The Guardian July 10, 2002


US: fined for saving children's lives

The United States Office of Foreign Asset Control imposed a A$27,000 
(approximate) fine on retired engineer Bert Sachs for taking children's 
antibiotics and multivitamins to Iraq without applying for an export 
licence.

Mr Sachs works with Voices in the Wilderness  an NGO founded by Catholic 
theology graduate Kathy Kelly  Washington Physicians for Social 
Responsibility, the American Friends Service Committee and a number of 
faith-based organisations.

He takes medicines and toys to Iraq, which has been under draconian 
sanctions since August 1990.

If Mr Sachs fails to pay the fine, he faces a 12-year jail sentence.

However, Mr Sachs has launched an appeal for 1000 people to send A$27 or 
more to raise the fine's equivalent  to take more medicines and 
children's items to Iraq.

He said that getting through the tortuous UN bureaucracy involved in 
granting export licences for medicine shipments to Iraq can take months.

"The embargo is killing over 5000 under-fives a month  it is not honest 
to say it penalises the Iraqi people, it kills them.

"I'm Jewish. I have been to Auschwitz. Nobody would say Auschwitz simply 
created hardship for the Jewish people  we need to be honest.

"We have put into place a policy we know is deadly, that is a crime.

"Policymakers say we are being tough on Saddam  that is untrue. We are 
killing children and I keep going to Iraq because kids keep dying", he 
said.

Mr Sachs admits to "fear" of spending 12 years in jail, but he says that 
"conscience dictates challenging my government  and there is another part 
of me which feels very good that I am walking a certain walk".

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