Wearing her trademark pink attire, including a pink tiara with glittery peace signs, activist Leslie Angeline came to Gateway Community College Wednesday to talk about her 24-day hunger strike to get a meeting with U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.
She wants Lieberman, I-Conn., to stop "making blanket statements" for the United States to bomb Iran. "They have attacked no one. They love Americans," she said.
On June 10, Lieberman appeared on the CBS television show "Face the Nation" and said the U.S. should send airstrikes to terrorist training camps in Iran. According to the CBS Web site, Lieberman said: "I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me, that would include a strike ... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."
Angeline, a member of the Code Pink women's peace movement, learned of Lieberman's remarks soon after she returned from a two-week trip to Iran with Global Exchange, a humanitarian organization.
Before an audience of about 20, she presented a video on her travels through Iran's tree-lined streets. In one scene of the video, an Iranian asks her about her position on Iran's use of nuclear technology, to which Angeline replies: "It's in the treaty that Iranian people can use nuclear technology."
Another scene shows her asking a group of female students what message they would like her to take back to America. One quips: "Please be more careful when you choose your presidents from now on."
She stressed throughout her talk that Iranians understand that the will of the American people may differ from the will of the president, just as the will of Iranian people may differ from the will of their president. Angeline had to wear a head covering throughout her visit to Iran in deference to the country's strict Islamic requirements that forbid women to appear with their heads uncovered.
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Lieberman's office declined to comment on her visit other than to refer to his past statements on Iran.
Angeline's fast, which included water and clear juice, landed her in the hospital for dehydration before she could meet with the senator. She said she collapsed in his office on the 16th day of her fast. A week later the senator's staff called police and had her arrested and charged with "unlawful entry" when she entered his office to make an appointment. After Roll Call, the capitol's daily newspaper, published her photo and the incident the next day, Lieberman's staff arranged a five-minute meeting for Angeline on the condition that she come alone and with no press.
While she described it as a positive meeting that lasted 15 minutes, the senator's staff is still pressing charges, she said, and she faces up to 60 days in jail.
Local activists were irate to learn of her dilemma.
"I don't know what is more infuriating: Lieberman's double talk or his efforts to put you in jail," said Jerry Topitzer, 73, of New Haven, a member of Veterans for Peace.
Event organizers encouraged those who attended to phone and e-mail Lieberman's Chief of Staff Clarine Nardi Riddle, to ask that the charges be dropped.
The meeting was sponsored by the Greater New Haven Peace Council, Greater New Haven chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Peace Committee of the Unitarian Society of New Haven.
©New Haven Register 2007