Women (and men!) Say No To War
International Women's Day at the U.S. Embassy in Rome
On March 8, 2006, International Women's Day, women (along with men!) all over the world heeded the call for a day of protest against the military occupation of Iraq to be held at U.S. embassies. The international campaign, Women Say No To War, was launched by CodePink and Alice Walker, Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Margaret Cho and Barbara Lee along with Iraqi women and peace activists around the globe.
USC4P&J helped organize a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Rome along with Italian peace activists and women's groups. The appeal called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and a permanent end to rape, torture, human rights violations, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons and civilian massacres.
Approximately 100 people participated that day to speak out against war and crimes against humanity. Our group in particular focused on torture. We had black hoods, each with a letter spelling out "Stop Torture", a flyer in English and Italian exposing the truth about torture as well as a "live" rendition of what has become an icon for torture, the hooded prisoner from Abu Ghraib standing on a box with wires dangling from his wrists.
With signs, Italian and U.S. peace flags, banners, chants and a megaphone, we attracted the attention of passing cars and pedestrians. As motorists waited for the traffic signal to change, they were offered flyers and many responded favorably to our efforts. And a Pacifica radio station from Berkeley, California called during the protest for a report.
The Women Say No To War campaign collected over 100,000 signatures in just three months. A small delegation of women from our group attempted to deliver a representation of the petition to Ambassador Spogli. At the embassy gates, the police asked us to wait while they talked with the embassy staff. We were then told it was not possible to deliver the petition, as there was no one to receive it, but they would provide us with a special mailing address where we could send the petition. After waiting about 10 minutes, we were handed a piece of paper with the address we have been writing to for 5 months, with no response.
At least we weren't arrested, which is what happened to Cindy Sheehan and 3 others when they attempted to deliver the petition to John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in New York. In fact, we had some signs calling attention to the arrest that included "Arrest the War Criminals, Not Cindy" and "Cindy Arrested! Is it a Crime to ask for Peace?"
Events were held all over the U.S. as well as many countries around the world. Our friends of U.S. Citizens Against War in Florence also held a protest in front of the office of the Prefect. They were successful in delivering the petition to the Italian authorities who would then deliver it to the U.S. Consul.
Special thanks to all those who worked to make this protest a success. Our voices were heard and we made an impact. Now let's get ready for the national demonstration in Rome on March 18, third anniversary of the war and International Day of Protest.
And if you haven't already, it's not too late to sign the Women Say No To War petition: www.womensaynotowar.org
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Copyright © 2006 Stephanie Westbrook All rights reserved
U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome, Italy