Tuesday, March 20, 2007 marked the 4th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In the days surrounding the anniversary, over 1000 protests, marches, demonstrations and vigils were held across the U.S. calling for immediate troop withdrawal.
In Rome, U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice organized a full day of protest, beginning the morning of the 20th with the "Fax the Facts" fax blast. We had written seven letters to Ambassador Spogli in the past, all of which remain unanswered. This time we decided to try a different approach. U.S. citizens from all over Italy were invited to send a letter via fax from our web site to the Bush Administration and our Ambassador. The message conveyed three simple facts on the war and occupation of Iraq: -- the war is destroying innocent lives: our kids' and untold numbers of Iraqis', -- the war is worsening our security, -- the war is busting our economy.
The letter also reminded Ambassador Spogli of his recent role in pressuring the Italian government to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and to approve the new U.S. military base in Vicenza, calling on the Ambassador to use his position to effect a change in U.S. foreign policy and to promote diplomatic rather than military solutions.
That afternoon, we braved freezing temperatures and marble-size hail as we stood in front of the U.S. Embassy with signs saying "Bush: You're not listening - 655,000 civilians dead" and "Spogli: You're not listening - 2,000,000 Iraqis have fled." We were joined by Italian groups such as Un ponte per., Donne in nero, Traduttori per la pace, Bastaguerra as well as Giovanni Franzoni and European Parliament Member Luisa Morgantini.
"Fax the Facts" continued despite the extreme weather conditions, as passers-by and Italian activists sent faxes from a mobile station set up right across the street from the Embassy, thanks to a laptop with a UMTS card connected to the internet.
We were interviewed by several journalists including a student from St. John's University in Rome, a podcaster and the local radio station Radio Città Aperta.
Over 100 faxes were sent to the Embassy that day.
Will this be the last anniversary in which we find ourselves calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq? The tide of public opinion is turning back home; let's work hard now to make it so.