BREAKING: 9 Members of The Encampment to Stop the War Arrested at first House Appropriations Committee Meeting (Updated)
By Les Blough in Washington
Mar 15, 2007
This morning The Encampment to Stop the War went into the Rayburn Building to confront the Democrats as the House Appropriations Committee holds their first meeting to fund the continuation of the slaughter in Iraq. 10 Encampment members were arrested. A few of us were the first in line in the hallway outside the chamber where the meeting is now taking place. The balance of Encampment members picketed the outside of the building.
In the hallway outside the chamber they lined us up for entrance into the chamber. After waiting for about an hour, the Capital Police opened up a door on the other end of the hallway to bring a large number of staffers in. The police then told us that there would not be enough room for us to attend the public meeting. The time was 8:56, 4 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. About a dozen Encampment members and several members of Code Pink began to chant:
“LET US IN – IT’S THE PEOPLES’ HOUSE!”
As Encampment members became louder demanding their right to attend this public meeting. The police arrested 3 members of the Encampment in the hallway: GAEL MURPHY,
RALPH LOEFFLER, MEL STEVENS
Gael, Ralph and Mel sat down on the floor and refused to leave as everyone loudly demanded their right to attend this important meeting. The police forced them face down on the floor, handcuffed them and took them out. The protest in the hallway became louder and the House Appropriations Committee were forced to delay their meeting by about a half hour because of the growing disturbance directly outside the chamber doors.
Following these arrests, 6 more Encampment Members were arrested for blocking the front door of the Rayburn Building: SHARON BLACK, SARA FLOUNDERS, DUSTIN LANGLEY, LARRY HOLMES, LORIE BLANDING, BOB NASH.
They are now being held in jail by the Washington DC police department pending charges. Encampment to Stop the War attorneys, Buddy Spell and Ann Wilcox held a press conference shortly after the arrests and are now working to secure their release.
Encampment Women Confront the Iraqi Embassy in Washington
By Les Blough in Washington
Mar 14, 2007, 21:11
This report is an account of one of several actions carried out by the Encampment Against the War today. LeiLani Dowell and Namwiinga Simwiinga-Khumalo led a delegation of 12 women to the Iraqi Embassy to protest the new, U.S.-backed Iraqi government’s decision to hang 3 Iraqi women, Wassan Talib, Zainab Fadhil and Liqa Muhammad for their resistance to the U.S. occupation. The women were sentenced to hang on March 3rd for carrying out successful military operations against the U.S. military and Iraqi police. One of them gave birth to a child and is now nursing the baby in prison. There has been a total corporate media blackout on these death sentences. However, the alternative internet media brought massive international pressure upon the U.S. and Iraqi governments and the women were given a temporary reprieve.
The delegation of women from the Encampment to Stop the War arrived at the Iraqi Embassy at 2:50 p.m March 15, 2007. They broke out placards and began marching in a circle in front of the embassy. Passing motorists saw their placards and honked horns of support. They caused enough of a raucous to cause people inside the embassy began looking out their windows. Two Secret Service men approached the women. The SS asked them what they were doing there. LeiLani Dowell told them they were there to protest the war in Iraq and the hanging of these women. She told them they came from the Encampment to Stop the War to present petitions to the Iraqi Ambassador, seeking the freedom of the women. She told them they chose to come at this time because their mission is a matter of live and death – and because March 8 happens to be International Working Women’s Day and March is International Women’s Month.
The Secret Service told the women, “Historically the embassy does not accept material petitions – only via e-mails and letters. You cannot go inside the embassy.” The women replied that the embassy has already received tens of thousands of emailed petitions about the death sentence of these 3 women from the international campaign for their freedom and has been completely unresponsive. Realizing that today’s delegation of women were not going to go away, the Secret Service agreed to talk to someone inside the embassy. He returned to tell them someone inside would come out to talk with them. The women continued to conduct their protest and eventually a man came out to speak with them. He identified himself as Rafi Ahmad, Assistant to the Ambassador. He told the women he would accept their petition outside the building but would not allow them to enter. LeiLani Dowell told him, “We want to be clear against the death penalty and the first thing the new Iraqi government did was to establish the death penalty. She told him that were it not for international pressure, his government would have hanged these 3 courageous women on March 3rd. Another member of the delegation told him that they came to Washington from across the United States to present their petition but the ambassador wouldn’t even let them into the building. Mr. Ahmad only replied with a terse, “Thank you”. Ms. Dowell asked him, “What are you going to do with the petitions? “Send them back home, he replied. Ms. Namwiinga Simwiinga-Khumalo told Mr. Ahmad that it is disrespectable to keep visitors in the street. She told him that the Iraqi Ambassador is in the United States to help resolve international issues, that this is definitely international in scope and that he is not fulfilling his diplomatic responsibilities. She told him his refusal to invite them into “his house” to receive the petitions and discuss these urgent matters was completely undiplomatic. When asked about meeting with an alternative top-level official, since he claimed the ambassador was not present at the Embassy, Mr. Ahmad replied that nobody else was in the Embassy—despite the fact that the women had seen several people peeping outside the Iraqi embassy windows while the protest went on.