Wisconsin Activists Join Others at White House Demanding End to Afghan War

Press release from Wisconsin anti-war activists:

Disappointed with President Obama’€™s unwillingness to significantly change course from the Bush Administration, and his talk of troop increases in Afghanistan, a coalition of national anti-war groups will be joining together on October 5th in a day of nonviolent direct action at the White House.  Members of the coalition include National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Peace Action, the War Resister’€™s League, Code Pink, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Vets for Peace, World Can’€™t Wait, and others.

They have sent a letter to President Obama, and will be at the White House at 11:45 am on Monday Oct. 5 to deliver a strong message of peace, requesting a meeting with the president.  In the event that the meeting is refused, dozens of peace and justice activists, including Joy First, Monona, WI, and Phil Runkel, Waukesha, WI, will be prepared to risk arrest in the spirit of nonviolence in order to persuade the commander-in-chief to meet their demands.   Jennifer First, Madison, WI, and Mary Krolikowski, Milwaukee, WI, will also be at the White House in solidarity and support.

The demands are as follows:

1) That the U.S. ceases its immoral and unlawful combat operations and military occupation of the sovereign nation of Afghanistan.  Also, that the bombings and all other incursions into Pakistan be immediately stopped and all U.S. troops be removed from Iraq now.

2) That the U.S. engages in vigorous international aid efforts, particularly medical assistance and infrastructure reconstruction, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

3) That the U.S. closes the prison at Bagram Air Base, and releases those who have been held with no charges.  Those who have been charged with a crime will be tried in civilian courts.  The same should happen immediately at Guantanamo.

4) That money appropriated for the disastrous and tragic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is instead used for life-affirming programs in the U.S. and abroad, such as health care and housing for the poor.

‘€œWe are not going to the White House because we want to get arrested, but we are going because it is our right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and it is our obligation under Nuremberg to act when our government is breaking the law.  Too many innocent people have suffered and died as a result of our government’€™s illegal actions and I must follow my conscience in speaking out.’€ says First.

The action will take place as we begin our 9th year of war and destruction in Afghanistan.  Those risking arrest will remember the suffering of the innocents by wearing names of those who have died in the illegal and immoral wars of aggression by the U.S.   

Runkel talks about why he is putting himself at risk in order to speak out.  He says, ‘€œI’€™m inspired by the likes of Dorothy Day, who devoted her life to performing the Works of Mercy, and resisting the Works of War. We are called to ‘€˜seek peace and pursue it,’€™ as best we can.’€  And that is just what Runkel, First and the others will be doing on October 5 at the White House.

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