Activist's Begin their Fast in D.C.
This was a Press Release I received today from Mike Ferner.
I am publishing it as requested for submittal on NowPublic.com.
Winter of Our Discontent:
34-day Fast February 15 to March 20 at U.S. Capitol to End the Iraq War
Chicago – A 34 day, liquids-only fast to end the war against and
occupation of Iraq will begin in Washington, D.C. on February 15.
Fast participants will consume only water or juice, and will maintain a
daily vigil at the U.S. Capitol, lobby members of Congress and conduct
sit-ins at key Congressional offices. The start and end dates of
the fast commemorate the third anniversary of worldwide protests
against the invasion of Iraq, and the date of the U.S. invasion.
The activities are part of growing grassroots opposition to economic
and military warfare against Iraq.
Five peace activists will conduct the 34-day fast in Washington as part
of a series of activities called the “Winter of Our Discontent”
focusing on ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Citing the
destruction caused by 15 years of economic and military warfare waged
against that country, they seek a commitment from the U.S. to provide
full funding for the reconstruction of Iraq. These objectives
stand in sharp contrast to the agenda of the Bush Administration which
is seeking an additional $120 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan while announcing that it will seek no additional funds for
In addition, the Winter of Our Discontent seeks the unconditional
cancellation of the “odious debt” incurred by Saddam Hussein’s regime
and of the war reparations charges imposed against Iraq by the United
Nations for Hussein’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait; respect for
human rights of Iraqis as guaranteed by international law; and no
internationally forced privatization of Iraq’s oil wealth and resources.
The Winter of Our Discontent is organized by Voices for Creative
Nonviolence. Members traveled to Iraq during the era of economic
sanctions to openly challenge U.S. law, and lived in Iraq prior to and
during the U.S. invasion in 2003.
The five people participating in the entire 34-day fast are Jeff Leys,
Cynthia Banas, Ed Kinane, Joel Gulledge and Mike Ferner. Kathy
Kelly, three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and other
members of Voices for Creative Nonviolence will participate in portions
of the fast in Washington, and around the country as she continues her
Bios for the five fasters:
Jeff Leys, 41, is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative
Nonviolence. He traveled to Iraq in February 2003 with Voices in
the Wilderness, a campaign of civil disobedience which existed to end
U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq. He returned to Iraq in
November 2003 with Christian Peacemaker Teams. Prior to joining
VCNV, Leys worked as a labor representative for SEIU District 1199 in
Wisconsin and for AFT in Kansas. Leys participated in a
Plowshares action in 1985, serving two years in prison for nonviolently
disarming a Navy transmitter system (since closed) in northern
Wisconsin which served an integral role in U.S. first strike nuclear
strategy. His work has also
included: advocacy for Native American treaty rights; issues of
homelessness; nuclear weapons; and U.S. involvement in Central America
in the 1980's.
Cynthia Banas, retired librarian and longtime UNICEF volunteer, lived
in Iraq for a total of 11 months between 2001 and 2003. A member of the
Iraq Peace Team whose goal was to prevent the invasion of Iraq and
report back to colleagues the situation on the ground, Banas lived in
Baghdad before, during and after the three-week Shock and Awe terror
bombing. She witnessed first hand the efforts of peace people who
came to Baghdad from countries world-wide to attempt to prevent the USA
attack upon Iraq. She witnessed first hand the invasion, the looting
and the ongoing cruel occupation and the suffering of the Iraqi people
and the beginning of the resistance during the autumn of 2003.
Ed Kinane formerly worked on Wall Street. In the 70s he taught high
school in Kenya (in a remote one-room Quaker school) and college
anthropology in Seattle. In the late 80s and early 90s Ed worked
with Peace Brigades International accompanying threatened human rights
workers – in Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti and Sri Lanka -- to help
protect them from death squads. Since the mid 90s Ed has been a
persistent critic of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas at Ft.
Benning, GA. For his nonviolent efforts against the SOA he has twice
gone to federal prison serving a total of 14 months. In 2003 he
spent five months in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness prior to,
during and after the U.S. invasion. Ed has long been active with
the Syracuse Peace Council. A long-time conscientious objector to
the gas-guzzling internal combustion engine, Ed avoids driving and has
never owned a car.
Mike Ferner has served as an independent member of the Toledo City
Council; organized for the public employees' union, AFSCME; and worked
as communications director for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee
(FLOC), and for POCLAD, the Program on Corporations, Law &
Democracy. He traveled twice to Iraq, with a Voices in the
Wilderness delegation just prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003, and in
2004 for two months as a freelance writer. His book about those
trips, Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq,
(Praeger Publishers) is due out in August, 2006. He served as a
Navy Hospital Corpsman during Vietnam, received an Honorable Discharge
as a conscientious objector, and is a member of Veterans For Peace.
Joel Gulledge, 26, grew up in Bruce, MS, and studies Sociology.
Over the years Joel has volunteered at homeless and battered women's
shelters, worked with the Southern Baptist Convention in a Boston
outreach program for youth and homeless, organized benefit concerts,
and is a regular volunteer with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center,
SUSTAIN, and Food Not Bombs. From December 2004 to January 2005,
Joel traveled the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the Memphis
Peace Team. He picked olives, planted olive trees in demolished groves,
confronted Israeli checkpoints, and hung out with ordinary
families. He then joined the Wheels of Justice speaking tour to
bring these stories of occupation, nonviolence and dignity in the face
of humiliation and violence back to the US. Joel is currently a
co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.