FREE SPEECH ZONE | It’s Time to Go To Washington!

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A group of twenty-five Minnesotans have decided that “it is time to go to Washington” to press for a complete end to the U.S. wars and military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an end to U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

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The group, composed of members of local peace groups, including Women Against Military Madness, Veterans for Peace, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Pax Christi, and AlliantAction, and delegates of groups from Le Sueur, Grand Rapids, Center City, and Red Wing, will join others from around the country to participate in the Days of Nonviolent Resistance in Washington DC organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

The delegation believes the Days of Nonviolent Resistance, which extend from January 19 through February 2, come at an opportune time to speak out against the Iraq and Afghan wars and occupations and their continued funding, because it is during this time that the President will give his first State of the Union address, and he will submit his budget for FY2011.

The Minnesotan delegation chose January 26 and 27 as the dates they will participate in lobbying, legal protest and nonviolent civil disobedience.

The delegation believes that it is imperative that Americans speak out about the issue of “unending wars” at this time. Each day there are new reports of soldiers and civilians being killed, terrorist attacks, drone attacks, people fleeing their homes, increasing numbers of widows and orphans, cancer, high infant mortality, and the lack of adequate health care, food, and clean water in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are reports of corruption in the U.S. backed governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, and reports that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan strongly oppose the occupations and that a vast majority of the people in Pakistan are opposed to U.S. involvement in their country.

Yet, our government has chosen to ignore all of this. Instead, our President talks the talk of other war presidents, defending past military actions and supporting military action in the future. In reality, President Obama has gone beyond the Bush administration in Afghanistan by increasing troop levels and ordering air strikes that continue to kill innocent people. And, immediately after taking office, he sent unmanned drones across the border into Pakistan, causing hundreds of casualties and terrorizing the people.

Many in the peace community are disappointed with the direction the President has taken; however, Howard Zinn, noted historian, reminds us that we should not be surprised by President Obama’s decision. “He stands at the apex of a pyramid of power that has layer after layer of corporatists and militarists,” and not only has he not tried to dismantle it, he has been responsible for maintaining the pyramid of power.

So we are reminded once again that we cannot look to those in high political office to change the power structure. We are the ones who will have to challenge this pyramid of power if our nation is ever to live in peace with other peoples of the world.

For more information on the Days of Nonviolent Resistance, email braun044@umn.edu, call 612-522-1861, or visit Voices online at www.vcnv.org.