ARLINGTON, VA - Seven peace activists were arrested this morning as they attempted to meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

The peace activists are associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), and their visit followed a letter to Gates demanding all military forces be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that bombings of Pakistan immediately cease. The committed activists from New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and the District of Columbia were arrested by Pentagon Police after they strenuously requested to meet with Gates.

"We wish to petition our government for a redress of grievances," said Michelle Grise, coordinator of NCNR. "Our grievance is that our government continues to engage in clear violations of international law by aggressively and immorally waging wars on countries which pose no immediate threat to our nation."

Grise was arrested along with six other activists, including 78 year-old Eve Tetaz. A retired D.C. public schoolteacher, Tetaz is a veteran peace activist and faces potential jail time for her protests.

"We are here to demand that these illegal and immoral wars cease, and that our government instead seek peace and justice," Tetaz said. "We must remind Secretary Gates that all life is sacred."

Those arrested included: Manijeh Saba, Eve Tetaz, Michelle Grise, Ellen Barfield, Pete Perry, Steve Mihalis, and Max Obuszewski.

The action took place on St. Patrick's Day, and the activists remembered Peter DeMott, one of the four activists who were arrested for entering a military recruiting station on March 17, 2003, two days before Shock and Awe. DeMott and the three others poured their blood, and recited liturgy in order to show their opposition to the Iraq War. The violent occupation of Iraq begins its seventh year this week.

Other anti-war actions this week in Washington include nonviolent direct action by the college-aged group, Our Spring Break, on Thursday, and a large march to the Pentagon on Saturday.

Below you will find the letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

    Saturday March 7, 2009

    Office of the Secretary of Defense
    Washington, DC 20001

    Dear Secretary Gates,

    I am writing as a representative of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We are a group of citizens dedicated to working for an end to the illegal war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the illegal bombing, since July of 2008, of Pakistan. These actions are causing incredible human suffering, growing distrust of the United States around the world, and are diverting our resources which could be better used to ease human suffering. We follow the principles of Gandhi, King, Day and others, working nonviolently for a peaceful world.

    We would like to meet with you to discuss this situation. As members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, we adhere to the Nuremberg protocols. These principles, established during the trials of Nazi war criminals, call on people of conscience to challenge their government when it is engaged in criminal activity. Not only do we have the responsibility to meet with you, but you have a responsibility and duty to follow the laws and uphold the constitution as you swore when you took your oath of office.

    On March 19 the seventh year of the Iraq war begins. The attack and invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law and an immoral chapter in U.S. history, staining our country's reputation, and it must end immediately. The war in Afghanistan and the bombing of Pakistan must also end immediately. Despite mounting U.S. military and civilian casualties, the people of the U.S. are now being asked to financially support an enlarged and prolonged occupation of Afghanistan, with no end in sight, and which we believe is immoral. It is urgent that we meet soon as innocent people are dying everyday.

    We would appreciate a response by March 14, so that NCNR members can arrange their travel plans to be at the meeting at a time appropriate to your schedule. If perchance, you fail to respond we will come to the Pentagon some time in the next few weeks to request a meeting.

    In peace,

    Joy First
    National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
    6014 Gateway Green
    Madison, WI 53716
    608 222-7581

    Michelle Grise'
    Reston, VA

    Peter J. Perry
    Washington, DC

    Malachy Kilbride
    Arlington, VA

    Ellen E Barfield
    Baltimore, MD

    Eve Tetaz
    Washington, DC

    Steve Mihalis
    Elyria, Ohio

    Manijeh Saba
    Somerset, New Jersey

    Max Obuszewski
    Baltimore, MD