Sunday, July 15, 2007

CODEPINK launches Cities for Peace in Iran!

By Medea Benjamin

When Leslie Angeline started her fast to get a meeting with Senator Joseph Lieberman to talk to him about his belligerent comments about Iran, little did she know that she would be unleashing a new campaign to stop the next war now. But that's precisely what has happened.

Leslie, who went on a Global Exchange citizen diplomacy trip to Iran in May, fell in love with the Iranian people. When she heard Senator Lieberman on CBS Face the Nation on June 10 saying that he had incontrovertible evidence that Iran was training and equipping Iraqi extremists to kill American soldiers and that we should prepare for military strikes against Iran, she was so upset that she decided to go on a hunger strike until the Senator agreed to meet with her.

Leslie, with her CODEPINK friends, went to his office every day asking for a meeting with the Senator. Not only did his staff refuse to schedule a meeting, but they told her that if she stayed in the office for more than 10 minutes, they would call the police and have her arrested for loitering. On day 10, when Leslie was in the office and feeling so weak that she asked to lie down for a moment, they said no. Leslie collapsed on the floor and was rushed to the hospital for dehydration.

Still she refused to eat and Leslie, with other CODEPINK activists, dogged the Senator wherever they could find him--in Congressional hearings, in the halls, outside his office. Each time, they would plead for a meeting.

On the 22nd day of her hunger strike, Leslie was getting desperate. She decided that this time, she'd go into his office asking for a meeting and wouldn't leave. After a few minutes, they called the police. This tiny woman who hadn't eaten in weeks was hauled out of Lieberman's office in handcuffs.

When a photo of Leslie getting arrested in his office appeared the next day on the front page of the influential Capitol Hill paper Roll Call, Lieberman must have been embarrassed. This time, when Leslie went to his office and once again asked to meet, she was told that finally, the Senator had relented and she would be granted a 5-minute meeting the following day under the conditions that she come alone and without press.

The next day, the 24th day of her fast, Leslie appeared in Lieberman's office for the meeting. She was not alone, though. She brought with her Ali Nasri, a young Iranian who happened to be in DC with a group of 13 Iranians cycling around the US for peace. She thought it was so important for Lieberman to hear directly from an Iranian who had to live with the consequences of the military threats from the US.

The Senator met with Leslie first, then allowed Ali to join them. The meeting was not only cordial, but Leslie and Ali felt they actually touched his heart with their sincerity and their arguments that his belligerent talk actually hurt the chances of Iranian civil society from flourishing and instead strengthened the government. They ended the meeting by breaking bread with the Senator.

While delighted that she had a chance to present her views to Lieberman, Leslie and the CODEPINK activists have learned not to put their faith in politicians. So we have decided to launch a new campaign called Cities for Peace with Iran, aimed at getting communities all over the country to pass city resolutions against going to war with Iran.

The campaign, launched on July 16, will be a great way to pay tribute to Leslie's sacrifice. And it will be a great way for Americans to show their determination to live in peace with the people of Iran. Check here for information on how to get involved by passing a resolution in your city, inviting a speaker to your community and/or visiting Iran as a citizen diplomat.

What we can learn from the war in Iraq is that once a war has started, it acquires a momentum of its own and becomes harder and harder to stop. That’s why it’s so critical to prevent a war with Iran before it starts, and holding elected officials like Senator Lieberman to account is a key element of stopping the next war now.


caterliz said...


we all(peacepeople and families of military)
owe Leslie a thanks for
taking on bully LIEberman
and his rhetoric of hate mongering!

speaking truth to power takes courage.......
hugs to leslie!!!!

CODEPINK said...

Great report on a very important campaign, and a very special activist/mother/truth-teller, Leslie Angeline! Her story, and that of Miles for Peace cyclists, including Ali, will touch many hearts!

thanks from Janet

Ryan from Richmond said...

Way to get him to the meeting table, Leslie! Good interview on Democracy Now this morning. Nice to have additional perspective from Ali.

JimPreston said...

What a great plan to keep this action moving forward towards more peace and human interaction!!! Leslie is amazing!!!

cpapermaster said...

Leslie is a true patriot and her courage is amazing! I would find it impossible to talk to Lieberman, who I consider a war monger, but Les is so peace-loving and brave, she was able to break through and get him to listen. Thank you so much Leslie.
Love and hugs,

Anonymous said...

We each do what we can. My route was to write a book on US-Iran relations, from a Christian perspective. I hope that you can read it, Leslie, and let me know what you think. Tell me where to send it (by email, or on a floppy, since I haven't found a publisher yet). I met Medea and others in Chicago (at UFPJ). Keep up the good work, and stay hydrated!
Alex Patico

Margot Smith said...

What a great thing Leslie is doing!!

I was in Iran in March, 2007 with a delegation from Fellowship of Reconciliation. We met with Imams, the vice President, students, professors and people...

My video of the trip shows their humanity, position on nuclear, and the wonderful historic places. It would be great if we could give a copy to Lieberman and show him who and what he would like to bomb. Actually, anyone who advocates against and works to prevent the bombing of Iran is welcome to one.

If you would like a copy of "Listen to Iran's People: A Call for Peace" email me your address to

Margot Smith

pau8kangas said...

Leslie & Jes, Great work on the chess board of war & Peace. I miss Gandhi.

paul8kangas on You tube

Mahvash said...

Dear Leslie & Jes,
It is so refreshing to see that some brave Americans are taking steps in to informing the rest of us as what is happening in Iran. At the time the state department is trying to scare Americans from traveling to countries
such as Iran I think it is very courages of people like you to have an open mind about finding out what a truth is. People like you bring hope to the world.

Anonymous said...

Hello all you beautiful women and supportive beautiful men. I am a retired social worker, and am Indian and Swedish married to an Iranian man. I would love to travel to D.C. and Iran and support all of your efforts however, my income is limited, so I would just like to know how I can support you from here in New Mexico?
God Bless.

Anonymous said...

What a brave and courageous woman to look a warmonger in the eye and speak Peace.

Keep Speaking Truth to Power!

Resist and Refuse!

Just another woman wanting PEACE for our children, not war, hatred, racism, destroyed earth, and more death and destruction!

Eileen Murphy said...

President Bush has threatened to invade or bomb Iran ever since the Iraq war turned sour. How can we stop this moron?
Our troops are worn out and worn so thin they are ready to collapse. He doesn't have any replacements and makes the exhausted ones stay longer. Voting democratic may be our only hope. Anyone running would be better than any Republican in my opinion People like Leslie are wonderful and inspiring. What happened to our values with this administration?

Anonymous said...

I have tremendous respect for your sacrific and determination. Thank you for taking these measures in hopes of averting another war. Bringing those Iranian young adults may have helped personalize the effects of Leberman's comments. I hope their faces stay with him as Bush beats the war drums.

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