Sanctions Are Biological Warfare Against Civilians|
This is not an economic policy. It is the collective
punishment of civilians. It is an act of biological
warfare against children, the elderly, and people of
By Richard Eskow
March 30, 2020
world was rightfully shocked and outraged in 2005 by
the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, the
young Iranian woman shot during a protest.
“She was a person full of joy,” said her music
teacher, who was with her when she died. “She was a
beam of light.”
to her teacher, Neda’s last words were, “I’m
burning. I’m burning.”
the United States, politicians from both parties
mourned Neda. Where are they now, as the Trump
Administration tightens sanctions against Iran? This
is not an economic policy.
It is the collective punishment of civilians.
It is an act of biological warfare against children,
the elderly, and people of all ages.
sound like heated rhetoric, but it’s the product of
Sick and the Innocent
before the pandemic, Iranian civilians were
suffering and dying as a result of US sanctions. A
Human Rights Watch
found that “current economic sanctions, despite the
humanitarian exemptions, are causing unnecessary
suffering to Iranian citizens afflicted with a range
of diseases and medical conditions.”
article in The
Lancet medical journal concluded in November
2018 that sanctions “will inevitably lead to a
decrease in survival of children with cancer.”
in survival of children.”
Iranian physician who practices nuclear medicine
wrote in another
medical journal that sanctions have made it
extremely difficult for medical companies to obtain
supplies, with nuclear medicine further complicated
by its use of material regulated by atomic
agencies. The conclusion: “The most critical
patients have been affected the worst including
children, patients with cancer, hemophilia,
cardiovascular disease, asthma and epilepsy.”
before the pandemic. And now?
is Italy,” said
a former State Department official,
“only on steroids.”
people are being deprived of critical medical
supplies even as the pandemic strikes in its full
force. Sanctions don’t target Iran’s leaders, who
will in all likelihood receive the care they need.
It targets civilians, which very likely violates
international law, and therefore US law.
clearly violates moral law.
Martyrs and Children
deprivation is a central theme in Iranian culture
and history. It is reflected the martyrdom of Imam
Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, who was
trapped with his family and surrounded by hostile
forces at Karbala.
soldiers refused to give them water, a sanction that
led to thirst. Hussein finally approached his enemy,
the story says, to plead for mercy while holding his
infant son. In response, the child was murdered with
United States is playing out the ancient role of a
ruthless and murderous enemy, willing to bring about
the deaths of children in pursuit of power. It’s an
act that could resonate for generations,
destabilizing the region and the world. These
sanctions are America’s arrow.
Trump Administration’s smug glibness reflects the
pathological inhumanity of these sanctions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insists that they
don’t apply to medical devices, even as an equally
thuggish State Department operatives brags about the
being brought to bear against the plague-ridden
playing it cute in the State Department. We’re not
stopping them from buying medicines of medical
equipment, they say. We’re just blocking their
access to oil sales, banking, and other financial
transactions, so they have no money to buy them.
People are dying, and they’re playing word games.
nine members of Congress signed a
calling for an easing of those sanctions. Where are
the others, the ones who once told us how much they
cared about Neda?
silent about this collective punishment is to be
complicit. People should call their senators and
representatives to insist they stand against this
sanctions were already causing death and suffering,
including a pre-existing shortage of medical goods
and supplies going into the pandemic. To continue
them now is to create even more deaths. More Nedas.
the hawkish senator who achieved some sort of
secular sainthood after his death, insisted that
Neda’s death was “a defining moment” in Iran’s
history. But then, John McCain also sang “bomb Iran”
to the tune of an old doo-wop song. In the warped
moral arithmetic of American politics, apparently
some lives are worth more than others.
If we can
wake up to the savagery and immorality of our own
actions, this could become a defining moment in
ours. In the meantime, the new Nedas of Iran have a
message for us:
burning. They’re burning.