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 bee 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.