Friday, 17 November 2017

Military Universities and Jesuit whitewash



Although I am now a non-believer, I have nothing but the height of respect for that gallant group of people in the United States of America who call themselves the Catholic Workers.  They have relentlessly waged a gallant non-violent struggle both to help the poor and to oppose all war and warmongers in whatever disguise over many years. In their struggle against the supporters and purveyors of a philosophy and theology of violence, they have been to prison time after time, some like the Berrigan brothers Philip and Daniel enduring years of life behind bars.  The Berrigans were Jesuits, Dan persisting in the clerical vocation till his recent death and Phil leaving the priesthood to marry Elizabeth McAlister and with her rear a brilliant family, persisting in both his faith and vocation to oppose all war until he died in December 2002.

The tradition of the Berrigans lives on.

In Ireland Mary Kelly, and five Pitstop Ploughshare activists (Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran, Ciaron O'Reilly) blazed a non-violent trail in 2003 by disabling a US warplane at Shannon airport, risking years in prison. After tortuous trials they were all eventually acquitted because they had lawful excuse (to save lives in Iraq). Since then other activists have engaged in protests at the same airport having entered it by cutting or in one case hopping the fence.  Seventy nine year old Margaretta D'Arcy spent time in jail, Niall Farrell, Mick Wallace TD, Clare Daly TD, Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan followed suit. [See previous blogs].

There are onging actions of a similar kind in Australia at present

Yesterday in the United States,Catholic Workers, Vets for Peace and a member of a group called Neb. For Peace were among the eight people who showed up on the side walk outside the Creighton Universities ROTC building at noon, to protest

As part of a national wide campaign called “Teach Peace Not War!”, they hope to get the 17 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities that host Military Training to end the obnoxious practice.The group at Creighton asked the University "not to whitewash the gospel"  and presented the Director with a bucket of whitewash as a reminder.

Spokesperson Andy Kenney said to the Jesuit Director: "Please accept this bucket of whitewash as a gentle reminder not to use it to conform to the world around you. May you never have need to open it again. May you advocate, with the zeal and authority of Jesus, to remove worldly military training centers from your catholic campuses.”







Saturday, 28 October 2017

Rajoy calls for calm, then fires Catalan President, senior ministers and dissolves Parliament.


The Spanish Premier has added fuel to the fire by reacting to Catalonia's declaration of independence by dissolving the regional Parliament, dismissing its President, senior ministers and chief of police despite asking for "calm".  To any outside observer this looks like a recipe for disaster.
Premier Rajoy and King Felipe have adopted an imperial approach to the Catalan attempt to gain independence from the beginning.  They have opposed a regional democratic vote, giving Spanish police a free hand to use violence against voters on the day of the referendum.

Catalonia is split almost evenly on the question of independence so a democratic vote might have resulted in a win for either side. But an aloof and rigid government in Madrid refused to allow such a vote to take place. In this they were backed by the European Union who plead that there could be too many countries around for them to govern if secessions happen.
The Catalan response is firm and more responsible.  They will oppose the heavy-handedness from Madrid by non-violent means, civil disobedience and passive resistance.  As these are very powerful tools, more powerful in the long run than violence and physical force, the Spanish could have a long struggle on their hands.
At least that will be true if the Catalan independence struggle remains non-violent in the strictest sense.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Catalonia declares independence from Spain


Spanish Senate votes to trigger Article 151

On a historic day for Catalonia and Spain, Catalonia has declared its independence.  The vote was 70 - 10 with 2 blanks.  The Opposition had walked out before the vote was taken.

Within the hour the Spanish Senate triggered Article 151 which will give them power to remove the Catalan President Carles Puidgemont and his ministers from office.  The future looks ominous for both sides.

Whatever the reasons for their struggle for independence, the Catalan President his parliament and supporters deserve credit for their courage.  They have peacefully withstood a brutal put down by Spanish police on their own streets and later the threats of Spain's President (Prime Minister) Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish King Felipe.  The latters' actions and words were not conducive to a peaceful resolution of their differences with the Catalan independence movement.

The scenes of unbridled joy on the streets of Barcelona have been tempered by the aforesaid threats.

Because of their peaceful stance, their courage in the face of brutality and their steadfastness in the face of ugly threats from Madrid, my heart lies with the Catalan independence movement.




Thursday, 12 October 2017

Macron's Double Speak on Catalan Bid for independence


When Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France I was pleased.  Without knowing much about him, I thought he might be a welcome change to his conservative predecessors.  The French electorate may not have known much about him either.  They may or may not have known of allegations of favouritism against his ministry while he was the Minister of Economy and Finance.  That happened in 2016 when he was invited speaker at a Las Vegas technology event that cost €381,759. They probably knew of his intentions to crack down on workers' rights as part of his reform.   Still they gave him a chance.

As an inspirational leader for change in the best sense he has been a big disappointment. His pronouncement on 10 October 2017, purporting not to intervene in the "Catalan matter" while at the same time being a major interventionist on behalf of the Spanish government, underlines that disappointment.

“If I were to intervene in the Catalan matter it would be interfering in the domestic affairs of Spain and that would be intolerable for the prime minister and for the Spanish monarch”, he said.

But he also said “ I continue to hold firm to this line in my declarations of support for Mariano Rajoy - because if I don’t there will be disintegration,”

In a word he will not intervene on the side of the successful Catalan referendum for independence but he will intervene to oppose it.

There was no word of outrage, protest or even concern about the brutal treatment of voters by police during that referendum.

Monsieur Macron signals No Change for politics in France

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Dogs that Follow


I've written a number of plays over the years but never had one produced. The nearest to success was one called "Men in Black" [long before the film of the same name] which drew praise and a special interview (but not production) from the Abbey Theatre. Too many characters (aren't there always?), more suitable for TV, they said. The only TV station that replied was the BBC who gave it even more elaborate praise but said it was more suitable for the Abbey.

Tried the Abbey again lately with the Dogs that Follow. Six months wait. Then a "summary", the contents of which made me realise that the reader had read only a part of the first Act. Damning with faint praise. Rejected. So now, the whole play is available for any drama group or theatre to produce for free.

The following message is on my Facebook page:

Anyone interested in a new 2-act play "The Dogs that Follow"?   Read it here.  Would love if some drama group produced it. Please get in touch if you are interested.  

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1aGLX1Ke5tkUlRsc0pXR2NzX1E/view?usp=sharing

Here is the summary you will see at the beginning of the script to whet the appetite!

[The play is set in midsummer 1978 in the graveyard of Drumcliff Co Sligo where William Butler Yeats is buried.
The action is around another grave near Yeats' where R.I.C Sergeant Joe Duffy his wife and two childen lie.
Two teachers, Jim and Niall arrive from Dublin to tidy the grave. Friends but with different viewpoints on women. Jim's wife Maeve is a niece of the dead infants. Her mother Mabel dislikes Jim.
Jim and Niall discuss women, love, Yeats' work, violence, Jim's trouble with Mabel. Yeats had written that men were like dogs that follow at the heels of women
Two female US students arrive to see the poet's grave and introduce a little banter
Mabel and Maeve arrive at the grave, Mabel insults Jim, rows with Maeve and has a panic attack
 

In the second Act, Jim is isolated in the graveyard at night after a break-up with Maeve. He encounters fairy dancers, young Mabel and later the ghost of WB Yeats. Young Mabel tells Jim about her father's death from pneumonia after he had been left out all night by an IRA volunteer group and how no-one in Sligo attended his funeral. Jim is overcome with love or infatuation for young Mabel and at her invitation they make love.
In their encounter with Yeats, Jim and young Mabel discuss with him his own influence on the rebels of 1916, and criticise his support for violence in his plays. Jim asks for his opinion of women, especially how to handle the powerful bond between mother and daughter.
As dawn breaks Niall has come with sleeping bags, Yeats and young Mabel fade away, Yeats shouting to the night his discovery of the new word, Ze, to replace “he or she”.   Jim recounts to a worried Niall his sexual encounter with young Mabel and his discussion with Yeats. Eventually old Mabel and Maeve arrive and are overcome with the warm reception given to old Mabel by Jim. All is changed utterly for the better – or is it? Old Mabel puzzles Maeve by saying to Jim “Don't think I've forgotten what happened in the middle of the night!”]

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Letter to the Archbishop of Brisbane

TO: ARCHBISHOP MARK COLERIDGE 
 
Dear brother Mark

Tomorrow four conscientious members of your Church attend a secular court to defend their action of beating swords into ploughshares - a major and significant call to put an end to all war and usher in a new era of peace in the world.

Their action was very much in line with the teaching of the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, and redolent of his own civil disobedience and challenges to the secular authorities of his own daWhat would Jesus do tomorrow if he were Archbishop of Brisbane?

Would he sit at home writing a sermon about the love of God?

Would he write a petition to the people of his diocese asking for more funds for administration of the diocese?

Would he make a call or send an e-mail to the prosecutors congratulating them and giving full support to any term of imprisonment imposed?

Would he go for an expensive lunch with the most important people he could find in Brisbane?

Would he just engage in "normal episcopal duties"?

Am I mad to think, given his own life's history, that he would enter the Magistrate's courtroom and openly support the four Catholic Workers who have taken, like him, such a brave and unselfish stand on behalf of peace, justice and love?

Would Jesus have supported George W Bush's war in Iraq?

Would he support the Australian war effort in Afghanistan where Australian soldiers have cut off the hands of their enemies?

I am not of the Catholic faith although I was once a priest. Now, without that faith, I consider all men my brothers and all women my sisters.

As my brother I ask you to give your support to these Catholic Workers who for me resemble most closely the founder of the Catholic church in which you are a modern apostle.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan
Dublin  Ireland

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mass executions planned for Arkansas

Help stop a mass execution in Arkansas!  Call the governor of Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson, asking him to reverse his barbaric decision to execute eight men over 10 days in late April because the state's supply of lethal injection drugs will expire that month!  (501) 682-2345

Or please read and sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/governor-asa-hutchinson-stop-mass-execution-in-arkansas

The petition needs signatures urgently as the story has not become very widespread.  Today's excellent leading article in the Irish Times might give it some impetus.

Thanks to all who support the petition



 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Torture in Turkish prisons


Letter to Ambassador in Dublin:


To: Ambassador Levent Murat BURHAN

Embassy of Turkey
8 Raglan Road , Dublin 4


Dear Ambassador

Just read a report about the torture of prisoners in Turkey and it has shocked me.

According to the report, on 23 January, the prison’s vice-director raided a 5-person dormitory together with a group of 20 wardens and tortured prisoners Sahin Encu, Kemal Kahraman, Hakan Bilekci, Ahmet Celik and Ozhan Ceyhun, who were then exiled to separate prisons.

Prison wardens were told over the tannoy to remain in their positions in the evening. That night the vice-director and around 20 wardens raided the dormitory. Referring to an infamous torturer he told them ‘I am going to be your Esat Oktay. You must defer to me. I am the God here,'”

The prisoners were initially beaten in front of cameras. The 5 prisoners were taken to an area underneath the stairwell and beaten severely.
It was  also reported that the prisoners had been thrown in isolation cells following the torture, with some suffering concussion. They were taken to the local hospital but doctors refused to give them medical reports confirming the torture.


Turkey’s Human Rights Association had previously released a report in October detailing hundreds of cases of torture and human rights violations between 15 July and 15 October.

The comparison made by the vice-director with Esat Oktay Yildiran is sinister.

Esat Oktay Yildiran was the infamous torturer in the 1980s decade whose torture of Kurdish and leftist prisoners led to the death of more than 30 such prisoners between 1981-84.

I would ask you as a human being to ensure that no more torture takes place in Turkey and that Sahin Encu, Kemal Kahraman, Hakan Bilekci, Ahmet Celik and Ozhan Ceyhun are given proper hospital treatment and are never again molested by prison officers or others; and that all prisoners are treated humanely while in custody, given fair trials promptly and released when they have been tried  by a fair and impartial tribunal and are found not guilty of crimesl.

Sincerely yours
Justin Morahan
Pacifist, Human Rights Activist
Dublin 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Wanton Cruelty to Pigs

Whether or not we eat pork or animal meat we cannot but be horrified by the wanton cruelty displayed on some "pig farms" toward these helpless animals.

Not only are the pigs that are destined for slaughter trampled on, beaten in confined spaces and generally treated with sadistic brutality, even the piglets suffer the same fate.  Mother sows, unable to turn in their hellish "gestation crates", lie unintentionally on their farrow who desperately want to suckle on the hidden nipples.

Without any pain controlling drugs, pigs of all ages have their tails cut off and their testicles ripped out as they scream in agony.

Can anything more horrible be imagined in the animal kingdom?  I cannot explain why men or women can engage in this vile practice without any compunction or sorrow. 

A brave undercover journalist has laid bare the shocking truth about the fate of these gentle creatures where no eyes can generally see them.

This is a human rights blog first but as someone said to me "Most humans can express themselves and speak out against injustice shown them but animals are voiceless".

In the hope that someone will see this horror show and change their attitude to the rights of animals, I am appending here the YouTube video courtesy of PETA.

https://youtu.be/QrOB8DsxLMI

Saturday, 21 January 2017

US: Horrific Jail Experience for Death Penalty Protestors

On Tuesday, Jan. 17th, 18 people climbed the steps of the US Supreme Court and unfurled a huge banner that read “Stop Executions”.  They dropped red and yellow roses all over the steps (representing all the executed and their victims). Hundreds of supporters watched and sang as the police arrested them.

The group included leaders and ministers from Black Lives Matters, Sojourners and Red Letter Christians, as well as the anti-death penalty leaders, including members of “Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation,” people whose loved ones were killed but are against the death penalty.

"Though the action was beautiful, we paid for it dearly" says John Dear SJ. "The police put the cuffs on as tight as possible, and we heard the commander say, “Put them through the system.” For me, the officer pulled my right hand back and pinched the nerve on my thumb deliberately; I was sure he was going to break my hand. We thought another friend did have his hand and shoulder broken, so he was hospitalized. We were chained by the ankles, waists and behind our backs most of the time, and it was very painful. During our two horrific days in chains and jail, we had very little water, and for me, two pieces of wonder bread".

"On Tuesday night, (writes Dear) "we were put into very tiny cells with steel metal to lie on and bright lights on us. Once you lay down, you were covered in cockroaches. Not one person in the group slept and we each went through an unexpected, terrible ordeal. (Several of us, for example, were nauseous the entire time.)

On Wednesday, we were moved into the main cells of the courthouse, all chained together—ankles, waists, and wrists--and there met hundreds of guys awaiting court. We were arraigned at 5 p.m. on Wednesday night, pled guilty, and face sixty days in prison and a $5000 fine. The government is clearly going after us. We have a court hearing in late February, but we will work to put the death penalty on trial sometime in the Spring".

These awful conditions in US jails and the inhuman treatment meted out to non-violent protestors have nothing directly to do with Trump or Obama although these particular horrors took place under Obama's watch. The District of Columbia is responsible for the upkeep and conditions of its jail which has a shocking history.

For coverage of the protest itself see  www.law.com
 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Chelsea Manning will be free on Friday 17 May


The good news has come, through the Guardian Services, that whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be free on 17 May this year.

Three days before the end of his presidency, Barack Obama has commuted the bulk of her 35 year sentence meaning that she will have served seven years on her release

According to the Guardian, "Nancy Hollander, Manning’s lawyer, spoke to the Guardian before she had even had the chance to pass on to the soldier the news of her release. “Oh my God!” was Hollander’s instant response to the news which she had just heard from the White House counsel. “I cannot believe it – in 120 days she will be free and it will all be over. It’s incredible.” "

My heartfelt congratulations to Chelsea, to her mother and family in Wales, and to all who joined in the struggle to have her released.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/17/chelsea-manning-sentence-commuted-barack-obama

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Apollo House Struggle Continues

The death of a much loved brother, Leo, on Christmas Day meant that I was unable to keep track of events at Apollo House.  Leo had dispensed with the clerical title from his name Fr Leo Morahan about sixty years ago and since then has been known as Leo or Leon.  For eight years we  worked together in the priesthood until I parted company with church and religion. Since then Leo supported my every action, however different, while he himself remained firmly within the fold.

The trauma of his (expected) death and its aftermath have left me out of touch. It was great then to learn of yesterday's march by Apollo House supporters to the Department of Finance in Dublin. They demand action on the housing crisis.  The government, embarrassed by the occupation and the widespread support for it,  had been giving lame excuses in the Dáil before Christmas.. The Department had, it appears, awarded this amount or that amount "to solve the housing crisis". Throwing money at a problem has been common since Mary Harney's time.The idea is to allocate money while continuing with the austerity programme.  It is literally a passing of the buck. "We have put money into the equation; run off now and attack someone else".

Any government worth its salt knows that the housing crisis demands immediate hands-on action.  In the face of enormous odds, Home Sweet Home and the Apollo House occupiers took that action. The march on a bitterly cold January day with over 700 supporters (my own estimate) means that they are alive and well, full of verve and intent.

January 11 is approaching.  The prospect of residents being flung out of their comfortable home is looming. I hope this doesn't happen.

Meanwhile hats off to Home Sweet Home, the Apollo House occupiers and volunteers and to the homeless both inside and ouside that building.