Ending the Crime of Torture

 Speaker: Beza

 
Beza is a professional physicist who was tortured in Ethiopia. He is a member of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) and will speak for the first time about his experience as a torture survivor. The mission of TASSC, the only organization founded by and for torture survivors, is to end the practice of torture wherever it occurs and to empower survivors, their families and communities wherever they are.
 
Please join TASSC in celebrating its 17th Annual June Survivors’ Week from June 25th to June 29th in D.C. focusing on the theme “Building Bridges Together”.  During the week TASSC will have different workshops, a human rights training, a Congressional visit, and a 12 hour vigil on June 28 from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Lafayette Park across from the White House. There will also be a hearing at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Survivors and prominent human rights experts will speak at the workshops and at the Tom Lantos Commission.
For more info please see: www.tassc.org
Please join us!
 
Date: Friday, June 6, 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.
Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20010 For more info contact Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649

 

Published in: on May 27, 2014 at 4:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat in D.C

Dear Friends,
gf-cross
From Wednesday evening to Good Friday, some 30 friends gathered in D.C. for the annual Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Jonah House communities. We were especially blessed to have with us students from Loras College from Iowa and members of the New Jerusalem community from Philadelphia. The theme of the retreat was: “Put Away the Sword.”
After community dinner on Wednesday we viewed the powerful riveting film: “Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives–The Environmental Footprint of War” produced by Alice and Lincoln Day. This was followed by a time of sharing and song.
On Holy Thursday morning Rosemary Thompson offered a compelling reflection concerning the connections between war, climate change and poverty and what our faith response should be, which was followed by very rich community sharing. At noon we held a public witness outside the Air & Space Museum. As hundreds of tourists looked on the Loras Students sang a beautiful version of “Let me be an instrument of peace.” Having been to the museum the day before, the students made special signs and banners calling people to pray and work for peace. The rest of the witness included reading our leaflet, Brian Barrett speaking about the sin and crime of killer drones and the community singing “Sacred the Land.” We then processed several blocks to the Department of Energy where we held a witness similar to the Air & Space Museum. Among the banners and signs we we carried and held at the DOE was one that said: “Department of Extinction.” During the vigil Paul Magno addressed the ongoing crime of the DOE’S  nuclear weapons program and spoke about the witness of the imprisoned Transform Now Plowshares. In the evening, Sr. Margaret McKenna from the New Jerusalem Community, led a moving Holy Thursday Service which focused on the Eucharist in the context of the Seder shel Pesach–the Paschal Meal.
On Good Friday, the community began with a public witness at the Pentagon. At 7:00 a.m. the community processed silently with banners and small crosses into the police designated protest zone, located near the Pentagon metro, as hundreds of Pentagon employees passed by and many police were on hand .Rosemary Thompson, Eve Tetaz and I went out onto the Pentagon sidewalk (where we are subject to arrest)  and held an adoration of the cross before a small cross with the inscription: “2014–Suffering Humanity.” We prayed: “We Adore You oh Christ and We Bless You,  For By Your Holy Cross You Have Redeemed the World.” The community witness continued with a huge banner that said: “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity” displayed on the grassy slope and a retreatant, dressed in a black robe representing a victim of militarism, standing on a crate with arms outstretched on a large cross. Our leaflet was 
read and a reflection about militarism and Jesus being nailed to the cross today, written by Leonardo Boff, were read aloud.  In between the readings there was silence and singing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” Halfway through the witness the three on  the sidewalk were surprisingly informed by police that they could remain there and would not be arrested. This is a rarity indeed. Last year, for a similar Good Friday witness, two people were  arrested. 
At noon-time retreatants held a “contemporary crucifixion” on Pennsylvania Ave.  directly in front of the White House as many tourists looked on. See below the reflections that were read for each of the ten crucified victims as
they, wearing black robes, took turns with arms outstretched on the cross. Our leaflet was also read and along with a reading of Jesus being crucified, by Leonardo Boff. The Loras students began and ended the witness with singing “let Me Be An Instrument of Peace.” We ended our witness and retreat by sharing a sign of peace.
Please see above excellent photos taken by Lin Romano of the Good Friday White House witness.
Let us pray for each other during these holy days, and for all those in our world who are experiencing at this very moment the passion and death of Jesus. And let us be transformed by the cross and resurrection of Jesus as we seek to practice resurrection and be living signs of hope for our world.
In peace and gratitude, Art
  
 
wh_victimsofwar

Script of Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth

  

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion and death of Jesus. Today, vast numbers of God’s global family experience a modern form of crucifixion as they are crucified to a cross of war, militarism, and economic exploitation. In the crucified people of our world we see the crucified face of Jesus. Today, we remember the victims who have been and continue to be crucified and deemed expendable, and call for an immediate end to their crucifixion. We also pray for an end to the desecration of our sacred earth.

crucified person #1-Iraq War Victim
For over twenty years the U.S. waged an unrelenting war against Iraq. We pray for the over 2 million Iraqis who have died since 1991–crucified to a cross of bombings, sanctions, invasion and occupation. We repent for destroying an entire society, traumatizing a generation of Iraqis and setting into motion a spiral of violence that continues to claim numerous lives. We pray for the countless millions injured and the over 4 million displaced. We call for all CIA personnel and security contractors to leave Iraq immediately and that the U.S. beg forgiveness from and make reparations to the Iraqi people.

 

crucified person #2–Afghanistan war victim
Since the U.S. began its criminal military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, thousands of Afghan civilians have suffered and died. We pray for all those Afghans who have been, and continue to be, crucified to a cross of ruthless U.S. military occupation. We pray and work for an immediate end to the immoral and illegal U.S. war in Afghanistan, for the withdrawl of all military and CIA personnel, and that the U.S. beg forgiveness from and make reparations to the people of Afghanistan.

 

crucified person #3–Drone bombing victim
We pray for all victims of U.S. drone strikes and call for an immediate end to the use of these immoral and illegal killer-drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. We call for a halt to the Obama Administration “kill lists” and that an apology and reparations be made to all victims’ families of drone strikes. We commit ourselves to abolishing these murderous Drones, our American death squads of the skies.

 

 

crucified person #4–Victim of Militarism and Nuclearism
We pray for all people–past and present–who have been, and continue to be, crucified to the cross of militarism and nuclearism. We pray and work for the abolition of nuclear weapons, nuclear technology   and all weapons, for an end to all forms of militarism and military intervention worldwide, and for the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on meeting human needs and serving the common good.

crucified person #5–Victim of economic exploitation

We remember all people who have been, and continue to be, sacrificed at the altar of greed, oppression and economic exploitation. We remember all people who have died early deaths in the U.S. and worldwide from dire poverty and malnutrition. We pray and work for an end to structures and policies which dominate, exploit and crucify people to a cross of dehumanizing poverty, debt and neglect. We commit to working for an end to corporate domination, the eradication of poverty, a fair redistribution of wealth and a just economic order.


crucified person #6–Torture Victim
(dressed as a GITMO prisoner)
Jesus was a torture victim who was condemned by religious authorities and executed by the Roman empire. We remember all torture victims, past and present, which have suffered and died from the effects of torture. We remember the over 100 prisoners who, since 2001, died at secret U.S. military black sites, as well as the nine men who died at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo. We remember the 154 detainees in Guantanamo, most of who have been cleared for release, including those who are now on a hunger-strike calling for an end to their brutal, unjust confinement. We pray and work for the abolition of torture worldwide, and for the immediate closing of Guantanamo, the SOA/WHINSEC and all military torture and training centers.

 

crucified person #7–Nonviolent revolutionary victim
We remember all those who have given their lives and who have sacrificed their freedom as they have struggled, without using violence, for justice in their countries. We especially think of those who participated in the Arab Spring to break their shackles of oppression. We hold in prayer the dead and wounded people of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. These nonviolent resisters marched, demonstrated, occupied the streets and squares in order to free themselves from police repression, censorship, unemployment, and violence and were met with violent attacks. We remember all of the people of these nations and repent for U.S. funding of any of the guns, bombs, and materials used to prop up their abusive dictators. May all that has been stolen from these sisters and brothers be restored.

crucified person #8–Imprisoned victim

We picture before us the imprisoned Jesus–arrested, tortured, stripped, crowned with thorns, mocked and crucified. We remember today imprisoned political prisoners and all who are held in gulags and prisons throughout the world. We remember and pray for:

– Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, whistle-blower and truth revealer of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, who is serving a 35 year prison sentence;

– Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier who is serving a life sentence;

–Yang Yoon-Mo, serving an 18 month sentence for protesting the construction of a new naval base on Jeju Island in Korea. We remember, too, many others who have been imprisoned trying to nonviolently stop the construction of this U.S. -backed base;

–Transform Now Plowshares prisoners Sr. Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Mike Walli who are serving 35-52 month prison sentences for their plowshares witness at the nuclear weapons complex at Oak Ridge, TN;

– the thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel;

– the over 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S., all those on death row, and all prisoners worldwide.

In the words of Jesus, let us “proclaim liberty to all captives,” and work to create a justice system that is rooted in the biblical mandate of love and restorative justice.

crucified person #9–Immigration Victim
Mindful that Jesus was born as a migrant and exiled as a refugee, we remember today those immigrants who have been crucified to a cross of exploitation and oppression. We  remember, too, those who have been driven from their homes and the hundreds who have died crossing the border in search of a better life. Loving God, help us to learn to love and welcome the immigrants in this land. Give us the courage to stand for justice for all immigrants instead of imprisoning them in dehumanizing detention facilities. Give us the courage to speak out and expose how our country’s policies of globalization and free trade are driving people to leave their countries and tearing families apart. Help us to take down the walls of division and fear that create physical walls of separation on our border. Teach us the words of love you would have us speak as we call for comprehensive immigration reform in this land.

 

10th Victim–Our Desecrated Earth
Creator God, we confess that the way we live today is desecrating the earth, changing the climate, the seas and the balance of life, and dispossessing the poor and future generations. Our environment and earth continues to be endangered by industrial pollution, toxic deadly chemicals, wasteful oil consumption, the Keystone XL pipeline, nuclear radiation and the effects of preparing for and waging war. According to Joseph Nevins, in an article published on June 14, 2010 by CommonDreams.org, GREENWASHING THE PENTAGON, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.” Today, on Jeju Island in Korea, a global biosphere reserve and world natural heritage site, explosive blasting of the unique Gureombi lava-rock formation continues for the construction of a new naval base that will serve as U.S. military outpost in the Asian Pacific region. Creator God, help us to stop destroying your creation. Empower us to safeguard all creation and choose life for all that is at risk.

Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ash Wednesday Review

Dear Friends,
About 30 people from various peace and faith communities in D.C. held an Ash Wednesday Prayer Service of Repentance and Conversion outside the White House. We were also joined by eight new friends from Loyola University in Chicago who spent a week at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker for their Alternative Break Immersion. The liturgy was sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. When we returned to the White House two days later for our weekly Friday peace vigil, ashes that we used to mark the street during the Ash Wednesday liturgy were still very visible.
ash-wed-white
Below is the leaflet that was read and passed out to tourists and portions of the liturgy that was offered. Please see photos taken by our friend Ted Majdosz.
http://photobyted.smugmug.com/BlessedAreThePeacemakersEvents/Ash-Wed/i-hnS77Zz

With great gratitude, Art  

 

Ash Wednesday Appeal for Repentance and Call for Peace and Justice

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for personal and societal repentance. This is a time for radical conversion, renewal and transformation. Living under the brutal occupation of the Roman empire, Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk.1:15) Living in the U.S. empire, which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” we need to heed Jesus’ call for repentance now more than ever.
 
We live in an empire that has its roots in the genocide and enslavement of native peoples and Africans. Today corporate, financial, political and military powers are waging a global war to acquire and control resources. The U.S. extends its unrelenting violence in Afghanistan, and has escalated its military intervention in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan through the use of killer Drones. “Kill Lists” have been secretly drawn up to assassinate anyone the U.S. government deems a threat, including its own citizens. Violence, economic exploitation and global warming claim countless lives daily. The victims cry out for justice. The earth groans in travail.
The purpose of this witness is to call for repentance and conversion of ourselves, our society and our churches to the Gospel way of justice, nonviolence and a reverence for all life and creation. As we stand here in front of the White House, we pray and call for:
– an end to all violence and that the sacredness of all life be upheld wherever it is threatened;
– an end to all racism, demonization and scapegoating;
– the abolition of war and an end to all U.S. military intervention;
– an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and advisers from Afghanistan;
–a public renunciation of the secret “Kill Lists” and an end to all U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere;
– U.S. reparations for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan;
– cancellation of an estimated $1 trillion that the U.S. will spend over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize its nuclear arsenal;
– the abolition of all guns, total disarmament of nuclear and conventional weapons, and the demilitarization of space;
– an immediate end to the construction of the new U.S. backed naval base being built on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve a U.S. military outpost to contain China;
– an end to the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza;
– an end to torture, accountability for those who ordered and carried out torture, and the closing of the Guantanamo military prison, along with other military torture training centers like the SOA/WHINSEC;
– a dismantling of the mass incarceration prison complex and an end to all detention camps in the U.S.;
– an end to AFRICOM and the U.S. militarization of Africa;
– repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act which has codified into law indefinite detention for suspected foreign and domestic terrorists and their supporters;
– the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good;
an end to corporate domination;
– the cancellation of all debts for poor countries;
– the eradication of poverty, a fair redistribution of wealth and a just economic order;
– universal health care for all;
– that every effort be made to stop global warming and reverse climate change;
– justice for all native peoples, African Americans, Hispanics and all immigrants;
– that the wall on the U.S. and Mexico border come down.
Let us seek during this holy season to be the change that we want to see in the world and recommit ourselves to help create the beloved community.
For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649.
From the Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance Outside the White House

Archbishop Oscar Romero on the meaning of Lent
“This Lent, which we observe amid blood and sorrow, ought to presage a transfiguration of our people, a resurrection of our nation. The church invites us to a modern form of penance, of fasting and prayer – perennial Christian practices, but adapted to the circumstances of each people.

“Lenten fasting is not the same thing in those lands where people eat well as is a Lent among our third-world peoples, undernourished as they are, living in a perpetual Lent, always fasting. For those who eat well, Lent is a call to austerity, a call to give away in order to share with those in need. But in poor lands, in homes where there is hunger, Lent should be observed in order to give to the sacrifice that is everyday life the meaning of the cross.


“But it should not be out of a mistaken sense of resignation. God does not want that. Rather, feeling in one’s flesh the consequences of sin and injustice, one is stimulated to work for social justice and a genuine love for the poor. Our Lent should awaken a sense of social justice.” 


 
Litany of Repentance and Conversion 
As we begin this Lenten Season we ask God’s forgiveness for our complicity in the violence now unleashed in our world and we repent of the violence in our own hearts.
Response: Deliver us O God
From the arrogance of power…Response: Deliver us O God
From the tryanny of greed

From the politics of hypocrisy

From the addiction of control

From the idolatry of national security

From the cancer of hatred

From the hystreia of nationalism

From the sin of racism

From the sin of sexism
From the sin of torture
From the sin of war
From the waste and preparation of war 
In humility we ask o God, hear our prayer.
(Adapted from CPT Litany of Resistance, by Jim Looney)
 

Response: Forgive us O God
For our hardness of the heart….Forgive us O God
For wasting our gifts

For wanting too much

For wounding the earth

For ignoring the poor

For trusting in weapons

For refusing to listen

For exporting arms

For desiring dominance

For lacking humility

For failing to risk

For failing to trust

For failing to act

For failing to hope

For failing to love

For failing to negotiate

For our arrogance

For our impatience

For our pride

For our silence

Response: Change our hearts O God
That we learn compassion….Change our hearts O God
That we embrace nonviolence

That we act in justice

That we live in hope

That we do your will

That we love our enemies

That we strive to be peacemakers
That we live simply
That we practice sharing

That we protect the earth

That we cherish all life

(Adapted from Pax Christi USA)
 
 Closing prayer From Bill Wylie Kellermann, Seasons of Faith and Conscience
 
“To keep Lent is to follow Jesus in the prayer of wilderness and garden…
To keep Lent is to confront the principalities and powers first of all in prayer. With Jesus we face the dark side of ourselves this is so susceptible to capture and control by the powers. If it happens that we keep vigil publicly at the gates of economic, military, political or religious authority, we do so confessionally, acknowledging the solidarity of sin…
To keep Lent is to discover and remember who in heaven’s name we are, as person and community. We pray against all confusers and confusions for our true identity and vocation. We know that means standing before the cross and making some choices…

The grace of this season is that Jesus suffers the choice with us. He’s been over the turf and is our brother exactly on that score, with us in the struggle of our hearts. Let the further grace be that we make our choice as disciples, in the mind and heart of Christ.”

Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Summaries of the Pre-Sentencing Statements Made by the Transform Now Plowshares

Summary Notes of Michael Walli’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • Stated that he was offended by the fact that the Nazi regime had a legal right to exist and that either by silence or overt support Catholics consented to it.
  • Quoted St. Thomas Aquinas: “Laws that do not serve the common good are unjust.”
  • Quoted St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
  • Stated that he acted in accordance with Jesus. Jesus’ declaration, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” was a call to action.
  • Stated that his actions at Y-12 did not constitute a violation of law, but rather his obedience to God’s law. “I am a citizen of heaven. We engaged in our lawful, missionary work at Y-12. I committed no crime. I have no remorse.”
  • Stated that he was acting in support of the rule of law. “I am the face of tomorrow. The face of total demilitarization and vindication of the prophets.”
  • In response to a comment made during the hearing by U.S. District Attorney Jeff Theodore, he stated that we both have something in common in admiring Rosa Parks as he commended him for sitting on the same seat of the bus that Rosa Parks was arrested in during a visit he made to Michigan where the bus was on display.

    *  Read the TNP action indictment.

Summary Notes of Greg Boertje-Obed’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • Read an excerpt of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech re: why he opposed the Vietnam war.
  • Read an excerpt from Dan Berrigan’s poem: “Hymn To A New Humanity.”
  • Stated that people around the world see that the U.S. is breaking the law. Three new Bomb plants are being built, including at Oak Ridge, which will maintain nuclear weapons for over 80 years. If the U.S. were to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it “would promote respect for the law.”

Summary Notes of Sr. Megan Rice’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • One of the great problems is that people don’t know the 70 year history of nuclear weapons and the secrecy that surrounds nuclear policy. Encouraged the Judge and everyone in court to read the book Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen.
  • Spoke of how every single day and all of life is a miracle and how the Bomb is a threat to that miracle.
  • Referred to the book A Beautiful Mind and how many of the best minds today agree that there is an alternative to nuclear weapons.
  • Spoke of a “cloud of deception” surrounding the economic extortion going on at Y-12 and that this was never mentioned at the first sentencing hearing regarding the restitution the TNP were ordered to pay.
  • Acknowledged the support the TNP have received from all over the world and showed the court a signed card from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers that was recently sent to her by Kathy Kelly.
  • Appealed to the judge not to show leniency toward her and that it would be an honor to spend the rest of her life in prison.
  • Spoke of the injustice she has witnessed first-hand in the for-profit detention complex and the dehumanizing jail conditions.
  • Spoke of the connections between the rich controlling the wealth and resources at the expense of the poor and how the military budget constitutes a theft from the poor.
  • Cited an Appellate Court’s overturning the conviction of the Plowshares Eight and Appellate Judge Spaeth’s opinion regarding the catastrophic danger posed by nuclear weapons.
  • Referred to German Judge Ulf Panzer who was arrested for opposing the deployment of Pershing II nuclear missiles at the U.S. air base in Mutlangen in 1987 and lawyers and jurists worldwide who declared nuclear weapons to be illegal.
  • Judge granted her request to sing the song “Sacred the Land.” All present in the main courtroom and the overflow courtroom joined in singing the song.
Published in: on February 23, 2014 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Report of Sentencing of Transform Now Plowshares to Prison Terms Ranging From Nearly Three Years to Over 5 Years

Dear Friends,
In this May 6, 2013, file photo, of the Transform Now Plowshares, from left, Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed arrive for their trial in Knoxville, Tenn. Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel/AP

In this May 6, 2013, file photo, of the Transform Now Plowshares, from left, Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed arrive for their trial in Knoxville, Tenn. Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel/AP

I have just returned from the sentencing hearing of our three Transform Now Plowshares (TNP) friends in Knoxville, Tennessee who were given prison terms ranging from 35 months to 62 months, three years supervised release and nearly $53,000 in restitution. From the Festival of Hope the night before the sentencing (see below reflection) to the witness Mike Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and Sr. Megan Rice offered in court at their sentencing, this was a deeply inspiring hope-filled time despite the heavy sentences that were given. The spirit of community, the loving welcome and special hospitality offered by friends of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), and the speaking of truth by our three friends in the empire’s court was, for me, an infusion of hope!

This was Part II of the sentencing of the TNP that began on January 28 but was suspended due to a snow storm and continued to February 18. The bulk of the hearing, which began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted to nearly 6:00 p.m., included legal arguments by attorneys for the TNP and the government about how to apply the federal sentencing guidelines. Greg and the defense lawyers urged a significant downward departure from the guidelines referring to previous plowshares cases of Sicken and Platte where judges had done so. But Mr. Theodore said that because these cases were in another district they did not apply. The heart of the hearing though occurred late in the afternoon when our three friends, looking pale and thin, dressed in black striped jail uniforms and wearing leg shackles and handcuffs (it should be noted that the court ordered one hand to be uncuffed during the hearing), but full of the Holy Spirit, addressed the court. They did not hold back and gave eloquent stirring statements (see Summary of Pre-Sentencing Statements below). It was truly a sacred time and an extraordinary moment of grace for all present. The truth, so powerfully spoken by Mike, Greg and Megan in court, not only amplified the moral and legal justification for their action but also exposed, once again, the crime and sin of nuclear weapons and how the U.S. is blatantly violating God’s law, international law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The legal exchanges that occurred between the judge and prosecutor about how long a prison sentence was warranted to deter the TNP who, they said, had no remorse for their action and utter disregard for the law, was absurd and illustrated how the law is used to sanction weapons of mass murder. It was a another reminder of how the law, as Phil Berrigan used to say, is the real obstacle to justice.
Judge Thapar received some 16,000 letters from TNP supporters encouraging leniency for our three friends. He acknowledged receiving these letters and affirmed the good works and the intentions of the three. Ultimately though, he could not grasp or accept the truth our three friends offered: that in an empire that legalizes nuclear weapons and thereby imperils all life earth, nonviolent resistance is not only necessary but a duty under God’s law and international law to help bring about disarmament and nuclear abolition. Instead Judge Thapar asserted: “If all that energy and passion was devoted to changing the laws, perhaps real change would’ve occurred by today.”  He said repeatedly that as a judge, he has  to judge the actions and not viewpoints of the defendants and that he was not in a position to judge what God’s will is. He also quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens several times saying that “no person is above the law.” While declaring that he could not give the three a sentence of time served (eight months), he also said that he could not go along with U.S. District Attorney Jeff Theodore strong recommendation that the three, who Theodore described as “incorrigible” and “habitual offenders,” should be sentenced under the strict federal guidelines. Theodore also remarked that he was a Catholic himself and that while he respected the three, they are not above the law. Seeking to reconcile the sentencing guidelines with the character and personal history of the three, Judge Thapar said the guidelines do not distinguish saboteurs who truly mean harm from peace protesters who intend change. In the end, Judge Thapar, showing that he understood that the TNP were indeed peace activists, rightfully chose a sentence that was below the federal sentencing guidelines. But let’s be clear: Michael, Greg and Sr. Megan should never have been arrested, tried, convicted and given a prison sentence in the first place. And, clearly they should have been granted a sentence of time served. For their action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex at Oak Ridge was in accordance with God’s law and international law. They acted to prevent a crime, not to commit a crime. Thus, the real crime of nuclear war preparations at the Y-12 facility, the so-called “Fort Knox of Highly Enriched Uranium” continues and the truth-tellers are locked up!

Let us all continue to keep our eyes on the prize as we strive to create the Beloved Community and a nonviolent disarmed world. And let us be filled with the same joy and hope of our three imprisoned friends. As Mike, Greg and Sr. Megan were taken out of the courtroom in chains our gathered community sang: “Rejoice in the Lord Always.”

With gratitude, Art

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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