Excerpt of mail received from Medea Benjamin
Dana Balicki 202 422 8624, In Pakistan 0308-204-2346
US Activists Arrested at Gunpoint by Pakistani Security Forces Forced to Leave the Country
U.S. human rights activists Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry were arrested in Lahore, Pakistan at 8:30pm on Wednesday, December 4 after attending a student rally at the Lahore Press Club. Upon leaving the Club in the company of several journalists, the car they were driving in was pulled off the road. Armed policemen surrounded their car, guns drawn. They forced the driver and journalists out and took the car with Benjamin and Barry inside. They took the two activists to the Race Course Police Station. Benjamin was roughed up by a woman police officer who was given orders to take away their cell phone.
Benjamin and Barry were never charged with anything and no reason was given for their brutal arrest. After four hours, a representative of the US Embassy appeared. The activists were allowed to leave in his custody, but are being forced to leave the country on Wednesday.
They call on their government to condemn their abusive treatment and deportation.
Benjamin and Barry are members of the U.S. human rights group Global Exchange and the women’s peace group CODEPINK. They arrived in Pakistan on November 25 to learn about and support Pakistani civil society. They have been meeting with lawyers, students, judges, journalists and political leaders. They also conducted a 24-hour vigil outside the home of prominent lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, who is under house arrest. Through these activities, they have received tremendous support and appreciation from the Pakistani people, including a Letter of Thanks from the Lahore High Court Bar Association extending “heartfelt gratitude for showing solidarity with the legal community of Pakistan.”
Benjamin and Barry will be arriving at New York’s JFK airport at 8am on Thursday and will be available for interviews.
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