Dan Winters, a Boulder activist who is part of a group called the Iraq Peace Team, talks to reporters Monday about his plans to leave for Baghdad on Christmas Day. He will deliver medical supplies and seeds to Iraqis. Winters was in Baghdad when the 1991 bombing campaign began in Operation Desert Storm.
Activist grandpa heads to Iraq
Boulder man plans to serve as witness to U.S. war-making
By Jeff Kass, Rocky Mountain News
December 24, 2002
Boulder grandfather Dan Winters was in Iraq as bombs dropped in the 1991 Gulf War.
A Denver police "spy file" on Winters cites him for disrupting an April 2000 speech by President Clinton by questioning sanctions against Iraq.
And security whisked Winters away from Vice President Dick Cheney's Denver rally last month when he yelled, "What about the children in Iraq?"
So it's not a stretch to believe he'll spend the new year in Iraq to protest what he believes is certain war.
"Our tax dollars will pay for the bombs and missiles falling," on the people of Iraq, said Winters, 65. "They can't leave. So we feel we need to be in solidarity."
Dressed in a blue cardigan, plaid shirt and dark khakis, Winters outlined his plans to reporters Monday.
The longtime peace activist said he will be among more than 50 mostly U.S. citizens called the Iraq Peace Team. Chicago-based Voices in the Wilderness is coordinating the trip.
Winters does not believe he can stop a war; he tried that in 1991. He says the United States and other countries would reconsider bombing Iraq only if tens of thousands of people protested.
Rather, Winters wants to be a "witness" to any death and destruction, especially if it involves civilians.
Winters takes pains to point out that he is no fan of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"Certainly, he's bad for his people. He's bad for his country, and he's bad for the region," he said.
The solution, Winters said, is not to get rid of Saddam, but to bring Iraq into the "community of nations" by measures that include re-establishing trade and cultural and scientific exchanges.
Winters does support continued weapons inspections.
He is not deterred by the fact that Saddam may use his visit for propaganda.
"We're there in support of the people of Iraq," Winters said.
Winters will take a suitcase with up to 500 packets of vegetable and herb seeds to distribute. He also will take medical supplies, including bandages, ointments and antibiotics.
Winters will leave Denver on Christmas Day. After visiting family in New York, he will fly to Jordan. He expects to arrive in Baghdad on Jan. 7. He may then go to another part of the country and plans to stay approximately 25 days - unless war breaks out. "Then who knows," he said.
The retired computer scientist will buy his own $1,100, round-trip ticket. Local peace groups have given him another $1,000 for expenses.
This is Winters' third trip to Iraq. He also was an election monitor in East Timor as people voted on independence from Indonesia in 1999. He was with nearly 2,500 people who unsuccessfully attempted to stop fighting between Muslims and Serbs in Bosnia in 1993.
Winters is married, has three children and three grandchildren. Some have urged him not to go.
His reply: "I tell them that sometimes you have to take a personal risk for what you believe is just."