WMNF’s Seán Kinane spoke with them and has this report.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence is a group based in Chicago, with members from around the country. But they chose the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., for this five-week fast, which they call The Winter of Our Discontent. They want members of Congress to end the war, beginning with voting down the president’s war supplemental bill, as Jeff Leys explains:

“With another $65 billion pending in war funding for the war against Iraq, we’re calling upon Congress to end funding the war, to withdraw the troops, to end the occupation of Iraq. We’re also calling upon Congress to provide full funding of war reparations to Iraq to pay for the damage our country inflicted upon Iraq over the last 15 years of economic and military warfare. We need to begin to use every non-violent lever available to us to bring this war to an end.�

The lever that Leys is currently using is a water-only fast; he has not eaten in more than two weeks. He and his colleagues will continue their fast for several more weeks.

“Two of us are on a water-only fast, two of us are on a juice fast. We’re also being joined by Carmelite sisters around the world who are doing a rolling fast throughout the time period. Another group of sisters in Michigan who are doing a fast.�
“This is day 19 of the fast. We began on February 15th, which is the third anniversary of the global mobilization against the war against Iraq. And it will conclude on the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, so March 19th – March 20th.�

Sister Virgine Lawinger, a member of the Racine Dominican sisters in Racine, Wisconsin, describes why she is standing in front of the Capitol building holding a sign saying “Winter of Our Discontent, Fasting to End the War In Iraq, Day 19.�

“I’m here in Washington for a week’s participation with the Voices for Creative Nonviolence in opposition to the war. And out of concern that the war will not stop until the funding stops as long as we keep pouring money in. Lots of people have interest in getting that money and it will just keep going.�

Lawinger expressed concern that many Americans act like there isn’t a war going on, in contrast to her memories of World War II, the length of which she compares to the current war against Iraq.

“I cannot believe that we’re about to start year four of this war. The Second World War was only 3 and a half years.�

The media need to accurately portray the violence in Iraq in order to get Americans to understand the real costs of war, according to Lawinger.

“I have pictures at home of children that say ‘this is what war looks like’. When people see those pictures they are brought up short. Our peace movement people see them, but the vast majority of Americans – we have to get them into front pages.�

Both Leys and Lawinger have been to Iraq as part of the Iraq Peace Team and Voices in the Wilderness. But they consider the reconstruction of the country so far using no-bid contracts for multinational corporations to be a failure. Leys says that Iraqis are best suited to rebuild their own country.

“A mechanism needs to be figured out how the funds can get in the hands of Iraqis so that actual hands-on projects are being done in Iraq that benefit Iraqis. … In some way shape or form the reconstruction’s going to need to happen at the local level. Drawing upon the expertise of Iraqis who are still there who know how to run this equipment, who know what their people need in their local communities.�

Leys feels that citizens must lobby congress to support the Murtha bill and vote against war funding.

“[W]ith the supplemental spending bill on the fast track to go through the House of Representatives, everyone right now must contact their Representative to tell them in no uncertain terms that they must vote against the supplemental.�

But the legislative process is only one way to stop the war and other means must be carried out as well, as Leys points out.

“And while we’re working through the legislative process on that score, we also need to continue to make sure that we’re in the streets using all of the other nonviolent means at our disposal: fast, vigils, lobbying in the street, civil disobedience, disrupting business as usual at the offices of congressional representatives and senators who continue to support the bloodbath in Iraq.�

To find out more about Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Winter of Our Discontent fast, visit V-C-N-V –dot- org.

As a form of disclosure, this reporter has a relative with VCNV.

For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane


Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV)

Racine Dominican Sisters

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