I urge everyone to sign this petition. In addition to the statement below,
which I agree with and wholeheartedly add my signature, I want to say that
those who kidnapped and who are threatening to execute these anti-war
activists in Iraq are most likely in the pay of the CIA, and at the very
least are doing the work of the U.S. government by kidnappings and
executions directed against civilian anti-war activists.
- Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY State, USA
An Appeal for the Release the Italian and Iraqi Aid Workers Abducted in
THEY ARE NOT INSTRUMENTS OF THE OCCUPYING FORCES
We are individuals and organizations from around the world who opposed and
continue to oppose the occupation of Iraq and we plead for the release of
two Italian and two Iraqi humanitarian workers who were abducted in Iraq
last September 7, 2004.
Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both Italians, and Ra'ad Ali Abdul Azziz
and Mahnoaz Bassam, both Iraqis, are members of Un Ponter Per Baghdad
(Bridges to Baghdad) an independent Italian humanitarian organization that
has been working in Iraq since 1992. During the embargo, other humanitarian
organizations refused to operate in Iraq, Bridges defied that in the belief
that the suffering of civilians should not be used as a political
In this occupation, the United States and its coalition cynically blurred
the distinction between the humanitarian and the political, using aid and
relief as an apparatus for pacifying the Iraqis. As a result, Iraqis have
become increasingly and understandably suspicious of international
humanitarian organizations. Despite the perils caused by this confusion,
Bridges consciously decided to continue its operations in Iraq, convinced
that Iraqis will see through their intentions.
Bridges is not an instrument of the Italian government, nor of the US-led
coalition, to make the occupation more bearable, and therefore, more
acceptable to the Iraqis. From the very beginning, Bridges has been open
and consistent with its positions: it opposed the embargo, it opposed the
invasion, and it opposes the occupation. In Italy, Bridges has been a
leading critic of the government's decision to join the US-led coalition.
It plays a leading role in the nation-wide movement that mobilized over a
million Italians to march against the war in February 15, 2003, as well as
in various demonstrations after. Bridges has also been very active in the
global anti-war movement, maintaining links with various anti-war
organizations around the world and playing a key role in establishing the
Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad, a center for monitoring the occupation
founded by anti-war organizations and coalitions from different countries.
Simona Turretta has spent a third of her life for Iraq; Simona Pari joined
her in 2003. As chief of Bridges' in-country operations, Simona Turreta has
been supervising projects to rehabilitate Iraq's decrepit water
infrastructure and to repair school buildings. Among other things, Simona
Pari was organizing educational programs for Iraq's traumatized children.
Ra'ad is an Iraqi engineer who took charge of Bridges' school projects in
Baghdad and Basra. Manaf was involved in the social programs.
Aside from these projects, Bridges has also helped build the capacity of
local Iraqi organizations to document and report cases of human rights
abuses committed by occupation forces. In April this year, Bridges
organized a humanitarian convoy that delivered food, water, blood, and
medicine to civilians under siege in Fallujah. Last month, as US and Iraqi
"interim government forces" mounted their offensive in Najaf, Bridges was
also there, providing aid and assistance to Iraqis caught in the crossfire.
Simona, Simona, Ra'ad and Mahnoaz are not enemies of the Iraqi people. They
stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in calling for an immediate end to the
occupation. We appeal to those holding them to release them immediately.
We also call on the Italian government to immediately withdraw its
membership in the US-led coalition. We call on the United States and the
remaining members of the coalition to end the occupation.
(To sign this appeal, please send an e-mail (copy this one) to
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SIGNED: Mitchel Cohen
Organizations: Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY State, USA