On December 4th, our own Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry were arrested at gun point in Pakistan during their visit to support pro-democracy activists. Upon leaving a student rally at the Lahore Press Club with a group of journalists, their car was pulled off the road. Armed policemen lept out of cars and off motorcycles and surrounded their car, guns drawn. They forced the driver and journalists out, beat passers-by looking at the scene, hijacked the car with Medea and Tighe inside, and raced recklessly through the crowded streets of Lahore to the police station.
Medea and Tighe were never charged with anything but they were forced to leave the country on the next flight. Their brutal arrest and deportation was just a glimpse at what activists in Pakistan go through as they struggle to bring democracy to their country.
Medea wrote: "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. But despite the repression, the lawyers, students and journalists are back out on the streets every day. We left Pakistan shaken by our treatment but in awe of the heroism and courage our Pakistani friends." To read Medea's blogs and find out more about the situation, please click here.
The Pakistani activists are calling for the release of all political prisoners, no press censorship, and restoration of the independent judges who Musharraf had fired. Our government should freeze its economic assistance to Pakistan until these conditions are met.
Call the Pakistan Desk at the State Department: 202-647-9823. Tell them you condemn the brutal treatment of Pakistani civil society and CODEPINK activists, and demand that the US government suspend any financial aid until the rule of law is restored. You can also sign our petition here.
Thank you for helping us promote peace worldwide.
With peace and determination, even in the face of brutality,
Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Ileana, Jodie, Medea, Nancy, Rae, and Samantha
Pledge to have a Peaceful Holiday Season!
We hope you have joined our December pledge to have a peaceful holiday season! If not, please sign up now to commit to taking action with our 10 Ways to Have a Peaceful Holiday Season in 2007.
This week, we want to highlight two actions from our holiday list--educating our friends and family, and shopping responsibly.
- First, please tell your family and friends about Medea and Tighe's delegation to Pakistan. Educating the people in our lives is a way to create a ripple effect that will spread peace and inspire change throughout our community and beyond. For talking points, please click here.
- This season, we especially want to bring attention to the millions of Iraqi women and children who have been displaced by war. We don't hear their stories often enough; when we share information about the refugees' plight, we can be their voices.
If you donate now, and encourage those in your lives to donate as well, half the money will go toward helping Iraqi women and children, and half will go toward supporting CODEPINK.
- You can also use your dollars to promote peace by shopping online at our CODEPINK store. We have a wide variety of gifts for everyone on your list—everything from Babies for Peace onesies to Make Love, Not War panties.
And now, you can Make Coffee, Not War, as well!. We just launched our own label of fair trade, organic coffee through our partnership with Las Hermanas, a women-initiated empowerment project of the SOPPEXCCA Coffee Cooperative in Nicaragua. With each rich, delicious sip, you will be supporting women around the world. And remember--with each person you inspire to join our pledge , you will be taking one step closer to winning a trip to join us in DC!