Peace Action Center Volunteer Works For Justice

by DeMisty Bellinger Peace Action

Peace in Iraq is not a new campaign for the Peace Action Center. It’s not a new campaign for volunteer Virgine Lawinger either. Lawinger, a volunteer at Peace Action Center, says the organization has been trying to help lift the sanctions since they were placed on Iraq in 1991. Recently, Peace Action has focused much of its attention on the war with Iraq. Lawinger admitted, in an interview conducted before war was declared, that she does not have any real evidence of whether Iraq can produce weapons of mass destruction, but she says “some very reliable experts have concluded that they cannot have weapons at this stage or the means to distribute them.” She thinks the UN inspections in Iraq should have continued. Lawinger’s participation in the peace movement started with her activism in the civil rights movement. “I saw that there couldn’t be peace unless there was also justice. There was certainly not justice for black people in this country.” Her fight during the civil rights movement was to improve the conditions of education “in large urban areas like Milwaukee. One of the great injustices in this country [was the] inequality of education, so I gave my energies to working for the improvement of education in the cities.” She believes justice is gained through education, and she sees evidence of the truth of this belief in the conditions of the Iraqi people today. Lawinger says that many of Iraq’s educated class left Iraq because of the sanctions and Saddam Hussein’s leadership. If those sanctions were lifted, Lawinger says many in this class could return and reform society. Lawinger says that Peace Action saw the situation leading up to war with Iraq as a UN – not a US – issue. Peace Action’s position is “that the UN should be the enforcing agency” in Iraq. Lawinger stated that the UN only wants Iraq’s weapons; an Iraq regime change is a goal that has been added by the Bush administration. A regime change, Lawinger believes, should be a decision made by that country’s people or by the UN and that it should not be “up to one single nation to make those decisions on another nation.” Before war was declared, Lawinger believed “President Bush is so single-minded about the war that…he will go to war with or without the UN.” She was right. But she does believe that protesting still works. She says this is the first time she has remembered the “momentum for peace even before the start of a war.” Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 4 – April 2003
by DeMisty Bellinger