Pakistan grabs Code Pink protesters
By S.A. Miller, December 4, 2007
Pakistan police today arrested the leader of the feminist U.S. antiwar group Code Pink, who was in Lahore for a student peace rally, according to a spokeswoman for the group.
Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the group, was arrested by plainclothes police with guns drawn and taken to a police station in Lahore, spokeswoman Dana Balicki said.
Police also arrested Tighe Barry, a longtime Code Pink activist, who was participating with the student rally outside the Lahore Press Club.
The students were protesting the emergency rule imposed Nov. 3 by President Pervez Musharraf.
Police told Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Barry they had to leave the country because their visas had expired, Ms. Balicki said, adding that their visas were valid.
“The government agents grabbed Barry by the arm and tried to hold him. Benjamin got help from some journalists, who managed to escort the two activists inside the club,” Ms. Balicki said.
She said that when Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Barry left the club, the plainclothes police on three motorcycles followed the car through the city and then, with guns drawn, arrested the pair.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when the Pakistani government — a government that is trying to portray itself to the West as democratic — tries to harass and deport U.S. human rights activists,” Ms. Benjamin said at the press club before her arrest. “If they do this to us, who have the protection of being U.S. citizens, imagine what they do to their own citizens.”
Ms. Balicki reported that Khummeram Khosa, a lawyer in Lahore who was driving the car for Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Barry, said he expected the pair would be released soon because the police “don’t have the guts to hold them for long.”
Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Barry have been in Pakistan since Nov. 25 to support opponents of the emergency rule, including lawyers, judges and students.
Earlier, they conducted a 24-hour vigil outside the home of lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, who is under house arrest.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy was not available for immediate comment.
Protests against the war in Iraq by Code Pink members, often clad in pink shirts and pink tiarras, have become a fixture on Capitol Hill.
Code Pink activist are arrested regularly for disrupt congressional hearings on the war, targeting Democrats and Republicans with protests.
A Code Pink activist was arrested in October after rushing up to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, wrapped her arms around her and screamed “war criminal,” as she displayed her red painted hands.