The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Group Refuses to Pay Fine for Providing Aid to Iraqis

by Brendan Coyne

Aug. 16, 2005 – Standing by earlier assertions, a humanitarian organization that aided several Americans’ travel to Iraq and facilitated the distribution of medical supplies to Iraqi civilians announced that it has no intention to pay a $20,000 fine levied by the Treasury Department and upheld by a federal judge last week.

Voices in the Wilderness, a Chicago-based anti-war organization that, since 1996, had been fighting the former economic sanctions against Iraq, on Sunday criticized US Federal District Judge John Bates’s finding that the group is legally required to pay the $20,000 Treasury-imposed fine.

"Judge Bates agrees that it was lawful and proper for the US government to deny needed drugs and medical supplies to Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens, despite the evidence that several hundred thousand innocent children were dying because of brutal economic sanctions," the group said.

Voices initially challenged the 2002 Treasury levy on the grounds that it took the agency nearly four years to issue the fine in response to a written request for clarification from the organization. The case dates back to 1998.

Friday’s decision by Bates noted that "the defendant is being fined not for its views, but for the willful and knowing violation of statutes, executive orders and regulations enacted by elected political representatives."

In yesterday’s statement, Voices acknowledged that refusing to pay the fine may result in further prosecution of the group or individuals associated with the group, but said, "We invite all US citizens to pause and consider how we might bring about an end to the bloodshed and the violence in Iraq, an end to the occupation, and payment of reparations to Iraq for the devastation our country has wrought upon the Iraqi people these past 15 years."

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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