A delegation of women from Iraq told stories last night in Washington, D.C., unlike anything we've ever heard about this war from the media in the United States. And the media was not there, so I'm going to tell you what they said.
The event was held at Busboys and Poets, the restaurant that serves as the gathering place for all social justice groups in Washington. The restaurant's owner is Andy Shallal, an Iraqi American and an active opponent of the war. Shallal spoke briefly, and then Gael Murphy of CODE PINK introduced six women.
Elaine Johnson is an African American woman from South Carolina who lost her son in the war. She said:
"When I met George Bush, five or six days after my son was killed, I promised him one thing, that he will forever see my face .[drowned out by applause]
"I don't understand why Bush is still in office. But as long as Elaine is out here and I got y'all backing me, we gonna get him!"
From left: Elaine Johnson, Eman Ahmad Khamas, Entisar Mohammad Ariabi, Faiza Al-Araji, Souad Al-Jazairy, Nadje Al-Ali.
Eman Ahmad Khamas is a human rights advocate who has documented abuses by the U.S. military in Iraq. She is a member of Women's Will, and is married with two daughters. She said:
"Hundreds of Iraqi mothers and wives are, like you, waiting for a knock on the door
"This occupation has destroyed Iraq. Americans don't know that tens of thousands of Iraqis are in prisons. Americans don't know how many have been killed. Lancet reported 100,000 in 2004, not counting Falluja. Now it is something like double this number.
"Hundreds of thousands of families must search for men who are missing, and they are left with nothing to support themselves.
"Many people do not know about the bombing of cities. Bush said the war ended on May 1, 2003. That's not true. Many Iraqi cities have been bombed severely. And families are buried in the rubble.
"'Get the troops back home' is not enough. Yes, the occupation has to end immediately, but those responsible for these crimes have to be held responsible." [huge applause]