Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] have been active in challenging U.S. invasions and attacks of Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. Frequently NCNR members have been arrested, and then in court speak out against such U.S. policies. On May 23, 2013 members of NCNR filed a criminal complaint with the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia against the CIA’s use of drone strikes to assassinate people in various countries, including Pakistan. The citizen activists never received a response.
Subsequently, NCNR gathered some 200 signatures on a letter to CIA Director John Brennan seeking a meeting to discuss ending the assassination program. Again there was no response. On June 29, 2013 six activists went to the Central Intelligence Agency hoping to arrange a meeting with CIA officials. While a CIA representative accepted the letter, he would not speak with the petitioners. So these petitioners engaged in a die-in to represent the victims of the assassination program. The police then arrested Joy First, Mt. Horeb, WI, Malachy Kilbride, Arlington, VA, Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD, Phil Runkel, Milwaukee, WI, Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA, and Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Lexington, KY, and charged them with “enter or remain on installation without authorization.” Now they are scheduled for trial.
Thanks to Joshua Brollier, a co-coordinator with WNPJ member group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, for this timely piece. He has participated in delegations and peace-building efforts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Palestine, and studied Arabic in Syria from September 2010- February 2011.
To those who think the United States should intervene in Syria,
Remember this is the same United States which:
is still deeply involved in two failed wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan that have lasted for over a decade without coming to a conclusion.
"Anyone who doubts whether international labor solidarity makes a difference should speak to Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)," reports US Labor Against the War.
"Months after the Ministry of Oil lodged a criminal complaint against Brother Juma'a and after seven or more postponements, his case was finally heard by a Basra count. ... In 30 minutes the court decided to drop the charges. The company lawyer and the prosecutor repeated the accusations against Hassan but could produce no evidence that the Iraqi economy suffered any damage as a consequence of strikes by oil workers over broken promises, unsafe working conditions and lack of respect for their rights."
The Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq stated, "This is an accomplished victory for supporters of freedom of trade union work and supporters of the freedom to work and assemble in Iraq and all over the world, and is the best proof that international and domestic solidarity is capable of reestablishing free and legal trade union work."
WNPJ was one of 164 organizations from around the world that signed onto a statement in support of Hassan and labor rights in Iraq.
"Who are the true patriots of today? Not the flag-wrapped politicians who send other people’s children off to be killed or disabled in wars to make the world safe for big businesses," writes Bill Quigley, before suggesting 12 people we should celebrate on Independence Day.
One of Quigley's "true patriots" is Joy First of Mt. Horeb, who's active with WNPJ member groups Pledge of Resistance and WI Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. Quigley lauds Joy as a "Wisconsin grandmother of five who has been arrested over 30 times for protesting against the Iraq invasion, the war in Afghanistan, the US drone assassinations."
Congrats, Joy (with Cindy Sheehan in photo), and happy Inter-dependence Day, all!
WNPJ member group Voices for Creative Nonviolence's recent "Covering Ground the Ground the Drones" peace walk brought concerns and facts about drone warfare to people across Iowa and beyond.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported: "The 14-day anti-drone march from Rock Island to Des Moines has drawn activists from here in Iowa City and as far away as England.
On May 28, five nonviolent activists attempted to deliver an indictment for war crimes to Volk Field Commander Colonel Dave Romuald. They walked peacefully onto the base with the indictment in hand, and asked for a meeting with Colonel Romauld. But they were promptly arrested, taken to the Juneau County jail in handcuffs, and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. They were released several hours later after processing.
Arrested were Bonnie Block, Madison; Joyce Ellwanger, Milwaukee; Joy First, Mt. Horeb; Mary Beth Schlagheck, Windsor, and Kathy Walsh, Madison. Between the five women, they have 25 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren that motivate them in this work. (Click here to read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's coverage of the protest.)
They are all members of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars and they have vigiled at the gates of Volk Field monthly since December of 2011. The nonviolent solemn vigils are a way to remember the innocent lives that have been lost as a result of drone warfare.
WNPJ member group Voices for Creative Nonviolence is planning a 200-mile walk and speaking tour to protest drone warfare.
From June 8 to 23, walkers will trek from the Rock Island Arsenal (where launch mechanisms and bomb components are manufactured) to the Iowa Air National Guard’s 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines, the proposed site of a new command center where drones can be remotely-piloted to fly over other countries.
Voices for Creative Nonviolence is seeking walkers, places to stay and groups interested in hosting a presentation. The walkers will include Voices co-coordinator and activist Brian Terrell, of Maloy, IA, who will have just completed 6 months in prison for nonviolent civil resistance at a drone base, and Kathy Kelly, who will have just returned from Afghanistan, where U.S. drones have tragically impacted so many lives.
Contact Voices at 773-878-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bill proposed by a bipartisan group of state representatives would require law enforcement officials to get a search warrant before using drones for surveillance, and ban drone surveillance by private citizens in non-public places, where there is "expectation of privacy," reports the Capital Times.
Bonnie Block of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, a WNPJ member group, applauds the bill but wishes it would go further.
"We have militarized the police and the use of drones is just another part of that," she said. "It is very worrisome to me that they need military-style weapons for local law enforcement agencies."