By Munir K. Nasser
More than 1,000 people participated in a rally outside the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles on Tuesday, demanding an end to the war and sanctions against Iraq.
During a moment of silence in the rally, participants held up 250 small coffins, each with the picture and name of an Iraqi child on it. The coffins dramatically symbolized the number of Iraqi children who die each day as a result of the sanctions blockade.
The rally was organized by Save the Iraqi Children Coalition which is sponsored by several human rights groups in the United States, including some Arab American organizations. More than 22 people representing a variety of US groups and causes spoke at the rally, calling on the UN and the US to stop the sanctions and the bombing of Iraqi civilians.
Mishel Shehadeh, co-chair of Save the Iraqi Children Coalition, told Albawaba.com in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that as the rally ended at sundown, hundreds of demonstrators carrying coffins and signs lined the 12-foot high fence directly across the street from the Staples Convention Center, chanting anti-sanctions slogans at the delegates. Later, protestors lined a narrow sidewalk through which the thousands of delegates had to pass to return to their hotels. The demonstrators lining this gauntlet chanted slogans denouncing Gore and Bush "for being guilty of genocide in Iraq and racist executions in the US," Shehadeh said.
According to Shehadeh, the rally was successful in focusing the attention of the Americans on the plight of Iraqi people. He said the demonstration has received very wide national and international media coverage. "Now we are building a new coalition to focus attention on the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, and mobilize support for them in American public opinion," he said. "Our purpose is to include this right in the national debate and hopefully we can bring it into the institutional agenda through our allies in Congress as we did with the Iraq campaign.” -- Albawaba.com
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