Friday, 7 June 2019

At the Trump Protest last night in Dublin

I'm very happy that the truth-telling of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange and their treatment by the Trump administration are high-lighted in a fine article in Counter Punch.

I am not happy with what I regard as a vulgar caricature of Donald Trump at the top of the article.

Last night I attended the protest in Dublin and decided to pick on some of the issues that would not be mentioned elsewhere. So my placard had US misuse of Shannon  airport  at the top and then Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and the Kings Bay Seven (in that order).

In the middle of the speeches I noticed a couple with red Trump-like caps holding small US flags and decided to approach them.  Welcoming them to Ireland I remarked that we appeared to have different points of view and they replied that they were supporters of President Trump.

As they were looking at my placard it gave me an unexpected opportunity to explain the headings there. From the platform they had heard many mentions of Shannon and asked me what Shannon meant and why it was a matter of controversy. They listened patiently while I told them that it was a civilian Irish airport through which a quarter of a million US troops had passed in the last five years alone and that at present they were aiding US backed wars in Yemen and elsewhere.

"But Manning is free now isn't he" (sic), one of them asked, looking at the second item on the placard.  Again, with patience and respect they listened as I informed them that Chelsea had been returned to prison because she had refused as a matter of principle to testify against her fellow whistle-blower, Julian Assange.

Needless to say they believed that Julian Assange was still in the Ecuadorian embassy and were shocked to hear that he was in Belmarsh prison having been dragged out of the Embassy and sentenced to twelve months and that he was waiting to be be extradited to the US to face felony charges and a long prison sentence.

I was delighted when they asked me what did Free the Kings Bay Seven mean. They didn't know that Kings Bay was a nuclear submarine base in Georgia USA or the extent of the nuclear capabilities which it controls there.

Again they listened without hostility as I told them that on 4 Aprl 2018, commemorating Martin Luther King, seven conscientious people, Liz McAlister, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy, Carmen Trotta, Fr Steve Kelly, Mark Colville and Patrick O'Neill, totally opposed to nuclear weapons and war, entered the base, symbolically disabled a missile, poured a little of their own blood around, put up some notices and said prayers until they were arrested.  Four are still in prison (after 15 months) awaiting trial; the other three are on bail, with ankle monitors.  I believe they were genuinely shocked at these last revelations.

We parted as good friends - both of them offering me their hands to shake not once but twice and I renewing my good wishes for their happy sojourn in Ireland for the rest of their holiday.

Again the ugly effigy of "baby" Trump floating above the Dublin platform was as offensive to me as it was to them.  As someone who has spent much of my time countering bullying, I regard name-calling and offensive pictures and effigies of individuals as part of that genre. If we could stick to basic issues as Lawrence Davidson has done in his Counter Punch article, the results, in my opinion, would be far more powerful and effective.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Protest letter to UK Ambassador re Julian Assange

Dear Ambassador

Further to my telephone call to your Embassy earlier today I wish to state my support for the protest by my friends outside the Embassy in solidarity with Julian Assange.

Because of a hospital appointment I was unable to join them.

Now I add my own voice to theirs.  It is shameful and reprehensible, unworthy and indefensible, that the British State has jailed this whistleblower for telling the truth.

It is even more despicable that you are willing to extradite him to a country whose lies and murders during the Iraq war he has exposed.

Your country under Mr Tony Blair incited a coalition of deluded governments to wage that war under false pretences. Your Prime Minister lied to the world stating that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The unspeakable horror of "Shock and Awe" ensued; a beautiful country was devastated, a puppet government installed and another monster named ISIS was born. The US and UK created the Iraq war. The Iraq war created ISIS.

At that time there was no Julian Assange to uncover the lies that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the maiming in body and mind of possibly twice that number, and the untold millions of their relatives who have suffered collateral damage as a result of that same war in Iraq.

The United Kingdom should be ashamed because of the major role it played in that ruthless devastation of a people. Ireland too should be ashamed because of its spineless support for it,  - by facilitating the passage of armed US troops through our civilian Shannon airport. 

It might be expected that the liar states who promoted and supported that war would try to make some compensation to the victims when the truth of their perfidy was made known to them,

Instead, they compound their wrongdoing by jailing the truth tellers.

It is a spectacle of two powerful bullies leading collaborators and onlookers in strangling the truth. It  is so overwhelmingly disgusting that it should be immortalised in art.

I totally reject the comment of sentencing Judge Deborah Taylor that Julian Assange exploited what she called his "privileged position" to flout the law and advertise internationally his disdain for the law of the UK. 

Such a vacuous comment could come only from someone enjoying the overweening position of a sentencing judge looking down in disdain from the privileged Bench. The suggestion that seven years of confinement in an embassy is a privilege takes some beating for arrogance and disdain.

Shame on the UK, shame on the USA, shame on the coalition of the willing and shame on Ireland.

Cheating and lying politicians come ten a penny.  They are remembered with infamy. Principled whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Mordechai Vanunu and Aaron Schwartz will always be scarce as gold.


At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan
Human rights activist, pacifist

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Julian Assange arrested this morning and Evicted from Ecuador Embassy

The arrest of Julian Assange and his forcible eviction from the Embassy of Ecuador in London is a sad milestone in the history of a brave whistleblower.

There was an unnecessary show of force by the British authorities and a virtual swarming of the embassy - to arrest a nonviolent whistleblower.

Julian practised the classic nonviolent resistance action of refusing to leave voluntarily and had to be forced to leave

We will no doubt go through the mockery of a bail trial followed by a trial for extradition to the United States.

This distressing episode casts further shame on the United States, the Ecuadorian President and the United Kingdom.

It is horrifying news and Julian needs our support now more than ever

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Cruel Farce of Irish Justice System Continues against US Peace Veterans

Photo credit: Veterans for Peace Ireland

Veterans for Peace Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers spent 13 days in Limerick prison for trying to inspect a US plane at Shannon airport last St Patrick's Day.

In Ennis District at that time they were denied bail. A Garda told the judge they might be a flight risk.

The banner in the picture above tells clearly what their message to the Irish people is:

They had to travel from Limerick prison to Dublin's Cloverhill courthouse last week in what became a successful effort to get the High Court to grant them bail.

But even in the High Court they were refused permission to return to their homes in the United States while their case was being processed in Ireland.

The prosecuting Garda again thought they might be a flight risk.

Other peace activists here have found to their cost that the Irish justice process can take years.

It takes only one word from a prosecuting Garda for a judge to make the draconian decision that one is denied bail or cannot leave the jurisdiction.

Yesterday, back in Ennis, Judge Patrick Durcan mentioned the word "jurisdiction" but no sooner had the word come out of his mouth than the Garda prosecutor advised him "We haven't got to that stage yet Judge".  The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wasn't yet ready, he said.

When "jurisdiction" was mentioned by the judge we hoped he might be thinking of transferring the case to the Circuit court.

But the Garda intervention meant that Ken and Tarak must now twiddle their thumbs in Ireland until the DPP prepares her massive case against them: trespass and criminal damage (to the fence).  Their next date with the court is 3 May.

I have sat through similar cases in Irish courts relating to charges against the 5 Pitstop Ploughshare defendants and, separately, Mary Kelly.

In the case of the Pitstop Ploughshares, we all found out why there had been such a long delay with the proceedings.  Even though they had admitted going through the fence, cutting the wires and, in their case, (unlike Ken and Tarak) damaging a plane, the prosecution found it necessary to commission monstrous maps to show the jury the layout of the airport.  The jury members found it hard to open the maps, they were so big.  But the Senior and Junior Counsels had great fun pointing to them and talking about them.  They proved that these people really had done what they had already admitted doing.

Now, many years later, no use for Tarak and Ken to give their word of honour to each and every court that they wanted to return for trial and would so return. 

No.  They must wait for the Irish justice system to lumber on like the cruel farce that it is and keep them waiting, waiting, waiting, far from their loved ones - because they dared to call  on the Irish government in a dramatic way to respect Irish neutrality and stop letting US war machines pass through Shannon airport. 

Such war machines have been known to wreak havoc on children, women and men, in places like Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. 

These brave peace protesters want to end all of such havoc and bring peace to our world.

However, the DPP must think long and hard over the next month on how to present her evidence to the court.  She will spend much of that time, no doubt, weighing the high motives and principles of these two peace activists against the shocking "crimes" of "trespass" and damage to a wire fence in a field in Ireland that the State assesses at €2500.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Inhuman cruel Brunei laws of Stoning to Death Condemned

As 3 April 2019 approaches, gays are fleeing Brunei.

The Sultan head of State there is enforcing sharia law as from that date.  From 3 April in Brunei you can be stoned or flogged to death for being LGBT or for adultery, especially if you are a woman.

Other repulsive aspects of sharia law such as amputation of limbs will also have force of law.

Yesterday, the United Nations decried the new “cruel and inhuman” laws "set to take effect in Brunei this week which impose death by stoning for gay sex and adultery, and amputations for theft".

As soon as the announcement was made, George Clooney and Elton John called for a renewed boycott of all Brunei-owned hotels. Elton John tweeted a list.
        Here are the hotels to boycott
        The Dorchester, London
        45 Park Lane, London
        Coworth Park, UK
        The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
        Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
        Le Meurice, Paris
        Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
        Hotel Eden, Rome
        Hotel Principe di Savoia, Mi
Elton xx

Maybe like me you won't be able to afford any of them but you might have rich friends whom you can influence to stay away.

The brutal, misogynistic, barbaric  violence being sanctioned by this tyrant of Brunei cry out for some kind of action that will damage the Sultan's wealth.

It is indeed a pitiful response compared to the fearful injustice of taking a precious life in Brunei in such a monstrous manner.

But it is a human response for our brothers and sisters - and maybe our weakness may yet be our strength.