Monday 12 December 2005
Today was bitterly cold as I walked from the Charing Cross Tube Station to Parliament
Square in London. I was heading there with my traveling companion, Julie, to
go and visit Brian Haw after several exhausting but productive days in England
Brian is a peace activist and an exceptionally compassionate man who has been
camping out and vigiling in Parliament Square since June 2, 2001. He was so
enraged by the sanctions of the United Nations against Iraq that were supported
by the US and his government that he felt it was the only thing to do.
While I was vigiling and camping out in Crawford by George Bush's ranch because
of my outrage at the continued and unnecessary killing of Iraqis, Americans
and coalition troops, Brian sent me a letter. Part of it reads:
We stand beside you as family, and you can be sure of our
love no matter what. Now let's help the rest to understand, sort the mess in
the quickest possible time. I don't want another day, another child to come
home in a body bag, nor do you. Well, let's get through to the rest of our folks
pretty damn quick. Amen?!
Your brother Brian, in Jesus name xxx
This portion and the rest of the letter so touched me that I knew if I ever
visited England, I would have to go and see Brian. I was shocked when I found
out that Brian had been arrested early Saturday morning.
This past year, the British Parliament passed a very restrictive law called
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. The act restricts freedom of
speech and freedom of assembly around Parliament and No. 10 Downing Street.
Citizens who break this law can be arrested, and often are.
A young woman went in front of the Parliament building and read the names of
the 97 British Iraq war dead. She was arrested.
An old man started yelling at Jack Straw for his complicity in war crimes.
He was arrested.
Brian Haw, who has been camping in front of Parliament for over 4 years, was
arrested very early the other morning. Brian is allowed to be there because
the law was passed after his vigil started, but he was arrested for encouraging
"new people" to join his vigil. These new people, naturally, agree
that the war is a tragic mistake and that our troops need to come home.
These prohibitions and many more on freedom of speech and dissent seem eerily
familiar to me. I have been hauled in twice for exercising my First Amendment
freedoms in America. I have tried to petition my government on dozens of occasions
to redress the wrong that George Bush and the other neocon monsters have inflicted
on the world and my family. I have spent a lot of money, sacrificed so much,
and have traveled far and wide to do so. No one in the government is listening.
No one pays any attention.
I was speaking to a large crowd of hundreds of peace activists in London at
an International Peace Conference, and I challenged them to take back the freedoms
that our governments are taking away from us. Just as thousands of people traveled
from all over the world to join us at Camp Casey over the summer, I wondered
why hundreds of people didn't go to Parliament and scream out the names of the
slaughtered British war heroes after the young woman was arrested for doing
the same. Parliament's complicity and support of the war crimes in Iraq have
contributed to the killing of the troops and innocent Iraqis. The MPs and Tony
Blair should be faced with their acts of murder on a daily basis.
Why, when Brian was arrested the other day, didn't hundreds of people go down
to Parliament Square and pitch their tents alongside Brian's?
Why do we as Americans sit complacently by and watch our government use chemical
weapons in Iraq? George Bush says that Saddam Hussein is "a bad man"
because he used chemical weapons against his own people. What does that make
George Bush and the leader of the War Department? I think that makes them bad
men. Why do we allow it to continue?
Why do we as Americans turn the channel when we see that our government is
transporting alleged criminals and torturing them in European airspace?
Why do we turn our backs on the innocent children who are killed every day
in the name of liberating a people and spreading "freedom and democracy?"
Why do we let the war criminals rape and pillage our treasury and rob precious
human treasure from our communities and families?
Brian Haw, who is a father of 7, left the comfort zone of his home and family
to save the children of the world. He states his reasons so eloquently on his
I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face
again knowing that I've done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq
and other countries who are dying because of my government's unjust, amoral,
fear- and money-driven policies. These children and people of other countries
are every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children.
I was violently ripped out of my comfort zone on April 4, 2004, when Casey
was killed in Iraq. Even if I weren't constantly traveling and demonstrating
against the immoral occupation of Iraq, I will never be comfortable again. I
will live the rest of my life with a part of my heart and soul missing. I have
had my comfort cruelly amputated, as so many soldiers have had limbs ripped
off by IEDs.
Brian showed me pictures of babies who are affected by depleted uranium sickness
in Iraq. He showed me pictures of morbidly ill Iraqi children who couldn't or
can't get medicine because of the prior inhumane sanctions and now the devastating
occupation. Even as the occupational authority in Iraq can live in relative
security in the Green Zone in Baghdad, the people of Iraq have no comfort zones.
They are unrecorded, unreported and marginalized as sub-human. What we as citizens
of humanity are allowing our governments to do is monstrous and heartless.
So we who care about our freedom and democracy, and who care about our governments
perpetrating crimes against humanity, have to take action. We have to do as
Henry David Thoreau said, "vote with our whole ticket."
If you do nothing for peace and justice in the world, start doing something.
If you are doing something, do more. Our survival on this planet demands immediate
Now is the time to leave our comfort zones and make a difference.
If you don't know what to do, contact me at CampCaseyMom@yahoo.com.
I will give you some ideas.
Go to Original
'Peace Mom' Sheehan in New Play by Nobel Winner
Sunday 11 December 2005
London - U.S. peace activist Cindy Sheehan, who won wide attention with a vigil
outside President George W. Bush's ranch in the name of her soldier son killed
in Iraq, is the subject of a new play by Nobel laureate Dario Fo.
"Peace Mom" received its world premiere in London on Saturday night, starring
British actress Frances de la Tour, with both Sheehan and Italian dramatist
Fo in the audience.
The one-woman show is based on extracts from Sheehan's letters to Bush and
other writings. De la Tour delivered the monologues beneath large pictures of
Sheehan's son Casey and a tank in the Iraqi desert in front of a plume of fire.
"Frances did such an amazing job of conveying my feelings of anger and betrayal,"
a tearful Sheehan said after the play.
She said she hoped the play would help "put a human face" on the war.
Sheehan, from Vacaville, California, has become one of the best-known figures
calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq since she protested for several
weeks outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in August.
Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan over the death of her son in 2004
but will not pull out U.S. forces. Some of his supporters have gone further,
accusing her of being an advocate of surrender in the face of terrorism.
The play was rushed into production to conclude a day-long conference of activists
opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, with de la Tour reading some passages from
Fo, the leftist playwright who won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature, said
his wife and artistic partner Franca Rame would star in a longer final version
of the play in Italy.