Alice Walker, Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Margaret Cho, Barbara Lee and Others Join Iraqi Women to Urge the Withdrawal of Foreign Troops and Foreign Fighters from Iraq
Women Political Leaders, Military Mothers, Veterans, Actors and Authors Launch Petition Drive and Plan for Worldwide Protests on International Women's Day
On Thursday, January 5, women from around the world—from the US to Iraq to Britain to Japan—launched a campaign aimed at ending the Iraq war and all attacks on Iraqi civilians in 2006. As a first step, the Women Say No to War Campaign will gather some 100,000 signatures by March 8, International Women's Day, when US and Iraqi women will deliver the signatures to leaders in Washington, DC and women around the world will deliver them to US embassies.
Initiated by the group CODEPINK: Women for Peace, this is the first campaign that brings women together across borders to demand an end to the bloodshed in Iraq. “The response to our initial call has been overwhelming—we have over 200 prominent endorsers, and more than 3,000 women have signed on before we even launched the campaign. We're unleashing a global chorus of women's voices shouting ‘Enough!,'” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the groups CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Global Exchange.
Among the 200 high-profile women who endorsed the call are Gold Star mothers Cindy Sheehan of the US and Rose Gentle of Scotland; Actors/Performers Susan Sarandon, Eve Ensler, and Margaret Cho; Authors Alice Walker, Anne Lamott, Maxine Hong Kingston and Barbara Ehrenreich; and Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney and Lynn Woolsey of the US, Libby Davies of Canada, and Caroline Lucas of the UK. Iraqi women endorsers include Yanar Mohammed of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and Hana Ibrahim of Iraqi Women's Will.
“Iraqi women are devastated now, and it will take us decades of struggle to regain a peaceful and civilized life,” said Yanar Mohammed. “The US occupation has planted seeds of ethno-sectarian division, preparing Iraq for a civil war, and has blessed religious supremacy over and against human and women's rights.”
The majority of people in Iraq, the US, the UK and around the world oppose the Iraq war, which has thus far cost the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis (estimates range from 27,736 to 100,000); 2,182 US troops; 98 UK troops; and hundreds of humanitarian workers. As the three-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the country is still wracked by violence, Iraqi civilians are suffering from a lack of basic services, including electricity and clean water, and women's rights are under attack.
The Women Say No to War Campaign urges a shift in strategy in Iraq, from a military model to a conflict resolution model. It calls for a withdrawal of all foreign troops and foreign fighters from Iraq, for the full representation of women in the peacemaking process, and for a commitment to women's full equality in the post-war Iraq.
The call reads in part, “We, the women of the United States, Iraq and women worldwide, have had enough of the senseless war in Iraq and the cruel attacks on civilians around the world. We've buried too many of our loved ones. We've seen too many lives crippled forever by physical and mental wounds. We've watched in horror as our precious resources are poured into war while our families' basic needs of food, shelter, education and healthcare go unmet. …
“This is not the world we want for ourselves or for our children. With fire in our bellies and love in our hearts, we women are rising up - across borders - to unite and demand an end to the bloodshed and the destruction.”
Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed fighting in Iraq, said, “The pain that this war has caused for people all over the world is unimaginable. I've met women from so many different countries who are ready to stand together to make our leaders end this madness, and it doesn't matter that we speak different languages – our hearts understand the pain and needless loss that have been caused by this war.”
To read the full text of the call and view a list of the initial signatories, see http://www.womensaynotowar.org.