News Release

Al-Maliki’s Visit: Protest and Analysis

MEDEA BENJAMIN
Benjamin is cofounder of CodePink, a women’s peace group, and Global Exchange. She stood up and spoke as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki addressed a joint session of Congress today.

CodePink said in a statement released this afternoon that Benjamin is on her 23rd day of a long-term fast for peace called the Troops Home FAST, which has been based in front of the White House. Fasters are available for interviews.

During a segment of his speech in which al-Maliki said that Iraqis’ ink-stained fingers evidenced their desire for democracy, Benjamin stood up in the House gallery and shouted, “Iraqis want the troops to leave, bring them home now! Listen to the Iraqis!” Benjamin repeated the statement several times before she was forcefully lifted from her seat, handcuffed and escorted out by Capitol police.
More Information

RAED JARRAR
Currently in Washington, D.C., Jarrar is the director for the Iraq Project of Global Exchange. He said today: “The rhetoric surrounding al-Maliki’s speech was that the U.S. government is backing democracy in Iraq. But when he articulates views widely held by Iraqis, he is attacked by elements of the U.S. government.

“This week, the most notable example was al-Maliki saying that Israel was the aggressor in Lebanon, a view held by the vast majority of Iraqis, and he was attacked for this.”

Jarrar added: “Last month, when he proposed a comprehensive 28-point package for Iraqi reconciliation and an end to violence, the plan was warmly received by different Iraqi political, religious and even insurgent leaders. But the U.S. Embassy turned that 28-point package into a weak 24-point plan that was rejected by everyone. The four dropped demands were: establishing a timetable for pulling out the occupation troops, amnesty for anyone who has not killed civilians, compensation for civilian victims and an immediate halt of all raids on homes and cities without Iraqi court orders.

“Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Adviser, recently wrote: ‘While Iraq is trying to gain its independence from the United States and the coalition, in terms of taking greater responsibility for its actions, particularly in terms of security, there are still some influential foreign figures trying to spoon-feed our government and take a very proactive role in many key decisions.'”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167