Deported from Pak, American activist arrested in Washington

Washington, Dec 8: One of the two US human rights activists deported from Pakistan has been arrested soon after arrival here.

Tighe Barry was detained for protesting at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on US assistance to Pakistan. Barry has been asked to return for a court hearing on December 27.

On Friday, Barry and Medea Benjamin, who went to Pakistan to support the pro-democracy movement, protested outside the State Department, urging the Bush Administration to discontinue its support to the Musharraf regime.

The two flew directly from Pakistan to Washington to attend this hearing. They had asked for the opportunity to testify “about their firsthand experience with the heroism of Pakistan’s civil society and the brutality of the government, but were told that the witnesses had already been selected, ” the Dawn quoted Benjamin, a saying.

Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs was first one to testify.

When Boucher described the emergency as a mere “bump in the road, ” Barry stood up in protest, saying that Boucher’s testimony was ‘full of lies. ’

“Musharraf has beaten lawyers and students, destroyed the judiciary, and censored the press, ” he shouted.

“The US must freeze all funding to this military government until emergency rule is lifted, the independent judiciary is reinstated, the censorship of the media is lifted, and all judges, lawyers, students and human rights defenders are released, ” he said.

Committee’s chairman Senator Robert Menendez asked security to remove Barry. He was pulled out of the room, handcuffed and put in a police van.

A dozen activists of CODEPINK also backed them in their protest.

Code Pink: Women for Peace is a feminist anti-war group that started in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. It seeks “positive social change through creative protest, non-violent direct action, and community involvement. ”

The name "Code Pink" itself is a play on the Bush Administration's Department of Homeland Security's colour-coded alert system

“We are very upset that the US Government continues to give President Pervez Musharraf 100 million dollars a month, ” said Benjamin, adding, “We want this to be suspended until the Pakistani Government respects the rule of law. ”

“We were kidnapped, hijacked and terrorised in Pakistan. Our only crime: supporting the pro-democracy movement. We were not accused of anything else, ” she added.

CODEPINK is planning to demonstrate outside the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. (ANI)