by Matthew Hay Brown, updated
The two members of Code Pink who were arrested in Pakistan earlier today have been released by the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, the organization announced.
Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry, who arrived in Pakistan Nov. 25, have had their visas revoked and are to be removed from the country early Wednesday, the feminist antiwar group said in a release. The protests in which the activists have been involved are illegal under the emergency rule declared last month by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the organization said.
Code Pink has gained notoriety around Washington for disrupting congressional hearings and other Washington events. Medea and Barry were in Pakistan to learn about and support Pakistani civil society, the organization said.
The pair were leaving the Lahore Press Club when their car was stopped by six government agents, Code Pink said in a release. The driver was ordered out and the police confiscated the vehicle with the activists inside.
Earlier, the activists had attended a student rally at the press club in Pakistan’s second-largest city, the organization said. On leaving, they were followed by police on motorcycles. When they attempted to call reporters, the organization said, they found their cell phones were jammed.
They returned to the press club to call the U.S. embassy and make statements, the organization said.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when the Pakistani government – a government that is trying to portray itself to the West as democratic – tries to harass and deport U.S. human rights activists,” Benjamin said. “If they do this to us, who have the protection of being U.S. citizens, imagine what they do to their own citizens.”
“We will not be intimidated,” Barry said. “We will continue our activities here in support of Pakistanis struggling for democracy, and we call on the Pakistani government to stop harassing us and respect our rights.”
They were arrested on leaving the press club that second time, the organization said.
Since arriving in Pakistan, Benjamin and Barry have met with lawyers, students, judges, journalists and political leaders, the organization said.
They also held a 24-hour vigil outside the home of Aitzaz Ahsan, the lawyer who represented the suspended chief justice of the Pakistani supreme court in his case against the government, the organization said. Ahsan was arrested shortly after Musharraf declared the state of emergency.
Familiar around Washington with their provocative signs, flamboyant dress and guerrilla theater antics, Code Pink gained national attention in October when a member accosted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands,” shouted Desiree Ali-Fairooz, who waved her own hands, painted red, around Rice’s head.