for the Release of Italian and Iraqi Hostages
An Appeal for the Release
the Italian and Iraqi Aid Workers Abducted in Baghdad:
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 Raad 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
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 bargaining chip.
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.
Raiad is an Iraqi engineer
who took charge of Bridges? school projects in Baghdad and Basra.
Mahnoaz 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, Raid 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.
Signed: As of 8 September, 3 PM GMT
- Iraq International Occupation
- Alianza Social Continental (Latin Americano)
- Campaign Genoa 2001 (Greece)
- Continental Campaign Against FTAA (Latin Americano)
- Code Pink (United States)
- Global Exchange (United States)
- Globalize Resistance (United Kingdom)
- Focus on the Global South (Philippines, Thailand, and India)
- International Civilian Campaign for the Protection of Palestinians
- Palestinian Workers Union
- Stop the War Coalition - Greece
- Stop the War Coalition - UK
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