Hiroshima & Nagasaki – Never Again guest opinion in the AZ Daily Star

The following guest opinion was published in the Arizona Daily Star on August 6, 2020, and signed by 154 individuals and 21 organizations and faith communities.

by Jack & Felice Cohen-Joppa, The Nuclear Resister

Seventy-five years ago on August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States launched humanity into the nuclear age with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. More than 200,000 people were dead within days, half of them killed in an instant as the flash and blast flattened their cities. Hundreds of thousands more were maimed by the bomb or sickened by the “black rain” of radioactive fallout. Birth defects, leukemia and other cancers, chronic disease and the many long lasting effects of radiation exposure are still being felt today.

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Standing up to Rosatom

Anti-nuclear resistance in Russia: problems protests, reprisals

Yekaterinburg protest against UF6 import courtesy of RSEU

Reposted with permission from Beyond Nuclear International
The following is a report from the Russian Social Ecological Union (RSEU)/ Friends of the Earth Russia, slightly edited for length. You can read the report in full here. It is a vitally important document exposing the discrimination and fear tactics used against anti-nuclear organizers in Russia and details their courageous acts of defiance in order to bring the truth of Russia’s nuclear sector to light.

Rosatom is a Russian state-owned corporation which builds and operates nuclear power plants in Russia and globally. The state-run nuclear industry in Russia has a long history of nuclear crises, including the Kyshtym disaster in 1957 and Chernobyl in 1986. Yet Rosatom plans to build dozens of nuclear reactors in Russia, to export its deadly nuclear technologies to other countries, and then to import their hazardous nuclear waste.

This report is a collection of events and details about the resistance to Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, and other activities that have led to the pollution of the environment and violation of human rights. Social and environmental conflicts created by Rosatom have been left unresolved for years, while at the same time, environmental defenders who have raised these issues, have consistently experienced reprisals.

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Nuclear weapons abolitionists again convicted of damage and trespass in Germany

Outside the courthouse in Cochem

by John LaForge, Nukewatch

On June 10 in Cochem, Germany, three peace activists were convicted of “damage to property” and “trespass” for their part in a July 15, 2018 protest at the Büchel Air Force Base in west-central Germany, where the United States Air Force deploys 20 hydrogen bombs. The trial of Marion Küpker, of Hamburg, Stefanie Augustin, of Dortmund, and Margriet Bos, of Amsterdam, was the latest in a series of trials resulting from a long-running campaign of nonviolent resistance directed against the threatened use of the U.S. nuclear bombs. District Judge Andre Zimmermann sentenced Küpker, Bos and Augustine to fines ranging between 1,200 and 300 Euros, or to a possible 30 days in jail for refusing to pay.
 The regional paper Rhein-Zeitung reported, “The three women entered the Büchel air base together with a total of 18 people during an international protest week,” July 15, 2018. The protest was aimed at U.S. nuclear weapons used at the NATO base where the Luftwaffe’s Tornado fighter jet pilots from Germany’s 33rd Tactical Air Force Wing train to drop the U.S. nuclear weapons which are maintained there by the U.S. Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron. The widely reported mid-summer action saw five separate openings cut in the base’s chain link fence, through which the 18 resisters entered in small groups unhindered, in broad daylight, on a Sunday morning. One person got through in a wheel chair, and another entered using crutches. 

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Elizabeth McAlister sentenced for 2018 Plowshares disarmament action

Elizabeth McAlister (photo by Steve Dear)

from the Nuclear Resister

A revered elder of the American anti-war movement was sentenced on Monday, June 8 to time served for her part with six other Catholic peace activists in the April 4, 2018 Kings Bay Plowshares nonviolent direct action for nuclear disarmament. Elizabeth McAlister, age 80, had already spent more than 17 months in Georgia county jails following her arrest.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, McAlister appeared for sentencing via video from her daughter’s home in Connecticut, surrounded by her three children, their partners and her six grandchildren. Judge Lisa Godbey Wood presided from federal court in Brunswick, Georgia.

McAlister was also ordered to pay a special assessment of $310 and restitution of $33,503.51, assigned jointly and severally to all the defendants. Out of consideration for her lifetime of voluntary poverty and lack of material assets, the court did not impose a fine, but mandated a minimum payment of $25/month towards restitution. McAlister was also placed on three years of supervised probation.

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First U.S. citizen convicted for protests at nuclear weapons base in Germany

May 26, 2020
by John LaForge, Nukewatch

COCHEM, Germany 

A US Air Force veteran of the US war in Vietnam and two other nuclear weapons protesters were found guilty of trespassing and damage to property in Cochem District Court May 11, 2020, as a result of July 2018 protest action at Germany’s Büchel Air Force Base, where the United States positions 20 of its nuclear bombs and where German pilots train to use them in possible attacks against Russia.

Dennis DuVall, 78, a long-time member of Veterans for Peace from Arizona and now living in Dresden, Germany, became the first US citizen prosecuted in Germany for civil resistance against the threatened use of the US nuclear weapons. (US Catholic Priest Carl Kabat was thrown out of Germany for a disarmament action against US Pershing missiles deployed there in the 1980s.)

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Beating Swords into Plowshares

Kathy Kelly

by Kathy Kelly

Inscribed on a wall across from the United Nations in New York City are ancient words of incalculable yearning:

“They will beat their swords into plowshares
 and their spears into pruning hooks.
 Nation will not take up sword against nation,
 nor will they train for war anymore.” – Isaiah 2:4

I’ve stood with activists in front of that same wall singing Down by the Riverside, a song promising we’ll lay down our swords and shields, – “and study war no more, no more.”

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Sentencing dates set for Kings Bay Plowshares nuclear abolitionists

UPDATE: Elizabeth McAlister had her sentencing on June 8 via video from her  daughter’s home in Connecticut.  The other six Kings Bay Plowshares defendants filed several continuances for their sentencing, which is now scheduled for October 15 and 16.  Because of COVID-19, they have asked for these continuances in order to be able to safely travel to Brunswick, Georgia and appear in open court with family, character witnesses and supporters present.

by Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa, the Nuclear Resister

After delays and disputes over pre-sentencing reports followed by a court closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the seven Kings Bay Plowshares activists are due to be sentenced in separate hearings on May 28 and 29 in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia. The dates were announced on April 6, just over two years from the day the seven were arrested inside Kings Bay Naval Base while engaged in symbolic acts of nuclear disarmament.

At press time, it is not yet certain whether the defendants will appear in person or by video, whether spectators will be allowed in the courtroom or access to the proceedings by audio stream, or whether sentencing might be delayed.

The declaration of a National Emergency in mid-March led federal courts around the country to curtail business and restrict access. In southeast Georgia, the federal court put most proceedings on hold, first until April 17 and later through the end of May.

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Muslim philanthropist Dr. Rafil Dhafir released from prison after 17 years

dhafirtrial.net photo, 2007

by Jack Cohen-Joppa, The Nuclear Resister

On the morning of May 15, Dr. Rafil Dhafir was released to home confinement from the Allenwood federal prison in central Pennsylvania. The Iraqi-American physician and philanthropist has been in federal prison since the day of his arrest more than 17 years ago in 2003, on the eve of the second U.S. invasion of Iraq. He was not due to be paroled from his 22-year sentence until November, 2021. Dhafir will now complete that term at his home near Syracuse, New York.

A combination of factors described in the Bureau of Prisons (BoP) COVID-19 management plan added up to Rafil Dhafir’s eligibility for release now. Many of his supporters wrote to the warden following the March 26 memo from Attorney General William Barr to the Director of the BoP that outlined the plan. Dhafir is 71 years old and was being held at a low-security institution. He has a compromised immune system due to diabetes. He had no conduct violations within the last year. He had demonstrated a re-entry plan that both maximizes public safety and reduces his risk of exposure compared to continued confinement, and local authorities confirmed that he posed no danger to the community based on his crime of conviction. 

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Peacemaking in the shadow of pandemic

Patrick O’Neill with his wife Mary Rider

By Patrick O’Neill

  Blank stares. During the course of our four-day federal trial last October, that’s all I saw in the faces of our jurors in U.S. District Court in the Deep South city of Brunswick, GA. Those 12 people took so little time to convict us that it was clear they never had to deliberate. Our guilt — on three felonies and a misdemeanor count — was a foregone conclusion.
  I am among seven Catholic pacifists who were arrested April 4, 2018 on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for a protest against the Trident nuclear submarines at Naval Station Kings Bay in St. Mary, GA. Five of my co-defendants and I have been out of jail under house arrest and curfew since our release on bond. Fr. Stephen Kelly, a Jesuit priest, is doing time in the Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, where he has been jailed since our arrest. We are worried about Fr. Kelly and the coronavirus because there is no way to practice social distancing in jail.

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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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