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Press release: Protesters demand Obama end Afghanistan War

Anti-war groups demand end to Afghan War,
demonstrate at the White House

For Immediate Release Sept. 27, 2009
Contact: Pete Perry, 202-631-0974; Gael Murphy, 202-412-6700

Washington – Disappointed with President Obama’s unwillingness to significantly change course from the Bush administration in Afghanistan, and alarmed by the recent troop build-up there, national anti-war groups will be joining together October 5th in a day of nonviolent direct action, during the week the Afghanistan War begins its ninth year. The coalition includes the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Code Pink, Peace Action, the Black is Back Coalition, Progressive Democrats of America, the War Resisters League, the Washington Peace Center, World Can’t Wait, Veterans for Peace, and Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Joining them will be Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey Sheehan, a soldier killed in Iraq in 2004.

The White House action — the first such protest aimed specifically at the war in Afghanistan — comes at a time when domestic support for the war is slipping badly and members of Congress are asking that the Obama administration rethink the entire approach to the conflict. The war increasingly appears unwinnable, unnecessary, and misguided, draining American lives and resources, causing immense suffering among Afghan civilians, and rallying a broad-based insurgency whose main goal is to end the US occupation — not to engage in long-range terrorist attacks against the United States. By destabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan and stoking greater hatred of the United States, the war further weakens American security.

The coalition will deliver a letter to the president and request a meeting with him at 11:45 a.m. on Monday, October 5th. If the meeting is refused, dozens of peace and justice activists are prepared to risk arrest, in the tradition of Gandhi, Dr. King, and Dorothy Day, in order to persuade the commander-in-chief to meet their demands. The October 5 coalition demands:

1) That the U.S. cease its combat operations and military occupation of Afghanistan as well as its military operations in Pakistan, withdrawing all troops as soon as possible.
2) That the U.S. engages in vigorous international aid efforts, particularly medical assistance and infrastructure reconstruction, in Afghanistan.
3) That the U.S. closes the prison at Bagram Air Base, releasing those who have been held with no charges, and prosecuting suspected terrorists in civilian courts. The same should happen immediately at Guantanamo.
4) That money appropriated for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq be used for life-affirming programs in the U.S. and abroad, such as health care and housing for the poor.

“We are coming to the White House to insist that the government confront the realities of the war in Afghanistan and change course,” says Jeff Leys, co-director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence based in Chicago. “How long will the American people be asked to pay for death and destruction there, when we face so many urgent problems at home?”

The action at the White House will be preceded by a rally starting at 10:30 a.m. in McPherson Square. Lifelong war resister Liz McAlister of Jonah House will be the featured speaker.



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