Posted by on July 14th, 2006

"A Felon for Peace"
Ann Wright being arrested on September 26th in front of the White House along with 400 peace activists.

By Ann Wright

I'm on Day 10 of my fast to Bring Troops Home Now. I never thought I could deprive my body of solid food for more than one or two days, but a week and one-half later, my body is not signaling my mind that it needs food. Of course, like most Americans, I had quite a few extra pounds I was carrying around, and right before the fast I was pigging out.

But it's not the pounds that are important, but rather the simple act of not engaging in our current national sport, eating, instead using the time that would be spent three or four times a day in that act in another more useful act.

Not eating frees up a lot of time. You don't spend much time in the grocery store, except for buying juices and health supplements. No time for food preparation. Time with friends is not spent in eating, but in talking and discussing critical issues of our time, such how to put more pressure on the Bush administration and the US Congress to end the war in Iraq to save tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and thousands of American and coalition lives, how to have fair trials for those in Guantanamo and administration secret prisons throughout the world, how to restore civil liberties while maintaining national security and how to restore domestic programs reduced or closed by diversion of funds to administration corporations in the war on Iraq. That's a lot to chew on, I would say!

Other than a small decrease in energy, I feel just fine. I don't get hunger pains and my stomach doesn't rumble anymore. Around mealtimes, I still have the habit of thinking I should be stopping to eat, which brings a smile when I remember that I don't need much time for that--just a sip of water or juice and I'm finished!

We now have over 3900 people who have signed up for the fast. There are fasts going on in virtually every city in America. Fasters are in ten other countries. Some are fasting for one day, some for one day a week, some for two weeks and some have signed on to fast until the war in Iraq ends. The length of the fast really does not matter. What matters is that an individual has made the decision that she/he will focus energy on an issue that is critical for the destiny of America-ending the war on Iraq.

This summer we will have fasters at the Veterans for Peace Conference in Seattle August 9-13, fasters at Camp Casey August 16-Sept 2 and fasters at Camp Democracy in Washington, DC September 5-20. Fasters will be in Washington, DC for September 21 and the following week for the week of Civil Disobedience.

The commitment and dedication of fasters to an issue is a time honored tradition. Governments and administrations have altered policies due to fasters. In talking with veteran fasters Dick Gregory who fasted over 2 years during the Vietnam War and Diane Wilson who has fasted for environmental issues in Texas, fasting requires patience, tolerance, and understanding of the psychological dimensions of physical actions and their long-term effect on others. In the beginning, many of those not on the fast, think the fasters are crazy and stupid.

On July 25 in Lafayette Park in front of the White House Codepink Women for Peace, and members of Gold star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and various Washington, DC anti-war groups will have an International fasting day. We will be joined by a woman member of the Canadian Parliament.

While in Washington, we are staying busy while fasting. One group of fasters stays at Lafayette Park in front of the White House to be a visible presence to President Bush and his administration. We talk with hundreds of passers-by about the war.

Each day a group goes to Congress to talk with members of Congress and their staff. We attend (and sometimes let our views be known-and are arrested) in Congressional committee hearings. We may have on orange Guantanamo suits to remind the Congress of lives affected by administration policies on torture and unfair proceedings. I ended up being arrested for speaking my mind to the Senate Judiciary committee during the confirmation hearing for William Haynes, an architect of the Bush Administration's torture policy, for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. (See here for more)

In honor of another faster, Mitch Snyder, who fasted and chained himself to the White House fence to gain a shelter for the homeless in Washington, we are working with Andy Shallal of the great new activist meeting place Busboys & Poets and with a local homeless advocate, to get better awareness of the terrible conditions now in the Mitch Snyder homeless shelter in Washington. We will have a press conference at the shelter on Friday afternoon and then give ice cream to the homeless in an "I Scream for Justice" action.

At the end of each day we all meet back at Lafayette Park for a discussion of the day's events and to plan for the next day. Generally we have a speaker from the DC area who provides us with information on an important topic. We have had speak a law professor from UCLA talk about the history of civil disobedience, an environmental activist speak about the plight of indigenous people's who occupy land on which the remaining resources of the world rest (using the example of Ecuador) and an Iraqi citizen's perspective on the occupation and on the Iraq 28 point peace plan that has gotten virtually no publicity in the U.S.

See the Codepink-DC calendar for daily events in front of the White House and come join us!

Hoorah for all the Codepink groups and individuals all over the country who are fasting for peace! Who would have believed we could do it? Only us!!!! Keep up the great work!

Bring the Troops Home Now!

Ann Wright
29 year US Army Colonel and US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war