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Activists Around the Country Speak Out

StoryOctober 19, 2001
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Democracy Now! in Exile is continuing to document the efforts of activists around the country organizing for peace.

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AMY GOODMAN: And we have been asking listeners around the country what they are doing in this time of war, and listeners have been calling in. This is what some of them have to say.

KATHLEEN: This is Kathleen, and we’re calling from Arcata, California. I’m with the group Mothers for Nonviolence, Women Against Military Madness. And we are trying to get a grassroots movement going across the country. We’ve been trying to contact students at Occidental in Los Angeles, and we’re going to Eugene this weekend. What we’re trying to do is get people all over the country to get some people to fast and sit in front of stores to raise money for the Afghan Women’s Mission, who send money directly to RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. And this idea came about because we had an individual named Eli Manders who decided to start fasting himself five days ago, and he’s been doing that in front of our coop. And what we’re trying — we’re also trying to call for women, especially women with children, to go and sit with the people that are fasting, and support them in that struggle, so it’s a very visual sign that women and children in this country are supporting the women and children in Afghanistan.

ELI MANDERS: I started fasting on Sunday in front of the Arcata coop. I’ve made a few signs that said, “I am fasting to bring awareness to the seven-and-a-half million Afghans facing starvation this winter. Please consider donating the price of a meal to them.” And I got the idea to call what I was doing “Operation Enduring Winter,” to kind of poke fun at what we’re calling the operation, or the military is calling the operation.

KATHLEEN: The Afghan Women’s Mission sends money directly to RAWA, and they don’t tell them what to do with their money. The Afghan Women’s Mission believes that they, the people, the women of Afghanistan, should have control over what they do with it. And so their two main focuses right now are emergency relief work and also to try and reopen the Malalai Hospital. They want to have an Afghan-run hospital there, so instead of when an emergency happens, people need to send in medical supplies, they already have a permanent structure and people there that are already doing the same things.

ELI MANDERS: And the hospital had been open for about 10 years and closed in '97 due to a lack of financial support. So, that's one of the specific things I’m raising money for, is to reopen that hospital now.

KATHLEEN: And they’re also using money to get RAWA members out of Afghanistan. And you can check out their website at AfghanWomensMission — that’s all together — dot.org.

AMY GOODMAN: Two of the listeners who called in to 212-209-2999. You, too, can do that and talk about what you’re doing. We are documenting the peace movement in this country. And among those who spoke at a peace protest in New York this past weekend was the Reverend Al Sharpton.

REV. AL SHARPTON: I come today to join others in saying that we are not those that oppose the standing up against terrorism. We are those that oppose trying to use bombs and violence against people and against situations, that clearly this country has no value for innocent lives when we arbitrarily think that if we continue having bloodshed for bloodshed, that solves the problem. Dr. Martin Luther King said that if we live under the adage that the blind must lead the blind, under the feeling that we must have an eye for an eye, then everyone ends up blind. It is not that we don’t love; it’s that we do not feel that you meet the kind of terror and bestiality with bin Laden by our turning around and saying that what is going on with the foreign policy of this country will solve the problem. Clearly, clearly, we all feel and we’re all outraged at terrorism in the World Trade Center. But to turn around now and to say that the solution is not to deal with Americans’ policy of unilateralism, but to turn around and go into a military bombing exercise, does not solve the problem, and it does not raise the moral level where it ought to be.

Let us — there will be those that say that we are not patriotic, but shedding American blood is not patriotism. Being insensitive to people, civilians in Afghanistan is not patriotism. Passing anti-terrorist legislation that gives the right to wire and bug full buildings and to have roaming wiretaps and to take civil liberties and civil rights from American citizens is not patriotism. Passing $100 billion tax cuts for big corporations and the rich, while poor people are the ones that suffered, working-class people are the ones that were under the rubble at ground zero, is not patriotism.

We are standing up for what’s best in America. And that is the advocacy of trying to deal with peace, trying to deal with not having the military-industrial complex in spite a situation and not robbing people of their civil rights and civil liberties, acting as if the only way to deal with this is to put us under a police state, rather to join a global world of dialogue where people are free of terror and terrorism. We should not be afraid to stand up for a peaceful resolution. We should not be afraid to stand up against unilateral foreign policies. We should not be afraid to say that we are against terrorism and victims of violence, whether it is in our country, whether it is in Israel, whether it is in Afghanistan. It’s time to stop the shedding of innocent blood, and we must be against it, no matter where it is.

I do not believe that innocent children in Afghanistan are in any way the reason and supporters of bin Laden, any more than I believe that any of the innocent people in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon were responsible for the policies that are now being given by Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Ashcroft, that would lead toward the robbery of our civil rights. It’s time for people all over the world to stand together against those that are the purveyors of violence, and say that we will stand up and say, “Stop all the bloodshed. Stop all the exploitation. Stop all the ruthlessness. And give peace a chance.” Thank you! God bless you!

AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Al Sharpton, speaking this weekend at Washington Square Park in New York at a rally of more than a thousand people, as people are protesting not only in this country but around the world against the bombing of Afghanistan. And as we’ve said, we’ve been playing listeners’ comments, listening to them through the week. Here’s another of a listener who called in to let us know what she was doing.

BARBARA SMITH: Hello. This is Barbara Smith calling from Albany, New York. I listen to you on WRPI, and I just wanted to let you know that we’ve been organizing for peace since — really, since a few days after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. We had a large community forum on September the 20th at the Albany Public Library. It was attended by 160 or so people. And then, on September the 29th, we had a wonderful rally outdoors, which we called Stand for Peace. And several hundred people attended that. The name of our organization is the Capital District Stand for Peace Coalition. We meet weekly. And we are planning to have probably a teach-in on November the 3rd in solidarity with the Third World Peace — Third World and Peace Action Coalition.

AMY GOODMAN: And we will be playing comments throughout next week, as well. Listeners have been calling in from around the country. That does it for the program. You can email us at mail@democracynow.org. Democracy Now! in Exile is produced by Kris Abrams, Brad Simpson, Miranda Kennedy, Anthony Sloan; our technical director, Errol Maitland, is at WBIX.org, where you can hear us, as well as WebActive.com. Thanks to Amy Pomerleau at KPFA and Free Speech Radio News producer Aaron Glantz, everyone at KPFA and affiliate station KFCF in Fresno, to all the Pacifica affiliate stations around the country. We are Pacifica. Thanks to the Independent Media Center and Downtown Community Television, Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, who host us. We’re broadcasting on WFMU here in New York at 91.1 FM, breaking the sound barrier and broadcasting at Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Free Speech TV, channel 9415, on the DISH Network. We thank the listeners who called in, and we are still looking for Mac laptops. I’m Amy Goodman, in exile from the embattled studios of WBAI, from the studios of the banned and the fired, the studios of our listeners. Thanks for listening.

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