Memory of Benazir Bhutto, Cut U.S. Ties to Musharraf By Medea Benjamin
Memory of Benazir Bhutto, Cut U.S. Ties to Musharraf
By Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK: Women for Peace
Our hearts and thoughts are with the Pakistani
people as they mourn the death of Benazir Bhutto.
We extend our deep sorrow to her family and the
millions of supporters who for decades have seen
the Bhutto family as a source of inspiration.
We also extend our condolences to the families
of the other Pakistanis who were killed in this
We at CODEPINK were in touch with the former Prime
Minister when we were writing our book Stop the
Next War Now. In fact, Bhutto graciously contributed
an essay that was a plea to counter extremism
and “a clash of civilizations that can lead
to Armageddon, where there will be no winners
Bhutto's assassination is a blow to people
all over Pakistan, and the world, who hold life
sacred and believe in the basics precepts of democracy.
It is also a blow to women worldwide who took
strength from seeing such a courageous, articulate
and charismatic woman playing a leadership role
in a powerful Muslim country. Inside Pakistan,
even her most bitter critics wept at the news
of her death, understanding that it is indeed
a dark day when assassination becomes a tool for
eliminating opposing viewpoints.
There is much speculation about who committed
this odious act. It could certainly be religious
militants opposed to a leader like Bhutto who
repeatedly expressed her determination to combat
violent extremists. Bhutto was perceived by many
Pakistanis as too “pro-Western,” especially
after remarks that if elected Prime Minister,
she might allow U.S. military strikes inside Pakistan
to eliminate al-Qaeda.
But it is not too far-fetched to think that the
assassination could have been orchestrated by
Pervez Musharraf or members of the military. Many
in Pakistan speculated that the government was
responsible for the bomb blasts that killed 140
Pakistanis when Bhutto first returned home on
October 18, citing the fact that the street lights
were turned off just before the attack and questioning
the lack of a serious investigation afterwards.
In fact, Musharraf had refused Bhutto's request
that an independent foreign team be brought in
to help with the investigation. This time, there
must be a serious investigation conducted by a
body independent of the government and those responsible
must be found and held accountable.
Elections scheduled for January 8 must be postponed.
Even before this tragedy, there were no conditions
for free and fair elections. The Musharraf regime
had fired independent judges, censored the press
and stacked the Election Commission. It is absolutely
key that an independent judiciary and free press
be restored, and that elections then be scheduled
under the aegis of an independent electoral commission.
The international community must put pressure
on Musharraf not to use this tragedy to impose
another round of emergency rule like the one he
imposed on November 3, which led to the crackdown
on lawyers, students, journalists and other members
of Pakistan's vibrant civil society. Bhutto's
death will be doubly tragic if it becomes an excuse
for Musharraf to stifle the very civil society
that is the true bulwark against extremism.
If Bhutto's death proves anything, it is
the utter failure of Musharraf's regime and
the utter failure of the Bush administration's
policy of supporting Musharraf. Pakistani civil
society has long been calling for Musharraf to
resign. Now leaders like former Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif have added their voice to that call,
publicly holding Musharraf responsible for Bhutto's
death and demanding he step down.
CODEPINK agrees that Musharraf is the biggest
obstacle facing a democratic Pakistan today. He
is not capable of either fighting extremists or
building a society that respects the rule of law.
My colleague Tighe Barry and I recently had a
taste of his dictatorial ways when we were kidnapped
and carjacked at gunpoint and then deported for
supporting the pro-democracy movement.
The US government must use this time to radically
change its policy in Pakistan. The Bush administration
has been a staunch supporter of Musharraf, providing
his regime with over $10 billion in financial
aid since 2001. In return, Musharraf was supposed
to fight religious extremists. But Osama bin Laden
has never been caught, and in the last few years
al-Qaeda and the Taliban have become stronger
in Pakistan. In the meantime, Musharraf's
use of US funds to crack down on the country's
democratic forces has led to growing anti-American
sentiments among the nation's moderate, secular
forces. The U.S. government should withhold assistance
until Musharraf steps down and a caretaker government
restores the independent judiciary, lifts restrictions
on the press and sets up the conditions for fair
We should also begin to focus our attention on
one of the key underlying causes for the growth
of extremism in Pakistan: the extreme poverty
that persists, especially in the tribal areas
where al-Qaeda is most active.
Bhutto spoke about this in the essay she wrote
for our book. Her words were poignant then, and
are even more poignant upon her death:
“The neglect of rising
poverty against the background of religious extremism
can only complicate an already difficult world
situation,” she said. “The war against
terrorism is primarily perceived as a war based
on the use of force. However, economics has its
own force, as does the desperation of families
who cannot feed themselves.
“Militancy and greed cannot become the defining
images of a new century that began with much hope.
We must refocus our energy on promoting the values
of democracy, accountability, broad-based government,
and institutions that can respond to people's
very real and very urgent needs.”
We, as global citizens, can pay tribute to Bhutto
by rising to her challenge. Whether in Pakistan
or in our home countries, we can dedicate ourselves
to building a world based on tolerance, cooperation
and fulfilling the urgent needs of the human family—which
are the pillars of a more peaceful world.
Pakistan's Emergency Rule Lifted, But GEO TV Still
By Medea Benjamin
GEO talk show host
Hamid Mir and GEO Director Imran Aslam with
Medea Benjamin in Karachi.
With only three weeks left until elections on
January 8, Pakistan's President Musharraf is trying
to set the stage for free and fair elections by
lifting the Emergency Rule he had imposed on November
3. While declared in the name of the war on terror,
the 42-day Emergency Rule was used to eviscerate
the judiciary by sacking independent judges and
replacing them with Musharraf supporters. It was
also used to crack down on the press, a press
that had become one of the few checks on the military
government. It's hard to consider the upcoming
elections as legitimate when two key democratic
institutions-the judiciary and the press-have
In the crackdown on the press, Musharraf did
not go after the print media, since just a small
fraction of Pakistanis read newspapers. Instead
he targeted TV and radio stations, closing them
down, beating journalists, seizing equipment.
To return to the air, the stations had to sign
a code of conduct promising not to broadcast anything
that "defames or brings into ridicule the
head of state or the military." Most of the
stations signed this under duress and resumed
broadcasting, but journalists all over the country
continue to protest the restrictions and the nation's
Press Clubs have become centers of anti-Musharraf
One TV station that has still not been allowed
back on the air is GEO, the nation's largest station.
The government has a particular vendetta against
GEO, closing not only its news channel, but also
its sports, entertainment and youth channels-costing
the station about $500,000 a day and jeopardizing
the livelihoods of some 2,500 employees.
Ironically, it is precisely under Musharraf's
rule that private television began to thrive in
Pakistan. The General was used to controlling
the airwaves through the state-run PTV, which
the public had dubbed with the slogan "On
PTV, seeing is not believing." People realized
that state-run TV was government propaganda, and
there was a thirst for independent TV outlets.
While the Arab world saw the blossoming of Al
Jazeera and other independent networks, Pakistan
saw the creation of GEO.
"The channel ran into problems from its
inception in 2002, as Musharraf tried to control
it," GEO TV's charismatic President Imran
Aslan recalled as he gave us a tour of the station's
sprawling headquarters in Karachi. At a meeting
with government officials in early 2002, the owner
of GEO, who heads a powerful media conglomerate
called The Jang Group, was informed that key members
of the GEO team were unacceptable. He was told
that if he hired a different crew, the station
could go forward. "But what the government
officials didn't know is that the owner had taped
the entire conversation," laughed Aslan.
"The next day we went straight to the Press
Club and played the tape. The government was so
embarrassed that it allowed GEO to go ahead."
The feisty station was launched in August 2002
with a talented team that innovated an all fronts,
not just the news. They revived sports that were
dying out-boxing, hockey, volleyball, football,
polo. Ignoring the threats of religious fundamentalists,
they televised marathons where men and women ran
together. On the youth channel, they had call-in
shows where young people from around the country
could say whatever they wanted, unedited, uncensored.
They changed the debate on women's rights, launching
a campaign to openly discuss Pakistan's controversial
rape laws that blame the victim, threatening her
with lashings or even stoning to death. Since
they were enforced by Zia ul Haq in 1979, these
laws have been regarded as untouchable for fear
of a backlash by powerful religious extremists.
GEO took the issue head on, and not from a more
obvious feminist perspective, but by airing debates
between religious leaders about whether these
practices were in conformance with Islam. The
debate, which included religious leaders labeling
these practices are un-Islamic and immoral, led
to the drafting of new laws more favorable to
But what landed GEO in hot water with the government
was their news show. "We would get Musharraf
and top government officials on our shows and
ask them tough questions," famed talk show
host Hamid Mir told us. "I asked Musharraf
how he could be President while on the payroll
as Army Chief, or how could he let Benazir Bhutto
back in the country but not Nawaz Sharif-questions
he found hard to answer."
GEO reporters and talk show hosts questioned
the army about missing people, about their tactics
fighting in Balochistan and the tribal areas.
They even pressed Benazir Bhutto so hard about
the assassination of her brother, questioning
how it happened under her rule, that she got up
and walked out in the middle of a show.
GEO brought irreverence and satire to the TV
screen with the hilarious animated cartoon called
"Pillow talk", which featured conversations
between Musharraf and Bush. Sometimes the two
leaders would be chatting in bed, with George
Bush wrapped up in a Mickey Mouse blanket.
"We alienated everyone, so I guess we did
our job," joked Imran Aslan. "We were
innovative, we pushed the limits, we had fun--and
the people loved us. In less than six years, we
had a lead of 8-9 points on other stations."
By closing the sports, youth and entertainment
channels, the government's goal is to cripple
the station financially. The head of GEO Sports
Channel Mohammad Ali had tried, unsuccessfully,
to petition the court to get the 24-hour sports
station reopened. "What does sports have
to do with the war on terror?", Ali asked
when we met him outside the Courthouse. "We
just lost $15 million dollars we had paid for
the right to broadcast the India-Pakistan cricket
match. The people were deprived of seeing a match
they love, and we are being ruined financially."
"This is just vindictive on the part of
the government; it's a blatant effort to put us
out of business," said Aslan after losing
the court case. "My biggest regret is that
the government is jeopardizing the livelihoods
of so many wonderful staff, who are among the
finest minds in this country."
With the upcoming elections, GEO had been poised
to play a major role. It had a campaign called
"You have the vote, don't' you?, " encouraging
people to exercise their right to vote. They had
anticipated airing debates, educating voters about
the views of the different parties and candidates,
and training young people all over the country
to report on the campaigns.
While the Bush Administration has been touting
the upcoming elections, it has been silent on
the continued silencing of GEO. It was not even
mentioned in the testimony of Assistant Secretary
of State Richard Boucher when he testified before
Congress on December 6 about continued aid to
Pakistan. Boucher admitted that democracy requires
not only elections "but accountable government
institutions, including a free and dynamic press."
But instead of using the opportunity to demand
that press restrictions be lifted, Boucher gave
the stunning conclusion that "Pakistan is
making progress toward these goals."
The U.S. government, which gives over $100 million
a month to Pakistan, should speak out forcefully
against the banning of GEO, and withhold U.S.
assistance until GEO is back on air. And when
assistance is resumed, a portion of our aid should
help GEO get on its feet financially.
An independent media is the backbone of a democratic
nation. If the US government is truly committed
to democracy in Pakistan, it should support GEO
and Pakistan's courageous journalists in their
struggle for a free press.
Medea Benjamin (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, and
CODEPINK activist Tighe Barry were kidnapped by
Pakistani government agents and deported on December
4 for supporting the democracy movement.
Deported at Gunpoint
by Pakistani Government,
By Medea Benjamin
our tenth day in Pakistan, my colleague Tighe
Barry and I, both human rights activists with
CODEPINK and Global
Exchange, were arrested at gunpoint by agents
of the Pakistani government. We had just left
a student rally and were driving down the streets
of Lahore with a car full of Pakistani journalists
and lawyers. Two cars and six motorbikes came
screeching up, blocked our car, piled out with
guns drawn, dragged the journalists and lawyers
out of the car, beat the bystanders, and hijacked
the car. With the two of us huddled in the back
surrounded by shouting police, our captors raced
at breakneck speed through the crowded streets
of Lahore. We had no idea why we were being abducted
or where we were headed.
The car pulled up to the
Race Course Police Station, where more police
threw open the gate and dragged us inside. Terrified,
we found ourselves in the office of a shady-looking
character in a running suit. He had on no badge
or ID, but behind his desk was a framed certificate
made out to Faizal Gulzar Awan, awarded by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Great—he'd
been trained by the FBI. That made us even more
Our phone had been ringing non-stop, with our
friends desperate to find us. The police tried
to grab the phone from Tighe, but I snatched it
and stuck it down my shirt, assuming the Muslim
deference for women would keep them from attacking
me physically. I also pressed the answer button,
as a call was coming in. Infuriated, Mr. Awan
called in a policewoman to get the phone, who
pulled and shoved and pinched me, putting her
hand down my shirt while I screamed and held on
for dear life. All of that, we informed them,
was being recorded at the other end by our journalist
At that point, our captor Mr. Ijaz from the Special
Police Force, walked in, and the two of them switched
to the good cop mode. “Okay, okay,”
said Mr. Awan. “Let's all calm down.”
“Yes, yes,” Mr. Ijaz smiled. “Let's
all drink tea together.” They brought out
the tea, which we refused to drink, and tried
to talk small talk, asking us questions like “What
is your favorite Pakistani food?” and “What
is the weather like back in the United States?”
We refused to answer their questions and instead
insisted on talking to a lawyer or someone from
the US Consulate.
Finally, after making endless phone calls to
their superiors, they allowed us to call the Consulate.
We talked to the political officer, Antone Greuble,
who was well aware of the situation and said he
was on his way.
When we got off the phone, Mr. Awan shocked us
with his comment. “We
don't know why you were arrested,” he
said, “we are only carrying out orders from
high up. But I think your own government had a
hand in it because you embarrassed the Ambassador
when she was in town.” Just the day
before, when Ambassador Anne Patterson was holding
a press conference, we had confronted her about
the Bush administration's continued support
for Musharraf. Now we didn't know who to
fear more, Musharraf or our own government.
hours later, Mr. Grueble from the Consulate appeared
with two security agents. He said that Pakistani
government had canceled our visas (which were
valid for two more months). The government felt
we were engaging in seditious acts under the emergency
rules by showing up at rallies and by sitting
outside the home of detained lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan.
“Why didn't the government just warn
us that we were doing something wrong or nicely
ask us to come into the police station, instead
of terrorizing us?,” Tighe asked. “Because
this is Pakistan,” Greuble replied, condescendingly.
This is indeed Pakistan, but it is the Pakistan
of a Pervez Musharraf, a close U.S. ally who has
been receiving over $100 million a month of our
taxdollars. It is the Pakistan of a dictator posing
as a democrat, a general who took off his uniform
to please the West, but who remains the strongman
who runs the show. It is the Pakistan of Musharraf's
emergency rule, issued on November 3 in the name
of fighting terrorism but used to wage war on
the democratic forces of this country.
In our ten-day visit,
we met lawyers who had been brutally beaten and
thrown into prisons with rats and murderers. We
met judges who had dedicated their lives to the
rule of law, only to find themselves unceremoniously
thrown off the bench and even physically evicted
from their homes. We met students who had been
beaten with batons and face expulsion for participating
in pro-democracy rallies. We met journalists whose
programs had been yanked off the air and tossed
from their jobs for criticizing the government.
All this under the guise of the war on terror.
All this with the continued support of the U.S.
Back at our jail in Lahore, Mr. Greuble explained
our options. We could languish in jail for an
unknown period and then be deported, or we could
leave the country on the next available flight.
We “chose” the latter. We were released
under the care of the U.S. political officer,
who booked us on a flight the following day.
Before we left, we had a final goodbye gathering
with our newfound friends--the amazing group of
lawyers, journalists and students we had met at
rallies, vigils, debates. They apologized profusely
for the actions of their government; we apologized
profusely for our government's actions.
Reflecting on our ordeal
on the flight home, Tighe and I marveled at the
courage and determination of the Pakistani activists.
We left angry at the Pakistani government for
the way we were treated, but inspired and motivated
by the example of our Pakistani brothers and sisters.
December 2, 2007
Vigil Outside a “Sub-Jail”
By Medea Benjamin
soon as we arrived in Lahore, Pakistan on November
30, Tighe Barry and I—both human rights activists
from the United States—called the wife of the
most prominent lawyer in Pakistan today, Aitzaz
Ahsan. Ahsan is under house arrest, but his wife,
Bushra, invited us to come by their office the
The law office of Aitzaz Ahsan is connected to
his home. When we arrived, the building was surrounded
by 10 policemen. We entered the office and had
a long chat with Bushra. She told us that her
husband had been in jail for 21 days, and was
then placed under house arrest. He was not allowed
to leave the house, and visitors were not allowed
in. I asked her if we could try. She smiled and
escorted us to the door connecting the home and
sign on the door read “Sub-jail,”
and two officers were guarding the door. We greeted
them and asked to be allowed in. “We have come
all the way from the United States to meet Aitzaz
Ahsan,” I said politely. “Can we please meet with
him?” The jailors wouldn't budge.
Later in the day, about 60 members of Lahore's
civil society staged a rally outside the house.
Their signs read,
“Free Aitzaz Ahsan,” “Restore the Judiciary”,
“We want democracy.” They stayed
outside the house for about an hour, chanting
and singing. The crowd included lawyers in their
traditional black jackets, businessmen in their
suits, professional women in their colorful “shalwar
kamiz,” even several children. They were certainly
not a dangerous-looking crowd.
is Aitzaz Ahsan, who suddenly appeared on the
balcony to the delight of the protesters. He was
not allowed to speak to them, but he raised his
hand in a peace sign, and the crowd roared “Long
gray-haired, bespeckled Ahsan who is president
of the Supreme Court Bar Association, looks like
a mild-mannered professor but to President Musharraf,
he's a dangerous man. He defended the chief justice
of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry,
when Musharraf fired him back in March. Ahsan
won the battle, Chaudhry was reinstated, and Musharraf
That was just the
beginning. Ahsan, emboldened, took a case against
Musharraf up to the Supreme Court, arguing that
Musharraf could not legally be both president
and army chief. The court was
just about to decide the case when Musharraf clamped
down and imposed emergency rule on November 3.
While the pretext was the need to counter Islamic
militants, the government instead arrested thousands
of lawyers, journalists and members of civil society,
and fired the independent judges.
of those arrested have been released, but a few
key lawyers such as Ahsan remain in detention,
and the independent judges have not been reinstated.
That's why the demands of civil society are not
just to lift the emergency law, as Musharraf now
says he will do on December 16, but also to release
all those arrested, restore the independent judiciary
and restore freedom of the press. Most members
of civil society are calling for a boycott of
the elections until these conditions are met.
has taken off his uniform to please the West,
but he is still no democrat. In the past month,
his regime has shamefully beaten and jailed thousands
of this nation's best and brightest. Equally shameful
is the fact that the Bush administration continues
to back him, instead of backing the democratic
civil society struggling under his grip.
Aitzaz Ahsan is now a symbol in Pakistan of the
people's struggle for democracy. That's why we
decided to sit outside his door, his “subjail”,
in protest of his continued detention, in protest
of our government's backing of a dictator, and
most of all, in support of the Pakistani people.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global
Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. Benjamin
and CODEPINK activist Tighe Barry are staging
a 24-hour vigil outside the home of Aitzaz Ashan
in Lahore, Pakistan from December 2-3.. For more
information see www.codepinkalert.org.
November 27, Karachi,
Judges Get a Heroes'
Reception Medea Benjamin
The heroes in today's Pakistan are not the
returning former Prime Ministers—Benazir
Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif—but the Supreme Court
and High Court judges who refused to accept General
Musharraf's emergency law putting the Constitution
in abeyance. When asked to take a new oath pledging
to uphold his “Provisional Constitutional
Order”, they simply said no. While politicians
Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are making deals
with Musharraf to get back into power, these judges
are putting principle over power. They may have
lost their seats on the bench, but they have won
the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.
We got to see a manifestation of this by accompanying
a group of activists in Karachi to the home of
one of the Sindh High Court Judges, Sarmad Jalal
Osmany. The judge was having a dinner party for
his colleagues who had also refused to take the
Codepink meets citizens of Pakistan who
are braving the conditions to raise their
voice against injustice. They explain what
the whole protest is about and who is the
"dream team" in most Pakistanis'
hearts. Credit: Tighe Barry
Arriving at the judge's home, the activists--an
odd assortment of students, small businessmen,
accountants, and journalists--ceremoniously carpeted
the entrance with rose petals. Armed with bouquets
of flowers, they crammed into the judge's
living room. One by one, as the judges arrived,
the group gave them a standing ovation. In all,
thirteen judges appeared. “It was thrilling
to be in their presence,” said one journalist. “We are so used to a tarnished
image of judges throughout our history who have
sold out to military regimes and corrupt governments.
Here was a group of judges who were putting the
interest of the nation above their self interest.
I couldn't believe my eyes.”
The flowers, each with the name of a particular
judge, were accompanied by a letter from the students
at the prestigious LUMS management school in Lahore.
A recent graduate had flown in from Lahore to
Karachi just for the occasion. The activists wiped
tears from their eyes as they watched the young
lawyer paying homage to the sacrifice of his elders
and read the moving letter that ended with a tribute:
“For your courage and resolve, for your steadfastness,
for your selflessness, we salute you. For carrying
on the struggle and showing all of Pakistan what
a principled stand really means, we congratulate
you. For giving us this glimmer of hope, this
tangible inspiration, this possibility of change,
we thank you.”
The activists said that in their homage to the
judges, they were representing the sentiment of
the majority of Pakistanis. “Even the flower
vendor where we bought the bouquets was moved,”
journalist Beena Sarwar told the judges. When
he found out who the flowers were for, he insisted
on sending a bouquet himself, ‘with love
to the judges.'”
Codepink is in Pakistan
to show peace and solidarity with its people.
A visit with some citizens who want the constitution
and the basic human rights restored.Credit:
The group spent about an hour chatting with the
judges, with much laughter and good-hearted banter.
It was a rare scene, since judges normally lead
very secluded lives because of the nature of their
work. They told stories about being put under
house arrest after the emergency law was declared
on November 3. And they talked with pride about
the fact that most of the judges—at both
the Supreme Court and the provincial Sindh High
Court—refused to take the oath. At the Supreme
Court, only 5 of the 17 judges went along with
Musharraf's emergency measures.
With the future uncertain, the judges have no
idea whether they will ever be able to retake
their positions. But the goal of the legal community
and their supporters is to pressure the government
to restore the Constitution and reinstate the
“Restoring the Constitution and reinstating
these judges to the highest courts in the land
is more important than elections,” said attorney
Tammy Haque. “An independent judiciary is
the basis for a democratic state. Without it,
you can have all the elections you want, but you
won't have a democracy.”
Police forcefully stopped silent protestors
who were simply holding banners. Due to intervention
by some senior citizens, arrests were avoided.
Police has been quite brutal recently
in silencing peaceful calls for restoring
the constitution and upholding the rule of
law. Credit: Tighe Barry
Day One: Karachi, Pakistan,
Sunday, November 25
Let me introduce you to a flash
demonstration, Karachi-style. Since the police
have been rounding up and jailing people protesting
General Musarraf's imposition of martial law on
November 3, one of the new tactics is a "flash
mob." Today, people gathered along the
waterfront at the McDonalds (yes, they hate gathering
at McDonalds, but it's a good landmark with a
parking lot). The group was small--about 25 people--but
they were men and women, young and old. Some women
even brought their children. They were well-dressed,
well-educated, English-speaking professionals.
Most had never participated in a protest before
martial law was declared, but they were quickly
becoming seasoned activists.
They were delighted that US activists had come
to show support. Tighe and I interviewed several
of them on camera before the action started. One
of the women was a journalist who insisted that
journalists must shed the pretense of “objectivity.”
When the government starts censoring the press,
she said, it's time for all journalists to
take a stand. Another women in her 50s was a public
health worker who bemoaned the fact that she could
not motivate more of her colleagues—doctors,
nurses, social workers, teachers—to join
the movement. “The lawyers in this country
are really the only organized professional sector
that is standing up to Musharraf,” she
said. “It's understandable that the
poor who are struggling everyday to survive cannot
afford to protest. But the other professionals
should be out here with us. And the political
parties, the ones who can really mobilize large
numbers of people, should be taking the lead.
But they are too busy jockeying for power so it's
up to us, the civil society, to lead.”
The group, holding a few banners and posters
(one said, in English: “This revolution will
not be televised”, referred to the closing
of TV stations), began walking along the sidewalk
that borders the beach. Part of the action was
to quickly spray paint the sidewalk and walls
with anti-government slogans. "Most people
in Karachi are poor," a young man said, “they
can't even afford to buy a newspaper. So writing
on the public spaces is a good way to get the
word out." They also engaged the people
walking and driving by, handing out leaflets calling
on the government to release jailed activists
and reinstate democratic rule. When a crowd had
gathered around, one of the women began to give
a speech in Urdu. She was not your typical revolutionary--in
fact, this young, beautifully dressed woman worked
in a bank. But she was passionate about the need
to restore the rule of law and drew applause from
she was talking, you could hear the siren of a
police car pulling up. You might think that
the group would have dispersed immediately (the
women with children did), but most people stayed.
One young man who was with the group kept filming
as the police approached and started yelling at
the crowd to disperse. The police didn't
like that, and two of them tried to grab his video
camera and threatened to arrest him. Two women
immediately intervened, trying to calm the police.
They escorted the man to his car, but the police
blocked the car. One of the policemen, toting
a Kalashnikov, also approached Tighe and wanted
his video camera. He started grabbing Tighe's
hand, trying to pull him to the police car. Tighe,
playing dumb, kept repeating that he was just
a tourist, while I grabbed the camera and put
it in my purse. The policeman let Tighe go, but
the standoff continued with the other man.
So the women huddled and came up with a plan
to all jump in the car. “The police are
less likely to arrest him if he is surrounded
by women,” they reasoned. So five of
us, including me (a foreigner was even better
protection), squeezed into the car. And sure enough,
it worked. They police, exasperated, finally told
him to go.
the group met in a local café to “debrief.”
The man who almost got arrested was giving high
fives to the women. I asked him if he was scared
and he shrugged. “I've seen so many
others get arrested in these last few weeks,”
he said, “I thought it was my turn.”
I asked him what he did for a living. “I'm
a dentist,” he laughed, “so perhaps
my arrest would have gotten some of my colleague
out on the streets.”
The group made some decisions for future actions:
When the police threaten us, the men should leave
and the women should stay because the police have
a harder time roughing up women. If one person
gets arrested, they should all go with him or
her. Next action, tomorrow at the Press Club.
And so it goes here in Pakistan, where lawyers,
bank tellers, journalists—and dentists--are
taking on a US-backed dictator.
November 23, the day
Don't Buy Bush's War demonstration in D.C.
Human rights activist Tighe Barry and I are on
our way to Pakistan today. It's a bit of a trek--leaving
from New York to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates),
where we have an 11-hour layover, then on to Karachi
for a week, then Lahore and perhaps Islamabad.
This is the beginning of what we hope will be
an on-going presence of US human rights observers
in Pakistan until the elections are scheduled
to take place in January.
We've been very troubled by the state of affairs
since General Musharraf imposed martial law on
November 3. Under the guise of the war on terrorism,
he has jailed thousands of lawyers, human rights
advocates and opposition leaders. Some have
been released, but many remain in prison or under
house arrest. He sacked the Supreme Court and
then stacked it with his own judges, thereby wiping
out an independent judiciary. And he clamped down
on the press, closing several stations and restricting
So we are going to learn more about the situation,
hoping to interview the lawyers and activists
who have been victimized by the crackdown. We'll
get their stories and learn how we can be of support
as they take great risks to bring the rule of
law back to their country.
With the US government shoring up Musharraf
and continuing to give millions of our taxdollars
to his regime every month, we in the US have a
great responsibility toward the people of Pakistan.
That's why this trip--and hopefully the subsequent
delegations--are so important.
The Pink Police were on the job, sealing off a crime scene at the RNC. The Republican National Committee headquarters heard the message of "Accomplices to war crimes! War criminals!" A cease and desist order was given to stop obstructing democracy. Our police force will continue to work this case.
On the eve of the closing of the first ever US Social Forum in Atlanta,
CODEPINK hosted a reception in the Peace
and Justice Tent. We raised our glasses in a toast to the historic gathering
and the wonderful activists from around the country. We belted out “Ain't
gonna study war no more” and other peace songs in three-part harmony.
We laughed raucously as we enjoyed each other's company. And we closed
with a congo line that snaked out of the tent. Suddenly, while basking
in the warmth of the camaraderie, I felt someone's hand smashing
into my face. It was so quick I didn't have time to even close my
eyes. With goo dripping down by face and my eyes burning, I realized I
had been “pied.” I invite you to see the photos and video that
my attackers posted online.
You'll see how our merrymaking was spoiled by not-so-merry pranksters
guilty of a pie-by hit and run.
It's particularly odd that this group of pie-slingers chose the
Social Forum for their attack. The first ever Social Forum in the United
States was supposed to be a place to grow our movement, to build unity,
to respect differences, to embrace each other. These Bay Area Bakers could
have spent their time meeting Katrina survivors from the Gulf, homeless
advocates from Atlanta, immigrant rights leaders from Chicago or attending
some of the 900 workshops being offered. Instead they spent their time
plotting an attack against someone with whom they probably agree on 90
percent of the issues. The organizers of the forum, seeing the incident
as both an individual assault and an assault on the very principles of
the forum, publicly denounced the attack during one of the main plenaries.
you might ask, why was I targeted? While the pie-throwers fled the scene
of the crime, they did leave behind leaflets. I am, they say, “a
self-appointed ‘spokesperson' whose actions further the commodification
of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility.
This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense
of real democracy and solidarity.” That's a mouthful from these
self-appointed critics, judges and prosecutors. But it actually sounds
like good fodder for a healthy debate. Instead of a “pie-by”,
they could have dropped by any of the five open workshops where I was
speaking and we could have had a great discussion. Or they could have
easily found me at the Global Exchange or CODEPINK
tables where I was hanging out for days, chatting with anyone who wanted
But the pie-flingers were not interested in fruitful dialogue, but tasteless
condemnations. Their leaflet went on to say:
1. I sided with police and municipal authorities against direct actions
performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999 (Truth: I disagreed
with the tactic of smashing windows and helped gather an activist clean-up
crew to show our goodwill to the people of Seattle. And after eight years,
this grudge is mighty stale!)
2. My organization Global Exchange hordes funds raised for community
organizations in Guatemala (Huh? I have no idea what this one means. We
promote fair trade and have helped channel millions of dollars to producers
all over the world, including Guatemala. See http://www.globalexchange.org)
3. Global Exchange solicited the economic dependency of residents in
Cuba and then abandoned the project, pushing the Cuban participants deeper
into poverty. (Truth: We have organized hundreds of people-to-people delegations
to Cuba, and even with the Bush administration coming down on us, we still
take groups to Cuba to build ties of friendship.)
4. I publicly refused to endorse a call for Israel to unconditionally
withdraw from Southern Lebanon in the 2006 war. (Truth: I always called
for unconditional withdrawal, and even went to Lebanon in the midst of
the bombing to show my commitment to an immediate ceasefire.)
been involved in the movement for social justice for almost 40 years now,
I've developed thick skin after facing so many attacks from hateful,
violent people. Whenever I appear on TV shows such as Hannity and Colmes
or Bill O'Reilly, I receive vicious messages on my phone and threatening
emails that scare my children and anger my husband with their variations
on the theme of “Die, you ugly, communist, lesbian, American-hating
bitch.” I have learned over the years that attacks come with the
territory—but it does take me by surprise (and hurt the most) when
the attacks come from the left instead of the right, from people who are
supposed to be your allies.
Years back, I remember reading with amusement about the Biotic Baking
Brigade that roamed the world flinging pies in the face of the “upper
crust”—people deemed responsible for corporate crimes. These
included the CEOs of Monsanto, Novartis, Chevron and ENRON. In fact, I
had organized a protest against ENRON CEO Jeffrey Skilling in San Francisco
when a young woman in the audience threw a pie in his face. It was an
act of “speaking pie to power,” she said.
But while a pie in the face of the ENRON crook might seem like just desserts,
other targets the brigade chose were half-baked. Ralph Nader was pied
while at a San Francisco press conference supporting a Green Party candidate
for Governor. Sierra Club Director Carl Pope was pied for supposedly supporting
legislation that would increase logging in California—a bill the
Sierra Club actually opposed. And then all sorts of random people were
pied—filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, artist Andy Warhol, singer Kenny
Rogers, Jimmy Carter's brother Billy. With no quality control, the
Biotic Baking Brigade had become the Myopic Baking Brigade.
The problem was not just who was getting creamed, but the creaming itself.
Sure, pie-throwing can be good natured—like at a fundraiser at a
county fair or a college food fight. It can also be hilarious, like the
slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges or Charley Chaplin. But when done
with malice, it can easily turn sour. I remember a nasty episode when
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was pied by three people who held him
responsible for policies that created more homelessness. One of the culprits
was our friend Justin Gross. Justin was a sweet, gentle soul who cooked
us vegan lunches once a week at Global Exchange and worked with Food Not
Bombs. The mayor was hurt in the assault, and when the “piers”
were tackled to the ground by security, one of them broke her clavicle.
Justin was sentenced to six months in jail for battery.
When Sierra Club Director Carl Pope was pied, the tofu in the cream didn't
mollify him. “The pie has nothing to do with it,” Pope said
bitterly. “It's the fist behind the pie. It's like being
Now I know exactly what he meant. I often thought that if I was pied,
I'd laugh it off. Big deal. A bit of cream in the face. But it felt
like a punch in the sucker. It felt very violent. In fact, I am still
shell-shocked. When people I don't know approach me to say hello,
I flinch and brace myself for a beating.
In the wake of the assault with a high-caloric weapon, I could have followed
the footsteps of Willie Brown or Ann Coulter by pressing charges. I'd
have a great case, because I have on videotape both the successful pieing
and an unsuccessful and even more violent attempt hours earlier. But I
wouldn't do that. Why? I actually feel sorry for people who harbor
so much resentment and come from a place of such anger. Perhaps these
pie-throwers are wounded people who lack the essential ingredients of
a fulfilling life—a supportive family and community that provides
a healthy dosage of love.
I feel the love from my wonderful husband and two daughters. I feel the
love from my colleagues at Global Exchange, where we've built an
organization with 40 staff whose lives are dedicated to transforming the
world for the better. I feel it from my sisters at CODEPINK, which now
has 150,000 supporters, 250 local chapters, and a house in DC that serves
as a hub of anti-war activism and a place that empowers new activists
That's my recipe for not only a healthy life, but my contribution
to changing our world. I ask the pie-throwers, what's yours?
Instead of packing a punch, why not come over for lunch? Let's swap
our recipes for change. And I'd be happy to bake you the dessert
of your choice. May I suggest humble pie?
Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK
is accessible, even to pie-throwers, at medea [at] globalexchange.org.
If someone were to walk up to you, push you and you lost your balance and fell to the ground, would you get up, look that person in the eyes and ask, "why did you do that?" or would you get up and push that person back? Hilary, don't push back anymore, ask those persons who were the cause of this war, "why did they want this war?"
Lets stop pushing and shoving, lets stop with the lies, the blame game and take action.
Hilary, we are counting on you, as we know you have peace in your heart. Put peace back into the equation.
Hillary: I've heard it said over and over, "People either despise or adore Hillary Clinton, there's no middle ground."
I , personally, disagree. I have never really felt one way or the other about you. I keep waiting to see who you really are. What do you truly want to stand for?
Its obvious, you are intelligent, you are brave-but then what are you willing to risk everything for. You may well be defeated, but what is worth the risk? If not PEACE then what? Oh yes, we all know its complicated, and if we keep this war going it will become more complicated. We must face the fact that we are creating more and more terrorists as more and more innocents die each day. More and more money is wasted and more and more lives are broken.
The time is now- all time is now, help bring us out of this darkness! For the sake of the world- be a beacon of PEACE Hillary. Stop fluctuating- decide what your life's true mission is. What do you stand for ?
It is of the utmost importance that you become president in 2008. Young girls and women the world over are looking to you for guidance, leadership, and inspiration. Your support of Bush's War can only be detrimental to your campaign. I urge you to please rethink your position on the matter. The war has proved fruitless for nearly five years, let us not waste another five years or thousands more troops for a cause that no longer serves a purpose (and maybe never had).
Again, I urge you to reconsider your position on the War on Iraq. Today and tomorrow's women are counting on you.
When evaluating opposing arguments, we need to take into account the vested interests of the arguers (I wish this were taught in schools!).
If the side denying global warming is made up of oil companies, and the side asserting global warming is made up of scientists, we might well decide that the scientists are likely to be impartial, while the oil companies are likely to be biased.
The argument over Iraq's putative weapons of mass destruction had the Bush administration, on one hand, claiming these weapons existed, and people like Scott Ritter, Hans Blix and Middle East scholars, on the other hand, doubting that Saddam Hussein indeed had such weapons.
There were hundreds of thousands of people across the country who looked at the neocons' pro-war proclivities, their manipulative language (deliberately confusing Iraq with 9/11), Bush's lackluster presidency, his demonstrated lack of integrity, etc., and rejected their arguments.
How come we were right and almost everyone in Congress was wrong? Either our elected representatives were incapable of evaluating specious arguments, or they were suspicious of the Bushies but felt it would be political suicide to vote No. Neither option would seem to qualify someone to hold such a responsible office.
When Kerry or Edwards says his vote was a mistake, it's still not clear which of my two options he is copping to.
But you can't even manage to say that. Each time I hear the clip of you saying, "If I had known then what I know now..." my response is, "Why didn't you know? And if you couldn't even suspect you were being lied to, why would I want someone so clueless as President?"
Posted by Robert John White, Esq. on March 14th, 2007
The fallacious pretext for the invasion of Iraq was a purported cache of weapons of mass destruction. You, of all people, should have seen through the idiocy of that idea following your 8 years as first lady and access to unlimited intelligence reporting as a Senator. There were no such weapons then and there are none now, thus the pretext self-destructed.
Why are we there? To build "democracy" with an occupational army, the largest constructed foreign embassy in known history, and a system of airstrips intended to move attack vehicles into militarily strategic locations to wreak more havoc on the poor souls in the mideast. And to what American interest, I might add? The Jews security in the region? They have a military second in repugnancy only to ours and an equally bereft national will-they can fend for themselves, as they should. Nation building after its utter destruction without pretext? Only Halliburton and its abettors can buy that one, surely not the Iraqis. Could it be oil, perhaps? Ah, the pulse quickens.
Bush, Cheney, Condominium Rice and the entirety of the neocons are subhumans that don't understand that kinder and gentler murder is murder indeed and no better than the other.
Crossing international boundaries without pretext to plunder a nation's people and assets is a violation of every international and domestic law on the subject. It mandates impeachment and prosecution for crimes against humanity and if you cannot see it, do not understand it, or lack the courage to demand it, then step aside and raise more money to advance your crawl toward the destruction of America and its rebirth as USA, Inc.
Today Rep. Dennis Kucinich defied Speaker Nancy Pelosi and put the Impeachment of George W. Bush "on the table" where it urgently belongs. Kucinich said,
"This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran. Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran."
I think it can now be safely said that this administration is completely out of control and no longer even pretends to represent the best interests of the majority of the people of the United States of America. From obviously immoral meddling with the judiciary branch, to corrupt dealings with contractors that led to an intolerable deterioration in care for our wounded military, to the defiant increase in military action during a time when our economy is clearly unstable - this administration refuses to hear the voice of the people and continues to waste billions of dollars and cause needless death and destruction. The outing of a CIA operative because her husband wouldn't play ball. Warrantless wiretapping from the NSA. Mismanaged surveillance from the FBI. Torture. Lies. Theft. No branch of our federal government, not one governmental agency has escaped the touch of this administration's corruption. Honestly, what ELSE has to happen to convince this country that this administration is the out-of-control engine on a downbound train? What's it going to take? What new horror has to come to light before action is finally taken?
Hillary, please - you and Senator Schumer surely know after the recent issues with the Department of Justice that you have got to start looking at impeachment as a serious option. Both of you are powerful leaders and if you speak out on this matter it will gather the strength to become effective. I implore you to familiarize yourselves with the movement toward impeachment that other members of the Senate and Congress are putting together and join them in this necessary effort of moral courage.
Senator Clinton, I truly would like to believe that you support peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately your actions and words last summer give me no comfort that you do. To jump immediately to the defense of Israel when it waged a vicious war and committed human rights violations against the Lebanese (with the blessings of America's weapons and power), and to support Israel in its outrageous and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinians, demonstrates that you are not independent of AIPAC.
I am sorely disappointed by your lack of balance and regard for Arab and Persian lives. Israel is in the wrong in its relationships in the Middle East, and there will never be peace until people in power, such as yourself, seek true justice for all and cease supporting without question states that behave unjustly - I include in their number not only Israel but also Saudi Arabia and Egypt, all of whom we prop up with taxpayer dollars but who operate as totalitarian states. Can you not see that the blind and fervent support of United States for Israel is exactly what has destabilized the entire area and created the terrorists who hate our country?
I ask you to move decisively to end the war in Iraq NOW, bring our troops home NOW (we will never 'win' this war and you should admit that you were in error in supporting it at all); this war has not only caused the deaths of thousands of our own soldiers, but also killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and made refugees of a hundred thousand more. And for what? The lives of Iraqi women and children have descended into a living hell because of this war. The number of terrorists created by this war who despise the United States has grown like a cancer. With this war in Iraq we have taken our eyes of the target in Afghanistan and enabled the Taliban, abuser of women's rights, to regain power supported by the opium trade. If you truly care about women and children in places beyond your own constituency, end this war now, not next year, but NOW!
Please end this illegal and horrible war. Bush took us into this war on a lie and so many have died. With all of Bush's crimes the attack on a country that had nothing to do with 911 and was no threat to the us, was the worst.
Just think how you would feel if your daughter was sent to war, and did not even have training or the equipment to protect herself. We are supposed to be the most powerful; country in the world and yet we are acting like a bully and are being hated around the world.
Let us be the country who leads in peace and helps countries instead of killing them.
We must impeach Bush before he and his cronies get us into a 3rd world war---then nothing will matter, not health care, not global warming,not poverty, not pandemic disease ---because we will all be dead
Bring our troops home and work for peace and restore our battered reputation around the world.
I will vote for the peace candidate and I believe we will all be safer.
Hillary you will be the first woman President in the USA, stop the war's, get our kids home.
Take better care of our Vet's.
Impeach Bush and Cheney.
We need a better world for our children, you can be one of the one's to give it to them. Enough is enough, it is time for you to take a hard stand and get things done.
We are counting on you.
I am a former Intern and supporter of yours. I cannot and will no longer support you until you take definitive action to stop this unjust war and vote to de-fund it.
While Congress continues to send a blank check to President Bush to continue the war my friends and peers are getting injured and dying in Iraq by the thousands.
We are also suffering at home, we are paying more for education than ever before, we are dying in the streets of San Francisco at a horrific rate, and suffering from the loss of social, after school and daycare programs.
I am so disappointed in you, Senator Clinton, for enabling such a flawed and unjust federal funding agenda.
We, young Americans, oppose this war at a higher rate than any other group…and Senator Clinton, young people will not support you until you listen to us.
I have been waiting my whole life to campaign for a woman for President. But I cannot support your campaign until you clearly shift your priorities and vote to de-fund the war and invest in the youth of this country.
I don't just want a woman president; I want a woman president who will stand for peace and justice for all people.
This past Friday,
February 23, Senator Hillary Clinton held a fundraiser in San Francisco
at the Sheraton Palace Hotel. San Franciscans who have spoken out
against the war repeatedly gathered outside the hotel for a rally
and press conference urging the New York senator and presidential
would-be to put action behind her words and end the Iraq war. About
30 demonstrators outside the hotel handed out flyers that read,
“Hillary Stop Funding War” and encouraged funders entering
the event to ask Hillary hard-hitting questions about her stance
on the war.
Meanwhile, five activists made their way into the private donors-only
event. Two hotel guests found their way to seats in the audience,
while three of us entered as “caterers.” When Hillary
began her talk, we unfurled large hot pink banners that read “Hillary
Stop Funding War” and “We Need a Peace President.”
Two of us were positioned behind Hillary, which made for some excellent
photos. A third was stage right, making it appear as though there
was a sea of pink popping up around the room. The security people
were slow to respond to us and finally took our banners and escorted
On my way out I stated
very loudly and passionately, “Hillary please stop funding
the war!” As I was shouting, a woman clocked me in the chin
and hooked her fingers into my mouth, grabbing at my jaw as if to
yank it off. I felt like I was being bridled. Stunned, I didn't
speak up to demand that she be identified and held by the police.
I was amazed that here in America supporters of a presidential candidate
could so easily assault someone with an opinion they don't
approve of, and a Democrat no less. I faced a similar response at
a Hillary engagement with the BAR Association in San Francisco about
a year ago—after holding up a banner, I was chocked by the
security official, and the audience members sitting within inches
of me did nothing to help me. The anger and aggression with which
people react to our actions still astounds me. It makes those with
contrary political opinions appear tenuous at best.
After we were taken out of the event, we were detained in a small
room for the remainder of the event, cited for “disrupting
a meeting,” and released. My interaction with the SFPD was
pretty calm and respectable, but not all the protesters had such
a smooth experience.
At the start of
the event, fundraiser host Susie Beale commented that she's
eager to see change in this country, and when she and another host
asked if the room was ready for a woman president, the crowd applauded
enthusiastically. I wanted to applaud too. I was raised with the
idea that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be, and that
women could now choose their professions freely. “We don't
have to serve the boss coffee these days, so honey you be strong
and burst through that glass ceiling” was my mom's refrain.
I decided I would blast through the gender barriers in a space shuttle
as an astronaut, or stomp them out while tromping through the jungle
doing scientific research. So understandably, just like most gals
my age, I get psyched about the idea of a woman president. But I
want to see a president with values, and being a woman just isn't
enough to buy my vote. I want to vote for a peace candidate, someone
who is unafraid to take leadership to bring us out of Iraq, and
speaks out against any future aggression towards Iran.
Right now Hillary has the worst position on Iraq of any of the Democratic
presidential candidates. Her latest call for a phased withdrawal
with no end date is totally inadequate. Hillary's new legislation
puts a cap on troop levels, while units are already being deployed
to Iraq—the cow's out of the barn on that one—and
her proposal threatens to cut off funding to the Iraqis if their
government doesn't meet certain standards in six months—talk
about blaming the victim! Hillary said at the fundraiser on Friday,
as if responding to our earlier disruption, “Yes, we do have
to end the war in Iraq, and we have to do it as soon as we possibly
can!” Hillary, if this is what you believe in your heart, then
don't wait to be president to do something—act now to
bring our servicemen and women home and secure a better tomorrow
There may come a day when disrupting Hillary feels like shouting
at a brick wall, or George Bush. But for now, when Hillary is still
using the verb “listening” and is vulnerably vying for
the presidential nomination, I am still hopeful. And I'm hopeful
that Americans will keep pressuring the candidates to stand up for
peace, especially those who have the purse power to make or break
their campaigns. The bottom line to wealthy Democrats is this: Until
Hillary takes action in the Senate to responsibly end the Iraq occupation,
funding Hillary is funding war.
(which includes an interesting part about the Clintons' campaigning
tactics: “Unlike her husband, who famously strayed from his
lectern to roam audiences like Oprah Winfrey, Mrs. Clinton stays
largely static. Like a hitter in the batter's box, she stands, hands
clasped, pivoting only to take questions from audience members scattered
throughout the hall. Like her husband, however, she runs late --
23 minutes on Friday. Like Bush, the senator shook hands and took
pictures with the biggest donors behind closed doors.”
I had another one of those "Meanwhile in Baghdad"
moments when I turned on the TV today, my first day back home again in
Indiana from the front lines of the political war in Washington. CSPAN
is running video of hearings that are more than a month old while the
Mainstream Media is running live coverage of a hearing about, you guessed
it, Anna Nicole Smith. And I am baffled. They are airing live, in real
time, a hearing about what will happen with the remains of a person who
is famous for being famous, sending out national news alerts that the
Judge presiding over the hearing wept when he rendered his decision. Here's
the baffling part. For a solid month, activists and Women For Peace have
been in hearings in our nation's capital. Standing up, quite literally,
for our democracy, our rights as citizens and the human rights of others
all over the world. True, we did not have a gallon jug of methadone in
our refrigerator in the CODEPINK house on
Capital Hill--organic cheese and left over vegetarian soup are more our
speed. But we, too, have wept in hearings, and we also created quite a
ruckus on our last trip to a hotel.
the similarities begin and end, though. No one waited an inordinate amount
of time to call 911 for us. We could see the secret service out on Connecticut
Avenue counting up the six floors to pinpoint our location and put an
end to our partying. Our idea of fun was to drop a 40-foot pink
slip from the sixth floor of the 6 star Mayflower Hotel while George Bush
was speaking in a ballroom downstairs. Pink
slipping George was one of many highlights in a month filled with actions
and opportunities to work for Peace.
The past month
of living and working in D.C. with CODEPINK
has been an invaluable experience with many victories, both large and
small. The women of CODEPINK have experienced
both excitement and frustration at trying to move Congress to end this
war in Iraq and prevent another in Iran. As a small town, mid-western
woman with only a couple of years of activism under my belt, the leadership
and mentoring provided by all in CODEPINK
has been of incalculable worth. Seeing the determination on Medea Benjamin's
face each morning as we marched the eight blocks to the Capital through
the snow and ice that nearly shut down the city soothed any doubts I may
have had about our effectiveness. When Senators and Representatives thanked
us for our concern and for our participation in our democracy, all doubts
about propriety were dispelled. When Senate and House staffers followed
us to the cafeteria to thank us for speaking truth to power, all questions
about our effectiveness were quelled. When we were met on the street and
in restaurants and in hallways with smiles and "thumbs up" we
were encouraged to continue. It has been an exercise in, to reclaim verbiage
from the administration, "adapt to win".
the change over to Democratic Party Leadership in both the House and the
Senate, each day on the Hill offered challenges with dealing with Legislators
and finding the line with Capital Police. What was once arrestable is
sometimes no longer even chided. What was once unwelcome opinion and treated
as disrespectful behavior is now tolerated as part of the exercise of
free speech. Do not think that things have changed so much that the path
to peace will be a cake walk. It will not be. Congress will not step out
onto any limb until they know that not only will their grassroots break
their fall, but will grow to support the limb they have climbed out upon
and prevent it from cracking under the weight of the issues.
Despite resistance from Dems and Republicans alike, women have been fighting
valiantly in the war against the war, taking CODEPINK's
anti-war message from the curbside to Congress in a sustained non-violent
movement that has been picking up momentum and making a distinct difference
in our government's handling of war issues. Our pink
presence on the Hill has been a comfort to some, a thorn in the side to
others and a spur to those hanging politically somewhere in between. There
can be no doubt about our effectiveness, though. Whether we are attending
hearings, speaking out and being removed from those hearings, being arrested
in Congress or in Legislative offices, or executing actions that spark
the imagination and awareness of the public, the women of CodePINK
are at the forefront of the peace movement. The momentum gained from the
kick off of the occupation project must be sustained. The ground we have
gained in the halls of congress must be maintained. Fighting for it, standing
up is the only way peace and justice will be obtained.
I feel honored to have worked with so many who have given so much of
themselves to the movement, and look forward to my return to D.C.
You have portrayed yourself as a true humanitarian, supporting human rights of all people everywhere.
Surely you do not believe that this war with Iraq is humane, nor supportive of all people.
Buckle up, stiffen your spine, and tell the current resident of the White House that you will NOT support his insistence upon increasing the number of troops sent to kill and be killed in this senseless war.
You've got it in you Dear Lady, listen to the voices of those who want to support you in 2008.
As this situation in Iran is being 'created', I have gone from no faith in this administration, to darn right scared of this administration. I figured the public, the media, and the Congress would not stand for this kind of madness AGAIN, but this nightmare is coming true.
Hillary, On this day of LOVE I am asking that you imagine the mothers, sisters, and daughters that have lost loved ones and put yourself in their shoes. Can YOU be held responsible for one more death in Iraq? Afghanistan? and god forbid, IRAN?
Until you do, I cannot even consider you as a candidate for my President.
Act in Love,
I'M LUKE WARM SO FAR WITH YOUR CAMPAIGNE AND YOUR SOMEWHAT CENTRIST IDEAS! I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU AS OUR NEXT PRESIDENT, BRILLENT, A WOMAN AND CAPABLE TO RUN THIS COUNTRY BUT YOU HAVE NOT CONVINCED ME AS YET. I STILL SEE AL GORE AS THE NEXT STATESMAN OF OUR WORLD WITH HIS BRAVE FILMING OF GLOBAL WARMING,AS MUCH OR A MORE MAJOR ISSUE AS THE WAR IN IRAQ AND THE POTENTIAL WAR IN IRAN.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE NEGIGOATIONS TO BEGIN BETWEEN THE "ROGUE" COUNTRIES. STEP UP THE NEED FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY AND HELP PEOPLE SEE THE DANGERS OF GLOBAL WARMING. ENCOURAGE THE MEDIA TO WRITE THE TRUTH AND NOT EXPRESS THE PROPAGANDA OF OUR ADMINISTRATION TOWARDS IRAN.
BE BRAVE AND GUTTSY AND SHOW YOUR CONCERN FOR THIS GREAT COUNTRY AND OUR WORLD!
Let's talk amongst ourselves . . .
Today's headlines include a story about eight Kurdish PESHMERGA being targetted by the U.S. At least five were killed by what is known by the oxymoron, "friendly fire". . . How devastating,
yet it is one of the most hideous characteristics
about war and that is, "the first casualty of war is: the TRUTH".
How much scandal and untruths will we unravel about this War in the years to come ? How many of our own troops were killed by their own comrades? How many committed suicide? How many more will contemplate suicide when faced with the inevitable mental anguish that accompanies War?
These are only a few questions that will haunt us in the future. In the meantime the debate of increasing the numbers of troops (the so-called SURGE) goes on.
Instead the discussion should be about how to
increase "the electrical surge" to the population of Iraq so the children can have warm baths for the first time in years. . . or their mothers and grandmothers can wash their clothes and hang them outside to dry in the sun.
Yes the sun . . . all of ours' . . . SUN.
Does our Planet even have a future?
I don't remember the Clintons talking. . . let alone showing any support to Al Gore when he tried valiantly to prove that he indeed HAD won the election against G Dubya. Apparently there had been some sort of "falling out" between the Clintons and the Gores. Al Gore is seriously demonstrating his concern about our environmental problems. Can we even BEGIN to imagine the utter
waste in fuel that this War has cost ? It boggles
the mind. . . The original predictions and supposed funding "requests" for Bush's War were
in the single digit millions and now the costs are reaching triple digit billions. That is not to speak of the untold costs that will follow for years and years to come.
Undoubtedly someone believes that it WAS and will be WORTH it in oil revenues. Who is this someone . . .or who are these "somebodies" ?
The general population of Iraq has suffered and is suffering inordinant hardship. The various and
innumerable ethnic identities, factions and tribes
have probably regrouped a dozen times by now. The Bush Administration succeeded in creating CHAOS. What can arise out of such chaos?
I read & heard on the news that Chelsea Clinton sat next to Condaleeza Rice at Gerald Ford's Funeral. If Hillary were to be elected President do you think she'd appoint "Condie" to be a liason between the Political Parties? Or maybe
Ms. Rice should run for Vice-President alongside
Hillary, on the same ticket. As far as I'm concerned, both are high-energy "WAR APOLOGISTS"
One wonders if once people in power get "a taste" for power they become irrevocably corrupt?
Let's talk. . . let's chat.
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. The name CODEPINK satirized the Bush Administration's color-coded, fear-mongering "security" alert system that has since been phased out. CODEPINK is a lively call for the people of the world to "wage peace." More...