Italian plowshares activist Turi Vaccaro released from Sicilian prison

Turi Vaccaro hangs his Swords into Plows banner inside the MUOS base in Sicily, December 2, 2014. Photo by Fabio d’Alessandro

After 21 months behind bars, Turi Vaccaro walked out of Sicily’s Pagliarelli prison on April 15. The 67-year-old pacifist was a fugitive from court for previous acts of nonviolent resistance to the Pentagon’s MUOS satellite relay station when police caught up with him at the annual NO MUOS peace camp in August, 2018. He was sentenced then to nearly 12 months for a December, 2014 Spade in Aratri (Swords into Plowshares) action, at which he cut the fence to enter the MUOS site, planted fig trees and grape vines, and picked up a large rock and battered electrical equipment vital to the operation of a MUOS satellite dish. While in custody, other outstanding protest charges were prosecuted and months were added to his sentence.

Vaccaro was to have been released at the end of 2019, but throughout his imprisonment he has silently refused consent to prison discipline in numerous ways, and last fall he refused to sign the forms requesting parole. A further six months were added to his sentence on January 1, pushing his expected release date out to August, 2020.

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Sentencing dates set for Kings Bay Plowshares 7

from the Kings Bay Plowshares media team, April 10, 2020

After a six month wait, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has set two May dates for sentencing the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 defendants, who were found guilty on October 24, 2019 for their nonviolent symbolic disarmament action at Kings Bay Naval Base in April 2018.

On May 28, Carmen Trotta of St. Joseph Catholic Worker in New York City, Mark Colville of the Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven, Connecticut, and Clare Grady of the Ithaca Catholic Worker in New York, will be sentenced by the Southern District Federal Court Judge in Brunswick, Georgia.

On May 29, Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., held for the last two years in Georgia county jails, Martha Hennessy of Mary House Catholic Worker in New York City and granddaughter of Catholic Worker movement co-founder Dorothy Day, Elizabeth (Liz) McAlister of Baltimore’s Jonah House and widow of Phil Berrigan, and Patrick O’Neill of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker in Garner, North Carolina, will also be sentenced by the same court.

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“He’s Got Eight Numbers, Just Like Everybody Else” by Kathy Kelly

3/14/18 – Fr. Steve Kelly at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa.

Trident nuclear disarmament activist Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest, begins his third year imprisoned in a county jail as he and his companions await sentencing.

by Kathy Kelly

April 3, 2020

On April 4, 2020, my friend Steve Kelly will begin a third year of imprisonment in Georgia’s Glynn County jail. He turned 70 while in prison, and while he has served multiple prison sentences for protesting nuclear weapons, spending two years in a county jail is unusual even for him. Yet he adamantly urges supporters to focus attention on the nuclear weapons arsenals which he and his companions aim to disarm. “The nukes are not going to go away by themselves,” says Steve.

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 now await sentencing for their action, performed two years ago inside the Kings Bay Trident Submarine base in southern Georgia. They acted in concert with many others who take literally the Scriptural call to “beat swords into plowshares.”  Commenting on their case, Bill Quigley, a member of their legal team, told me “their actions speak louder than  their words and their words are very powerful.” Bill encourages us to remember each of them in our thoughts, prayers, and, hopefully, through our actions. “The legal system is not big enough for the hearts, minds and spirits of these folks,” he adds. “The legal system tries to concentrate all of this down to whether you cut a fence or sprayed some blood.” Bill believes we should instead look at the impending disaster nuclear weapons could cause, and the continuing disaster they do cause by wasting crucially needed resources to potentially destroy the planet.

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Activists charged, detained after praying for peace inside naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea

Photo by Choi Sung-hee, of Dr. Song Kang-ho and Ryu Bok-hee before court, holding signs which read “Demilitarized Peace Island Jeju” and “I want to see Gureombi” (which could also be translated as “I Miss Gureombi”)

On March 7, peace activists on Jeju Island cut the fence to enter the naval base that has been opposed by residents of neighboring Gangjeong Village since it was first proposed in 1993, and became the focus of daily protests since 2007, before construction began. Once inside, Dr. Song Kang-ho and Ryu Bok-hee walked to the area of the remaining part of Gureombi Rock to pray for peace.

Dr. Song had applied multiple times with the Navy for permission to enter the base that day to visit Gureombi. March 7 marked the 8th anniversary of the blasting of Gureombi Rock  – freshwater rock wetlands that harbored rare sea life and provided drinking water for many island inhabitants, long regarded by locals as sacred – to prepare the site for the construction of the naval base.

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Immediate support action needed for Dr. Rafil Dhafir, Humanitarian Political Prisoner

Dr. Rafil Dhafir has been in prison for more than 17 years, is 71 years old and has multiple serious health problems. Please ask the warden at Federal Correctional Institution Allenwood Low in Pennsylvania to FREE HIM NOW!

Dr. Rafil Dhafir is an Iraqi emigre and oncologist. As a respected physician and Islamic community leader in upstate New York, he was an outspoken opponent of the 1991-2003 U.S. sanctions against Iraq. He established a charity for beleaguered Iraqis and donated over $1 million of his own earnings to their needs. 
On February 26, 2003, days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, government agents arrested Dr. Dhafir as he drove to work, raided his home and office, and charged him with violating the economic sanctions against Iraq and money laundering. He was repeatedly denied bail, slandered by public officials as a funder of terrorists, convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison. His case is emblematic of the malicious prosecution of Muslim philanthropists and charities in the post-9/11 era. 
He has now served most of his sentence and is scheduled to be released on November 24, 2021.

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The COVID-19 crisis underscores the need to release Leonard Peltier

https://medium.com/…/the-covid-19-crisis-underscores-the-ne…

March 26, 2020

by Zeke Johnson, Senior Director of Programs, Amnesty International USA

Amnesty International, an independent human rights organization, has long called for clemency and release for Native American activist Leonard Peltier, due to fair trial concerns, the exhaustion of his appeals and his having served more than 40 years in prison, some of which was spent in solitary confinement, for a crime he has always claimed he did not commit. The threat of COVID-19 underscores the urgency of this call, as Peltier is 75 years old and has serious health concerns. He suffers from diabetes, among a myriad of other health issues, and in January 2016 was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which can be fatal if it ruptures.

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Judge Orders Chelsea Manning’s Release From Jail for Not Cooperating With WikiLeaks Grand Jury, Supporters Raise $256,000 Fines

By Andy Worthington (reprinted by permission of the author)

March 15, 2020

Good news from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where, on Thursday (March 12), District Judge Anthony J. Trenga ordered the immediate release from jail of whistleblower Chelsea Manning (formerly Pfc. Bradley Manning), who has been imprisoned since last March for refusing to cooperate with a Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

While serving as an Army intelligence analyst in 2009, Manning was responsible for the largest leak of military and diplomatic documents in US history, and received a 35-year sentence — described by Charlie Savage in the New York Times as “the longest sentence by far in an American leak case” — in August 2013.

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Thirteen disarmament activists arrested in nonviolent blockade of Trident nuclear submarine base

George Rodkey, Gary Cavalier, Sue Ablao, Julia Ochiogrosso

by Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa, the Nuclear Resister

Thirteen nuclear abolitionists blocked traffic leading into Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington on March 2, as part of a public protest of the United States’ Trident nuclear-missile launching submarines based there.

The direct action came at the conclusion of the annual gathering of the Pacific Life Community, a network of spiritually motivated activists from the Pacific Coast and other western states committed to nonviolent action for a nuclear-free future.

Washington state police arrested nine people for obstructing traffic after they carried banners that stretched across the roadway just outside the base main gate. Their banners read “Trident Threatens All Life on Earth” and “Abolish Nuclear Weapons”. While they stood in the road, one of the blockaders read aloud from the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2017, the Treaty will enter into force when ratified by 50 nations. Thirty-five nations have ratified to date.)

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Kings Bay Plowshares 7 still await sentencing

from the Kings Bay Plowshares support group, February 6, 2020

Dear Friends,

We continue to wait for a sentencing date to be announced. There have been delays in getting all the necessary pre-sentencing reports done by the probation officers. The defendants were originally told that sentencing would be 60-90 days from the conviction date on October 24th. After the reports are received each defendant has two weeks to make any corrections of their record and challenge the probation office’s findings. Then there is additional time for more responses from the government. Sentencing may take place in March.

Shortly after the trial an appeal was filed to drop one of two charges; one for destruction of government property or another for depredation of property on a naval base. The attorneys argued that the two charges are redundant, and one should be dropped (the 2 charges appear to be for the same thing). Each additional felony charge can add substantially to the possible sentences. There has been no decision on this appeal so far.

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Conference & demo in May: Stop the New Nuclear Arms Race

From OREPA, Nukewatch and the Nuclear Resister, COVID 19 update, April 6, 2020:
Maryville College’s campus is closed through the end of May, and Tennessee has instituted travel and gathering restrictions, so we have taken the disappointing but necessary decision to cancel STOP THE NEW NUCLEAR ARMS RACE. If you are registered for the conference, you will receive a refund in the near future. The conference is off, but the work is not! A world free of nuclear weapons is possible if we all work for it.

“Those who say a world without nuclear weapons is impossible need to get out of the way of those who are making it happen.” – Beatrice Fihn, ICAN

REGISTER NOWSPONSOR OR ENDORSESPREAD THE WORD! 

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