|Formation||November 17, 2002|
|Purpose||Anti-war, social justice|
|Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin|
Code Pink: Women for Peace (often stylized as CODEPINK) is an internationally active left-wing anti-war 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on issues such as drone strikes, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Palestinian statehood, the Iran nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia, and Women Cross DMZ.
With members wearing the group's signature pink color, Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and other actions in order to promote its goals. The organization describes itself as female-initiated, although it encourages men to participate in its activities.
Code Pink was founded on November 17, 2002, by a group of American anti-war activists, including Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin in the lead-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, which the organization opposed. The group's name is a play on the United States Department of Homeland Security's color-coded alert system in which, for example, Code Orange and Code Red signify the highest levels of danger. Code Pink's founding statement calls for: 93
Women around the world to rise up and oppose the war in Iraq. We call on mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, on workers, students, teachers, healers, artists, writers, singers, poets and every ordinary outraged woman willing to be outrageous for peace. Women have been the guardians of life -- not because we are better or purer or more innately nurturing than men, but because the men have busied themselves making war.
In February 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, Code Pink organized its first trip to the country, and subsequently led five delegations there. These delegations included parents who had lost their children in Iraq, as well as parents of active soldiers. Additionally, they brought six Iraqi women on a tour of the United States, and published a report about how the U.S. occupation affected the status of Iraqi women.
On its website, Code Pink lists allegations of U.S. war crimes, and states that thousands of civilians were killed in Fallujah in 2004 due to the actions of the U.S. military. Along with other groups, they gave over $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid to refugees of Fallujah in 2004.
Political positions and activism
The group opposed the United States invasion of Iraq.: 93
In early 2003, members of Code Pink protested what they called the "naked aggression" of U.S. President George W. Bush by spelling out the word "PEACE" using their naked bodies at demonstrations in California and New York.: 89
Code Pink participated in vigils at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. to shed light on the plight of injured soldiers. Code Pink said that the purpose of the vigils was to highlight the lack of care for veterans and that the vigils have helped achieve improvements in that care.
In the summer of 2009, Code Pink began their "Ground the Drones" campaign. This campaign was a response to the Obama administration's continued and increased use of unmanned drones in the "war on terror," specifically in regions surrounding Pakistan and Afghanistan. Code Pink said that many of the drone strikes intended to target terrorist leaders and strongholds often miss their targets, causing the unnecessary deaths of innocent civilians.
"Ground the Drones" was fashioned as a form of non-violent, civil disobedience, similar to protests earlier that spring, by groups such as Voices for Creative Non Violence. Code Pink targeted Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, claiming it was the "epicenter" for controlling drone activity. The goal of the protest was "halting unmanned aircraft strikes controlled via satellite links from Creech and other bases." The group continued protesting at Creech AFB through November and December 2009. Code Pink returned to Creech AFB in October 2011, along with other protest groups, to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan. Protesters dubbed it the "largest anti-war demonstration ever at Creech Air Force Base.
Code Pink members attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in 2015 and called for Henry Kissinger's arrest for war crimes. John McCain, who was chairing the hearing, called for the Sergeant at Arms and the Capital Hill Police to escort Code Pink out of the building and called after them "Get out of here you lowlife scum!"
Code Pink member Desiree Fairooz was arrested for laughing after a description of Senator Jeff Sessions by Alabama U.S. Senator Richard Shelby of the nominee as having a history of his "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented," during the January 2017 confirmation hearing as United States Attorney General. After she had been convicted at trial, that verdict was reversed by the chief District Court Judge Robert Morin. The judge said Fairooz should not have been tried for laughing, only for speaking out as she was being removed, and called a mistrial. Instead of dismissing the case, Morin set her retrial for September. Fairooz faced up to a year in prison and $2,000 in fines for disruptive and disorderly conduct and obstructing and impeding passage on US Capitol grounds. On November 6, 2017, District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu filed a notice of nolle prosequi in the case against Desiree Fairooz. Upon the decision, Code Pink released a statement calling the 3 trials a waste of time and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, adding, "These sentences are designed to discourage dissent and prevent activists from engaging in the daily protests that are taking place during a tumultuous time."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Code Pink campaigned in favor of the United States suspending its imposition of sanctions in order to alleviate the pandemic's impact on the populations of sanctioned countries.
On World Press Freedom Day 2023, members of Code Pink interrupted a talk between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius to call for the release of Julian Assange.
In 2006, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange, said that it was a myth that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had limited freedom of speech and eroded civil rights in Venezuela. In May 2007, Benjamin appeared as a guest on talk-show host Tucker Carlson's show, which was then part of MSNBC's schedule. Carlson criticized Benjamin for her statement and asked her: "Do you want to revise that given the news that Hugo Chávez has closed the last nationally broadcast opposition television station for criticizing him?" Benjamin replied that Chávez had not renewed the license of RCTV because the station "participated in a coup against a democratically elected government, his [Chavez's] government." Benjamin also said "Peru recently did not renew a license. Uruguay didn't renew a license. Why do you hold Venezuela to a different standard?"
Carlson responded that a 360-page Venezuelan government-published book accused RCTV of showing lack of respect for authorities and institutions. Carlson asked Benjamin, "I would think, as a self-described liberal, you would stand up for the right of people to 'challenge authorities and institutions.' And yet you are apologizing for the squelching of minority views. Why could that be?" Benjamin replied, "They [RCTV] falsified information. They got people out on the street. They falsified footage that showed pro-Chavez supporters killing people, which did not happen. They refuse to cover any of the pro-Chavez demonstrations."
During the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, the U.S. broke relations with the Nicolás Maduro administration and recognized Juan Guaidó as the acting president of Venezuela. On 10 April 2019, after the Maduro administration retired its diplomats from the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, US activists from Code Pink received keycards from the diplomats, moved into the building, and secured all entrances with chains and locks as Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó's ambassador appointed to the US, tried to gain access to the building. The US government considered the embassy as property of Guaidó's interim government. Clashes in May 2019 between US activists and pro-Guaidó Venezuelan demonstrators resulted in arrests on both sides. US authorities issued an eviction notice on the group on May 14. The last four activists were removed from the embassy by agents from the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and the US Secret Service on May 16.[better source needed]
At the end of July 2019, some members of Code Pink that occupied the embassy visited Venezuela during the Foro de São Paulo. Maduro posed for pictures with the group and rewarded them with gifts, including a book on Simón Bolívar and a replica of Bolivar's sword.
In October 2022 Code Pink collected signatures for a petition asking the US Department of Justice to drop the charges against Colombian businessman Alex Saab. Saab was extradited to the U.S. from Cape Verde in 2020, charged by the U.S. Justice Department with money laundering and pushing over $350 million through U.S. accounts. Code Pink described Saab as a political prisoner, who worked as a diplomat as part of Venezuela’s Gran Misión Vivienda and CLAP food box distribution network.
Israel and Palestine
Code Pink has organized more than seven delegations to Gaza, some of them at the invitation of the United Nations.
Prior to the Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink endorsed the “Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid", which calls for comprehensive boycott of Israel.[better source needed] During the march, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin coordinated the organization's stay with Hamas. Members resided in the Commodore, a Hamas-owned hotel in Gaza City. Hamas security officials accompanied activists as they visited Palestinian homes and Gaza-based NGOs. Prior to the march, Benjamin said the Hamas government had "pledged to ensure our safety." However, Code Pink leaders claimed Hamas had hijacked the initiative from the onset after imposing prohibitions on the organization's movements around Gaza. Amira Hass referred to the event as "an opportunity for Hamas cabinet ministers to get decent media coverage in the company of Western demonstrators."
Code Pink helped to organize an International Women's Day Delegation to Gaza in March 2014. Upon arrival at the Cairo airport on March 3, 2014, Benjamin was detained and assaulted by Egyptian authorities. She was deported to Turkey after the authorities had dislocated her shoulder. Other members of the international delegation, including American, French, Belgian, and British citizens, who arrived the next day were also deported. Some members made it into Cairo, although no one from the delegation made it to Gaza.
Code Pink opposed Israel's operation in Gaza following the Hamas attacks of October 7. It repeatedly disrupted Secretary of State Antony Blinken's October 31, 2023 testimony to a Senate hearing on Israel aid from the United States, with protesters calling for a ceasefire during the hearing. Several peace activists were arrested, including David Barrows and retired colonel and diplomat, Ann Wright.
In March 2019, while visiting Iran, Code Pink representatives voiced support at a press conference held by Fars News for Iran's right to use missile defense systems, and met with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Following the January 2020 assassination of Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran's Quds Force, and of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces by a US drone attack at Baghdad airport, Code Pink together with a number of other civil society groups called for a "national day of action" in 30 large US cities to request the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Thousands marched in over 80 cities across the country to protest against a possible war against Iran.
Russian invasion of Ukraine
In 2022, at protests in Oakland and San Francisco, Code Pink criticized the United States for sending military arms to Ukraine after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In February 2023, Code Pink activists confronted United States President Joe Biden in a Washington D.C. restaurant, "call[ing] for Biden to seek peace and an end to the war rather than escalation before being asked to leave by the establishment's staff. During the Washington D.C. protest, Code Pink also called for Cuba to be removed from the United States state sponsors of terrorism list.
Writing in The Nation, Ukrainian Solidarity Network Co-Founder Bill Fletcher Jr. describes Code Pink's position as "ambivalent" stating that the organization has criticized the Russian invasion but not supported Ukrainian resistance.
On October 4, 2023, 11 protestors from Code Pink occupied the Dirksen Senate Office Building office of Senator Bernie Sanders. The protestors called for Ukrainian, Russian, and U.S. leadership to negotiate an end to the war. Code Pink's press release quoted a protestor's statement, "Yes, Bernie should condemn the Russian invasion, but he should also be calling for a negotiated end to this brutal war". Capitol police arrested the 11 protestors based on a provision of the District of Columbia Code that prohibits crowding, obstructing or incommoding.
Jodie Evans was once critical of China's authoritarian government, making statements like: "We demand China stop brutal repression of their women’s human rights defenders". In 2017, Evans married Neville Roy Singham. Since 2017, 25% of Code Pink's funding has come from groups connected to Singham. In August 2023, The New York Times wrote that Evans is now a strong supporter of China and regards it as a defender of the oppressed and a model for economic growth without slavery or war.:
In 2020, Code Pink started its "China Is Not Our Enemy" campaign. In February 2023, two Code Pink protesters attempted to disrupt the inaugural hearing of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, by holding up a sign stating, “China is not our enemy,” and shouting. According to Code Pink's statement on the protest, “Our common enemy is the climate crisis–we need cooperation, not competition, to address climate change and the challenges we face together as humanity.” Michael Rubin, writing for the Washington Examiner, has stated that Code Pink has amplified Chinese government propaganda denying the Uyghur genocide. In June 2023, Code Pink activists visited the offices of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party where, according to an aide of House member Seth Moulton, they denied accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang and suggested Moulton visit Xinjiang.
Following the August 2023 New York Times report, US senator Marco Rubio asked the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into Code Pink and other entities related to Singham for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Academic Rachel V. Kutz-Flamenbaum describes Code Pink as a group whose protest actions "imply that women's traditional roles as mothers and caregivers give women the moral authority and moral obligation to fight against violence[.]": 90 According to Kutz-Flamenbaum, Code Pink draws attention to the differential impact of war on women, and challenges "gender norms by explicitly and implicitly critiquing the relationship between militarism and patriarchy.": 90
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Since 2017, about a quarter of Code Pink's donations — more than $1.4 million — have come from two groups linked to Mr. Singham, nonprofit records show. The first was one of the UPS store nonprofits. The second was a charity that Goldman Sachs offers as a conduit for clients' giving, and that Mr. Singham has used in the past.
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The protesters said sending in more weapons would only add fuel to the fire.
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Members of the anti-war group Code Pink rallied in front of the Ferry Building in San Francisco on Sunday calling for a cease-fire in Ukraine and criticizing the approach of the U.S. and other western nations. "NATO, it's threatening peace," said Cynthia Papermaster, a Bay Area coordinator for Code Pink: Women for Peace.
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- Gans, Jared (2023-03-01). "Protesters disrupt House China panel's first hearing". The Hill. Retrieved 2023-05-20.
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In June, Code Pink activists visited staff members on the House Select Committee on China unannounced. In the office of Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, activists denied evidence of forced labor in Xinjiang and said the congressman should visit and see how happy people were there, according to an aide.
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