Antiwar protestors begin fast

About 150 protesters sat in front of the White House on Monday to savor their last meal before starting a hunger strike that some said will continue until American troops return from Iraq.

The demonstration marking the Independence Day holiday was organized by CodePink, a women’s anti-war group that called on volunteers to abstain from eating for 24 hours from midnight on Monday.

Some protesters said their fast would continue beyond July 4th.

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, said she would drink only water throughout the summer, which she said she would spend outside President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“This war is a crime,” Sheehan told a crowd of clapping, cheering protesters. “We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government.”

The demonstrators crouched in the muggy evening next to a piece of pink plastic, spread down the road as a table and table-cloth in one. It was covered with wilted pink sunflowers and plates of vegetarian curry, white rice, and beans.

The demonstration aimed at highlighting the costs of the war, in which more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers and thousands of Iraqis have died, said CodePink spokeswoman Meredith Dearborn.

“We have to put our own lives on the line, and I’m willing to do that,” said activist Diane Wilson, who pledged to fast until the United States withdraws from Iraq.

Dearborn said 2,700 other activists nationwide, including actors Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, would work as a relay team passing the fast daily from one to another.

© 2006 Reuters