Cindy Sheehan, who drew international attention when she camped outside President Bush's ranch to protest the Iraq war, was arrested Monday along with three other women during a demonstration demanding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The march to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations by about a dozen U.S. and Iraqi anti-war activists followed a news conference at U.N. headquarters, where Iraqi women described daily killings and ambulance bombings as part of the escalating violence that keeps women in their homes.
Women Say No to War, which helped organize the march, claimed Sheehan was physically assaulted by security officers during the arrests. Photos show officers dragging Sheehan, with her shirt yanked up. Police said the four women were arrested for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.
The women were trying to deliver a petition to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations with more than 60,000 signatures urging the "withdrawal of all troops and all foreign fighters from Iraq." When they arrived at the mission, they found the doors locked.
Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel and U.S. diplomat, said in a statement issued by the group that the U.S. Mission refused to send someone to meet with the women "whose lives and families have been shattered by this destructive and immoral war." The protesters refused to leave without delivering the petition, she said. At one point, witnesses said they sat down in front of the doors and interlocked their legs.
Richard Grenell, the spokesman for the U.S. Mission, said in response to Sheehan's arrest: "We invited her in to discuss her concerns with a U.S. Mission employee. She chose not to come in but to lay down in front of the building and block the entrance. It was clearly designed to be a media stunt, not aimed at rational discussion," Grenell said.
At the news conference, Sheehan said when her 24-year-old son — a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq — died in April 2004, "the morgues were filled with innocent men, women and children."
Entessa Mohammed, a pharmacist who works at a hospital in Baghdad, became tearful when recalling the deaths and injuries she said she has witnessed daily.
She estimated that 1,600 Iraqis are killed in Baghdad every month, with a greater number injured. "Thanks for the liberation from Saddam" Hussein, Mohammed said, addressing the Bush administration, "now please go out."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned to meet with delegations of Iraqi and Afghan women in Washington on Wednesday, which is International Women's Day, to honor their achievements in politics.
The Women Say No to War activists, who plan to be in Washington on Wednesday to meet with members of Congress, said they were denied requests to meet with Rice or other "relevant" State Department officials.