The colorful Wheels of Justice bus, filled with bio-diesel fuel, drove through the West Valley on Saturday in a coast-to-coast demonstration against the Iraq war.
Painted on the bus were quotes such as “Non-Violence or Non-existence,” and “Occupation: the roadmap to nowhere. Justice: the roadmap to peace.”
The bus parked around 8 a.m. at 99th Ave. and Bell Road in Sun City for its second destination among many scheduled stops on its seventh annual tour of the nation. The curbside protest featured members of Grandmothers for Peace International and other anti-war advocates, including Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, a half-Jewish, half-Iraqi activist.
Wasfi said the mission of Wheels of Justice is to “spread the message of eyewitness accounts of living under occupation,” with the intent to retrieve all troops, provide care for them and the end occupation of Iraq.
“I learned about fighting for justice from both of my parents,” said Wasfi, who spent part of her childhood in Iraq. “I go out and speak. I’m on the bus so that I can give a voice to my family (in Iraq) who has no voice.”
Members of Grandmothers for Peace International, founded in 1981 by a Sacramento grandmother, stood by the sidewalk and waved “Honk 4 Peace” signs and received responses from drivers. The organization protested nuclear weaponry during the Cold War and continues to campaign for peace during the war in Iraq.
“In most cultures around the world, grandmothers are revered as the ‘keepers of the peace.’ We are inspired and motivated by that fact, but realize that in today’s dangerous world we can no longer keep or promote peace by sitting in our rocking chairs!” says their Web site, www.grandmothersforpeace.org.
David Johnson, 26, of Denver, an activist and artist on the Wheels of Justice tour, creates murals and paintings that seek to depict his beliefs that human rights are being stripped from citizens of occupied countries.
“We represent nonviolence,” Johnson said. “The problem is that being for nonviolence means being against the causes for violence, too.”
Wasfi said many factors have led to violence in Iraq.
“There are certainly criminal gangs who have emerged when there is no security,” she said. “The resistance itself is targeting the occupation. There are civilian casualties when the occupation gets targeted. But by far, the majority of the violence has come on the backs of the occupiers.”
According to Wasfi, statements by Gen. David Petraeus and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., claiming that the troops were tightening security in Iraq are inaccurate.
“People lack electricity, they lack access to potable water, and first and foremost, they lack security, and law and order,” she said.
As to Petraeus’s recent report that claims around 5,700 troops would return from Iraq by the end of next year, Wasfi remains unconvinced.
“I think this is more just a kind of rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic,” she said. “It’s not going to change the outcome. They’re buying time. We waited all summer for this big report, and this really means nothing.”