Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Along with everyone else in Pakistan two members of Code Pink have been targeted by the police protesting the emergency rule imposed by one of President Bush's most favorite people.

Lahore police arrested the two US nationals, Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry, who who had come to Pakistan in order to participate in the protest demonstration against the detention of Chaudary Aitzaz Ahsan and curbs on media.

An outspoken critic of the Musharraf administration -- Aitzaz,the former federal minister, PPP member of parliament in the outgoing National Assembly and recently-elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association -- was one of the first persons to be taken into custody when emergency was declared on November 3.

He was scheduled for release on December 3, but instead the government added 30 days to his confinement.

According to International: The News (Pakistan):

"Aitzaz is, by any yardstick, a popular politician, a brilliant orator and a successful lawyer -- right now he is the man the government is so scared of that he has again been caged for 30 days. He is also a candidate in the Jan 8 election and how can he possibly woo his constituents if he is detained. This would suggest that what the government is doing in his case is nothing more than pre-poll rigging -- and that too of the most blatant kind."

Talking to reporters, Benjamin said they had come to Pakistan to learn about the political situation after the imposition of emergency rule. She said Musharraf’s claims that all lawyers and politicians had been freed were false because the SCBA president was still under house arrest. Pointing to a board outside Aitzaz’s residence declaring the house a ‘sub-jail’, she said, “This is ridiculous. We love Pakistan. We want peace to prevail in Pakistan. If Musharraf is a democrat, he should free Aitzaz and restore the deposed judges.”

The following is from the Washington Times.

Pakistan to deport Code Pink protesters

Pakistan authorities today ordered the deportation of the leader of the feminist U.S. antiwar group Code Pink, who was in Lahore to join protests against the emergency rule imposed by President Pervez Musharraf, according to a spokeswoman for the group.

Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the group, said she was arrested at a student demonstration by agents of the Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence and detained for about four hours before being released with orders to leave the country tomorrow morning. Pakistan officials told Ms. Benjamin that she was being deported for joining illegal protests.

"I'm OK — a little shaken up," Ms. Benjamin told The Washington Times by telephone from her hotel in Lahore. "They mistreated us."

Ms. Benjamin said she feared for her life as the agents held her at gunpoint in a car speeding through the city to the police station.

"I thought I was going to die in the car," she said. "They totally terrorized us."

Pakistani authorities also detained and then ordered the deportation of Tighe Barry, a longtime Code Pink activist who was participating with the student rally outside the Lahore Press Club.

"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."

Code Pink activists are arrested regularly in Washington for disrupting 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, wrapping her arms around Miss Rice and screaming "war criminal" as she displayed her red-painted hands.

The plainclothes officers first approached Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Barry as the pair arrived at the rally and told them that their visas had expired and that they would have to leave, she said.

Ms. Benjamin said their visas were valid at the time of the arrest.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy was not available for immediate comment.

An altercation ensued after the agents told them to leave, said Code Pink spokeswoman Dana Balicki.

"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.

Ms. Benjamin said that when she and Mr. Barry left the club, the agents on three motorcycles followed the car through the city. Agents in another car cut them off and then, with guns drawn, the officers took them into custody.

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.

Protests against the war in Iraq by Code Pink members, often clad in pink shirts and pink tiaras, have become a fixture on Capitol Hill.

Ms. Benjamin said her ordeal in Pakistan had not changed her view of the protest she leads in the United States. Rather, she said, she was inspired by the struggle of lawyers, judges and students against the emergency rule imposed Nov. 3 by Mr. Musharraf.

"We'll probably be doing a protest at the Pakistan Embassy as soon as we get back to D.C.," Ms. Benjamin said.

Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Barry plan to fly back to Washington tomorrow.

No comments: