Monday, 3 December 2012

Letter to Atorney General Chris Koster of Missouri

This morning I got good news and bad news from the Innocence Project.   

 George Allen Jr. was released from a Missouri courthouse earlier this month after serving more than 30 years for a rape and murder that previously undisclosed evidence shows he didn’t commit. Judge Daniel Green overturned Allen’s 1982 rape and murder conviction based on police failure to disclose evidence pointing to his innocence and ordered Allen’s release. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced that she will not retry Allen for the crime, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a meritless appeal to a state intermediate appeals court, which is only serving to further delay justice for Allen.

Having looked up Chris Koster's website I was pleased to find an  e-mail contact:

My e-mail to him was returned however, unread. So I am hoping that he will now be able to read it here when one of his helpers Googles his name for news.

Letter to Chris Koster

Dear Chris

I read with horror the case of George Allen recently released after 30 years of unjust imprisonment in your State.

It beggars belief that officers used every trick of their trade to get false confessions from this man, false confessions that have now been discredited but which have kept him as a prisoner for all of those years.

What an outrage for any human being to be deprived of his liberty for a crime that he did not commit.

How terrible to think that this human being could have been murdered by the State through the connivance of its officers only for a juror's unexpected and enforced absence rendered the sentence of death impossible on the day.

DNA has been the ace that has has shown up all the false convictions that have taken place throughout the United States over many years on people who were often inadequate poor black or from poorer strata of society.

I am amazed and horrified to learn that, in spite of all the new evidence pointing to a gross miscarriage of justice against George Allen, you, Chris, have decided to appeal the decision to release him and so put him through further torment with the courts.

I appeal to you to reverse this decision.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan 
Human rights activist

Netanyahu a War Criminal says Nobel Peace Laureate

Calls for Boycott,Divestment, Sanctions
Summary: In a speech delivered in Belfast on 24 October 2012, Mairead Maguire declared that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Premier, is a war criminal. She also criticised Obama's stance on Israel, and the media's lies; and she called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel

The following is the full text of her speech

"Hello Everybody, I would like to thank the Irish congress of Trade Unions and all the other organisations for inviting me to speak today and for organising this rally and I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming along today. We heard that the ceasefire has been declared but we know that this is not the end of the siege of Gaza or the occupation of the people of Palestine. We witnessed yet again on our television sets this week inhumanity that we cannot believe is allowed to exist. It was called 'self-defence'. But how can you call self-defence the massacre of women and children in Gaza and the destruction of their infrastructure, this is a war, these are crimes against humanity, we declare that Netanyahu is a war criminal and we can do something about this.

We can ensure that when any of the Israeli leaderships such as, Perez, Netanyahu and their military war executive, try to leave their country and come to any civilized country, we as the people will issue our own indictments of war crimes. We as the people have to stand up for human rights, for international law, for democracy, for a future for our world, because if we don't do this, our world will plunge into war and to destruction and to barbarity and we will not have such a thing as a civil or political or religious liberty or right. We elect politicians to serve the people, to stand up for our right to food, education, safety and security.

Obama's dismal failure

Our politicians are failing us dismally; we have no real political leadership with any moral courage in our world today. We supported Obama when he came in and said 'there is a new way'. President Obama stood in Burma this week and he said: ' There is no excuse for violence against innocent people', what was his message about the violence against the people of Gaza? What has his message been about the violence, occupation,destruction, persecution, apartheid regime against the Palestinian people for the last 60 years? His message was (and the minutes are available from the White house two weeks ago) ' We will uphold Israel’s right to self-defence and anybody who questions that, we will not accept'.

What kind of political leadership is that to our people in the world today? The biggest block to real change is not Israel but the United States of America continually vetoing and supporting the murder of children in Gaza and war against civilians.

What Israel is about

We have to know what Israel is about. Jimmy Carter gave an interview last week, and in this interview Jimmy Carter said the policy of the Israeli government is to confiscate Palestinian land. The policy of the Israeli government is to take more and more Palestinian land, they want a greater Israel and not only do they want a greater Israel, they want the 20% of the Arab people who live within Israel proper to acknowledge Israel as a 'Jewish state'. They want a Jewish state for a Jewish people. When do they think we're living? Do they think we're living in the dark ages? Every person has a right to their statehood. Every person has a right to their freedom, a right to dignity. But it's about the land stupid, it's about the land as Bill Clinton would say, it's about the territory stupid. Let's wake up, this is not about Hamas, this is not about the fact that Israel has no partner for peace. I sat with Yasser Arafat in his little compound before he was killed and he cried out for peace. I sat in Gaza with Hamas in 2008 and they cried out for peace. What was Israel's answer? Israel's answer was war against them, and not only dropping one or two bombs but the policy of the Israeli government, and look it up, is that when they go to war, they do the utmost damage. They don't kill one or two, they destroy a people.


There's a new concept available now, it's called 'Sociocide', you know our Philosophers and our Professors, too many of them who sit behind university walls, if it’s not going out to new links with other universities so they can get more money for military experiments. Sociocide means another country destroys a people’s whole ability to live - and this is what’s happening in Gaza. The Gazan people: their identities are being destroyed as Palestinians, their country is being destroyed as Palestine, their children are being killed, their spirit is being dampened, they're being demonised by the Israelis as if they were nothing. Who are the Palestinians? The Israelis created another lie in 1948 when they said they went to 'a land without people', they went to a land that was full of the very best of people, good people, kind people, people who opened their hearts to them coming in, in 1948, people who gave them homes and supported them and what did the Israelis do? What did the Zionists do? In 1948, they cleared over 400 Palestinian villages, putting the people out of their homes. The Palestinians had to flee their land, this was 'The Nakba' of the Palestinian people. It was genocide as important as the genocide of the Holocaust. I've been to Auschwitz, I am not an Anti-Semite. I've been to Auschwitz, I've seen the suffering and in Auschwitz I swore the next time I saw people suffering like this I would not remain silent and we must not remain silent.

We must stand up against Israeli aggression

It is a myth that The Nakba and the ethnic cleansing that went on in 1948 by the Israeli's is over. It's happening today as we stand. The Israelis are clearing villages in the Negev desert so they can take over the very best of Palestinian land. We must up stand up against this. This is not acceptable and we're not powerless. We're not powerless, the people of Northern Ireland, no they're not powerless because we know what it's like for bombings and shootings and killings and fear and division. And we stood up and we said this is not acceptable. So the people of Israel and Palestine together can stop this. They have to do it, because the world leaders are not going to do it. The people have to do it and do it together, because Israeli's too are suffering.

Boycott, Divest, Sanction

We must support the Israeli Peace Activists. They are on a hard road but their message is right. Their message is non-violence, dialogue and solving this problem. It's not who will start this problem; it's who will end it. Boycott all Israeli goods. Boycott Israel and the companies that trade with them. Divest from Israel and the countries that support Israel. We must applaud the Co-op, because the Co-op, one of the first retailers has come out with a very strong Boycott campaign and we send out from this platform our thanks to the Co-op and we implore more and more to follow their example. But, you know, also sanctions, sanctions against the arms that are flowing into Israel. We must say to America, you are breaking your own laws because every day you have 8 million dollars going to support the militarism of Israel. They are being used illegally by Israel and America has to stop this. Europe too has a lot of work, Europe funds Israel, Israel gets more money out of the European kitty - and that's our money - to do military research so it can remain a nuclear weapons country with the fourth biggest army in the world.

We're paying for that, so they use these to destroy a country and destroy the buildings that our tax money built in Gaza. This is not acceptable.

Lies from the Media

I thank you all for coming. We are powerful but the most important thing, our greatest enemy is cowardice, our greatest enemy are those who refuse to speak the truth because of their own fear. Our greatest enemies are people like the BBC and the media who tell lies about what is happening . Where are the media reporting exactly what is happening? We demand, we're paying tax, we're paying our license and we want the truth. Thank you very much for all you’re doing. There's great hope because I have met with the Israeli activists and I have met with the Palestinian people and witnessed their message of non-violence, Palestine has a great non-violence movement, tragically a lot of them are in Israeli prisons. So we together can solve this and help our Palestinian people. We did it in Northern Ireland and we are a model. People said it couldn't be done, we said it will not be done through militarism, arm struggle and violence. It will be done with truth and courage and love and forgiveness and we can do it. That's our message to the Israeli and Palestinian people. You can do it another way.''

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Protests over Shannon airport continue

Every second Sunday of the month there is a protest at Shannon airport against the misuse of the airport by US troops and possibly drones on their way to war in Afghanistan.

Usually the group assemble, show their posters and leave after an hour.

On Sunday, 7 September 2012 however, Margaretta Darcy and Niall Farrell of Galway Against the War brought their protest to the runway.  It was the eleventh anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan

Shannonwatch tells the full story with video by Tommy D.

In May 2012 at the Shannon protest I was detained along with Edward Horgan and John Maguire and put in the back of a Garda van.  Below is Shannonwatch's account:
Prisoners at Shannon Airport - Edward Horgan and Justin Morahan in a Garda van following their detention for displaying a banner saying "US Troops Out of Shannon"
John Maguire detainee at Shannon for carrying a flag with the word "PEACE"

Three peace activists were detained by Gardai at Shannon Airport today for displaying signs saying "Peace" and "US Troops Out Of Shannon". After being removed from the airport they joined the regular second Sunday of the month vigil which took place from 2pm to 3pm outside the

Monday, 20 August 2012

Full Text of Julian Assange's Balcony Address

Here is the full text of the now famous address from the Balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

"I am here today because I cannot be there with you today, but thank you for coming. Thank you for your resolve, your generosity of spirit.

On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, and police descended on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the world’s eyes with you.
Inside the embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape. But I knew that there would be witnesses and that is because of you.

If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Convention the other night, it is because the world was watching and the world was watching because you were watching.

So, the next time somebody tells you that it's pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the embassy of Ecuador.
Remind them how in the morning the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.

And so, to those brave people, I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and in granting me political asylum. And I also thank the government, and in particular Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, who  upheld the Ecuadorian Constitution and its notion of universal citizenship in their consideration of my asylum.

And to the Ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this Constitution.

And I also have a debt of gratitude to the staff of this Embassy, whose families live in London, and who have been showing me hospitality and kindness despite the threats we all receive.

This Friday there will be an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of Latin America in Washington, DC, to address this very situation. And so I am grateful to those people and governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela and to all other Latin American countries who have come out to defend the right to asylum.

To the people of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia, who have supported me in strength, even when their governments have not,  and to those wiser heads in government who are still fighting for justice: Your day will come.

To the staff, supporters and sources of WikiLeaks, whose courage and commitment and loyalty has seen no equal.

To my family and to my children, who have been denied their father. Forgive me. We will be reunited soon.

As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression, and the health of our societies. We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America.

Will it return to and reaffirm the values - the revolutionary values - it was founded on?   Or will it lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world, in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark?

I say it must turn back.

I ask President Obama to do the right thing.

The United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks.

The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.

The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.

The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.

There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or be it the New York Times.

The US administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.

Thomas Drake, and William Binney, and John Kiriakou and the other heroic US whistleblowers must — they must be pardoned and compensated for the hardships they’ve endured as servants of the public record.

And the Army Private who remains in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, who was found by the United Nations to have endured months of torturous detention in Quantico, Virginia, and who has yet — after two years in prison — to see a trial—he must be released. Bradley Manning must be released. If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and an example to all of us and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners. Bradley Manning must be released.
On Wednesday, Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days.

On Thursday, my friend, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Human Rights Center, was sentenced to 3 years for a tweet.

On Friday, a Russian band was sentenced to 2 years in jail for a political performance.

There is unity in the oppression.

There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.

Thank you."

Monday, 13 August 2012

Mairead Maguire calls for the release of Marian Price

category international | rights and freedoms | news report author Monday August 13, 2012 23:51author by Justin Morahan
Nobel Laureate sends strong letter to Secretary of State Paterson
(Summary: Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire states in an open letter to Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that Marian Price is seriously ill and on these ground and the grounds of justice she should be released immediately from her illegal imprisonment.)
The following is an OPEN LETTER from Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire to British Secreatary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Owen Paterson:

Dear Mr.Paterson,


I write to you regarding the continued immoral and illegal internment of Marian Price. As you are well aware Marian has spent over fourteen months, in prison, twelve of which were spent in forced isolation, and she is at present seriously ill and held under armed guard in an isolated hospital ward.

This treatment is cruel and inhumane and amounts to torture as the words of the UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez on torture states: “indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should be subject to an absolute prohibition”.

The illegal detention of Marian Price for political offences committed nearly forty years ago, and for which she was pardoned, is a serious violation of her human rights, a blank disregard for due process and a violation of our ‘the Good Friday Agreement’.

Unanimous medical opinions confirm Marian Price is unable to participate in any legal Proceedings due to her rapidly deteriorating health and as this is the case, and also in the interests of truth and justice, I write to request that this seriously ill women be released immediately to her family.

Yours sincerely,

Mairead Maguire
13th August, 2012

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Katie Taylor Wins Gold

I am totally opposed to the sport of boxing because of the danger to the human body.

When Muhammed Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, boxed Sonny Liston I got up in the middle of the night to listen to the broadcast on radio.  It was exciting - too exciting - and I got a thrill out of Ali's win.  But Ali got seriously damaged by boxing.

I congratulate Katie Taylor who has just won her gold medal in the Olympics.

In spite of my opposition to boxing, my congratulations are full and wholehearted.

Like most other people in Ireland, I got a thrill out of her win - in spite of my best instincts.  I am happy for her moment of glory . I share in it.

But that ends my interest in Katie's boxing skills and achievements.

What I sincerely wish for her now is that she quits boxing before any long term damage is done to her or before she does any long-term damage to an opponent.

I wish her many years of happiness and joy throughout her life.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Hiroshima Remembered

Kengo the fireman
was on his bicycle
crossing Kannon bridge
in Hiroshima
it was around 8.17 a.m.           tokei
we know because
his watch stopped
and is still to be seen
on the internet

Kengo jumped into the river
burning badly
then got home to burn-die
with 200,000 others

there was
no war on terror declared
no outcry in the west
no hunt for the perpetrators
no day of mourning in Ireland
no laying waste of the country
that harboured
and sheltered
the criminals
no search for lice
in Truman's hair
no search for weapons
of mass destruction

there were only shouts
of victory
lame excuses
honour received
and a fake
moral high ground

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Women in the Priesthood

I was once  a believer and a Catholic priest.  Then I lost belief.  This fact, in my humble opinion, should not deter me from speaking my mind on matters within the organisation of which I once was a member - a privileged member at that.

If I were still within the fold I would be very very angry at many developments there at present.  In particular, I would be angry at the present Pope Benedict XVI and his immediate predecessor, John Paul II.  These two men turned back the clock of reform that had been installed by Pope John XXIII, the man who opened the windows to let fresh air into the Church..

Although a "conservative" Catholic in many respects, John XXIII was more concerned with the humanity and love he could foster and  instil in the human spirit than he was with "binding heavy and insupportable burdens and placing them on the shoulders of others". He called an ecumenical council to sidestep the stifling of the Vatican by doctrinaire and pompous Curial civil servants who had appropriated power to themselves.  The first session met on 11 October 1962 and ended in December.  In that short period there had been a revolution of thought and action in the Church.  Pope John XXIII died before the next session began.  With him died the steel and iron of purpose to open the windows of the Vatican.  But the road to which he pointed could never die in the minds of millions whom he had inspired by his goodness.

Pope Paul VI re-convened the Council in 1963.  He vacillated on many questions, but ultimately several Council documents and decrees were ratified and published. Many minor reforms were incorporated in these, especially with regard to the liturgy.  The larger questions were not dealt with.  Paul continued to outlaw contraception in an encyclical, Humanae Vitae.  The ban on the ordination of women to the priesthood was continued.  Priests were forbidden to marry and condemned if they left the priesthood.  In Paul's time the internal workings of the Vatican went from bad to worse.  The Vatican was in close contact with high and important members of the Mafia.  Its Bank laundered money for them and even dealt in contraceptives for profit!  When Paul died, he left a corrupt and divided Church behind him.

For thirty three days the Pope who succeeded him looked like a man inspired.  The smiling Pope who took the double-barrelled name of John Paul the First was humane and just and strong.  His campaign to clean up the unholy mess in the Vatican’s finances ended when he died suddenly on his bed, most probably poisoned.  His death was never investigated in the Vatican.  An extensive account of what had happened to this good man by investigative journalist David Yallop was dismissed by the Vatican as utter rubbish.  Yallop believed he had been purposely poisoned at the behest of the highest Vatican officials in order to stop the reforms that would expose their own wrongdoing.  Lies were broadcast to the world about the time and place of the finding of  his body.  His secretary and nurse, both of whom knew the truth, were made to swear that they would remain silent.  The death or murder of this good man was hushed up.

John Paul the First was succeeded by a man who took the same name, John Paul II.  Never was a name more inappropriate to Karl Wojtyla.  He took the name  but did not investigate the untimely death of the good man whose name he took.

John Paul II remained as Pope for nearly 27 years.  Corruption in the Vatican and in the Church was not addressed.  Instead this strong-minded man travelled the world to  try to bring Catholics into line with his own thinking on orthodoxy.  Voices of questioning or dissent were silenced.The notion  of Women priests was outlawed on theological grounds as was the notion of married priests (except as converts).

Benedict XVI has now been Pope for over seven years and has continued the policy of his predecessor in these three respects: No married priests, no dissent of any kind and NO WOMEN PRIESTS.

These three pillars of the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI sit uneasily with the scandals that have erupted and have not been repented of within the Church during those same two pontificates.

Of course there should be women priests.  Priesthood confers material as well as spiritual privileges - including the power to influence world events far beyond the confines of the Catholic Church.  To deprive about half of the world's population of the right to aspire to these powers is a scandal, unjust, wrong, inexcusable, criminal.
Those who deny these women's rights are men.  The reasons put forward are specious and indefensible.

The behaviour of John Paul II and Benedict XVI affect all of us whether or not we are in the Church or outside of it.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mairead Maguire Report from Kinshasa on Rape - full text

Below is the full text of Mairead Maguire's account of her Visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with Ann Patterson for launch of Anti-Rape in Conflict (War) Campaign:

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative.
(8th May – 14th May, 2012)

(Julienne Lusange, Sofepadi, at launch of Stop Rape in conflict Campaign, Kinshasa, DRC. 11th May, 2012).
Invitation and Visit to Kinshasa

On 8th May, 2012, Ann Patterson and I travelled to the Kinshasa, in DRC, to join Yee Htun, Co-ordinator of the Nobel Womens Initiative International Campaign to Stop Rape in Conflict, and help launch the International campaign, to ‘Stop rape in Conflict’. This was being launched simultaneously in four Countries: Colombia, Kenya, Burma and the DRC in May, 2012.

We had been invited to DRC by Julienne Lusenge of SOFEPADI, an NGO Organization working to support survivors of Rape in conflict, to be present at the International Launch of DRC Campaign in Kinshasa on 11th May, 2012. (Julienne is also a member of the Advisory Board of the International Campaign and we had the pleasure of meeting her several times in Europe).

Meetings with President and Others 

During the week we met in the Parliament, with the President of the DRC Parliament. Also the Ministry of Justice officials, the Minister of Gender, and Several other Government officials. We also had meetings with the Canadian Ambassador, and in MONUSCO (UN) headquarters we met with the Heads of the UN’s campaign to Stop Rape and gender violence. We were accompanied to these meetings by several Congolese women, who were themselves survivors of Rape in conflict and also by Julienne Lusenge of SOFEPADI and Josee Ngalula of Fods Pour Les Femmes Congolaises (FFC) who facilitated the meetings. 

President visibly Moved by Women's Stories of Rape 

The meeting with the President of the DRC Parliament was very moving. The President listened closely whilst the two survivors of rape (Mawa and Leoni) told their stories. He was visibly moved when the women said they were raped by armed Government soldiers, and one of the womens daughters (14) was also raped. They asked for compensation and protection from the armed soldiers. The President promised to appoint a lawyer to follow up their cases. The President said war has is roots in conflict in East Congo in mining and minerals, where armed gangs, rebels, foreign groups, are all in conflict, so the problem is deeply complex. However, he said, the Government is looking at ways of how to stop all kinds of violence and bring peace to DRC.

The Campaign ‘Stop Rape in Conflict’ was officially launched at the Carter Centre, in Kinshasa, on 11th May, 2012. Several women from the survivors group, who travelled a very long distance to be present attended, together with many local grass roots activists (at least 50% of attendees were men); foreign diplomats, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs, and the head of MONUSCO, etc.,

Julienne Lusenge's passionate appeal to stop rape

The launch was televised and received excellent press coverage from every news outlet in the DRC. Julienne Lusenge spoke passionately about the need to end rape and sexual violence, about an end to impunity, and she appealed to men to get involved in this important campaign as men are raped too. Julienne said ‘we people of the DRC must stop rape ourselves’. I made an appeal for an end to War, Rape, and all violence, more support for the survivors of Rape, and also more support for the grass roots organizations whose nonviolent work is so necessary. The stories of the two women survivors, who had been raped, moved many of the People in the room to tears. However, it was their dignity and courage which gave hope to us all that this horrific crime of rape can be stopped when enough people speak out and act to put an end to it and Government legislate again this and act on their responsibility to protect their women (and men) against such horrific and criminal abuse by their own Government soldiers, and others. 

The problem with DNA

One of the problems is that when women get pregnant after rape by DRC soldiers, they have no redress. They could be helped if the DRC Government and MONUSCO (UN) made their military, security, etc., accountable for their crime of rape, and this could be done if they held a DNA base for all security personnel. We were advised that MONUSCO do have a DNA base but currently it is not compulsory for their soldiers to comply with this. We believe this should be made compulsory and it would be one important step in protecting the women of DRC and other countries such as Haiti, where reports of rape by UN soldiers in refugee camps have taken place.

 Breaking the Silence Taboo 

Change can come when people have the courage to break the taboo and silence around this crime of rape. Telling their story helps survivors survive, but also helps others become aware that this is happening and act to stop it.
One woman survivor, with great courage and dignity told her story: She said that on lst January, 2010, army soldiers came into their village. They raped her and 50 women and brutalized a further 25 with sticks and weapons. They burned the village and left. She said the women got no medical care. Three days later Soldiers were brought to a Mobile Court and found guilty but they were released after only a few days to rejoin their military units. The soldier who had raped her, who had been charged and released, returned to the village and raped her 14 year old daughter. 

Rape victims deserted and stigmatised

At a Mobile Court, the women got Judgement in their favour but received no papers and as they cannot afford to pay for these papers, then they cannot apply for compensation. However, if they can get the paper stating the Judgement was in their favour they can get Government compensation and go back to their families in the village. They are often abandoned by their husbands after rape, and young unmarried girls are stigmatized and abandoned by their families.  

A Promise from Justice Ministry  

Another woman survivor, who works with a group of 200 survivors, said that none of the group, who had received judgement in their favour, ever got papers. Earlier that week when our delegation met with the Justice Ministry official, he promised they would take up these cases and provide papers for them and that in future papers would be provided free of charge. We considered this a very important commitment by the Justice Ministry and hope they will meet this commitment as soon as possible for the sake of the Survivors.

Dangers of Walking in Open Spaces

One of the women survivors said they have no transport and the villages are completely cut off and if, after rape and abuse women try to walk through the forests they can be attacked and raped again by Soldiers. The woman survivors told us that their villages are often a long way from a hospital, and as they have no one to look after their children they cannot leave them unprotected to go to hospital. She explained women and children suffer extreme trauma and there are few people trained to help them deal with this. 

Men often expel Raped Women from Family Home

After being raped by Government soldiers, men often put the women out of their homes so they have to go to shelters. There are few shelters available and homeless women and children in villages is an increasing daily problem. When asked what the Churches were doing to help, one of the survivors replied ‘they just tell us to pray’. Some people said that they feel the Churches should speak out on issues such as Rape and Sexual violence, but they are silent on the matter.

The Government  promised by Law retribution but because they cannot get paper of Judgement they cannot get retribution (the money would help get them back into family). While some women have started up small business enterprises, sadly many women cannot work because of abuse and several of the survivors appealed for Gynaecologists and Psychologists to come to their villages to help them in their healing and recovery.

Small glimmer of hope 

One of the most hopeful things is that as one man explained ‘ten years ago no one spoke of rape of women (and men) by Government soldiers and others, today it is being acknowledged and legislation and action being put in place to stop this crime of rape and sexual violence'.

There is no doubt that the three pillars of the International campaign to stop rape, - Prevention, Protection and Prosecution - are urgent and vital in the DRC.   But it will take a strong determination and real leadership to eradicate these problems, and also for the International community to see that much more funding is put in place to help DRC get to grips with the roots of this terrible suffering of their people.

Depressed State of Kinshasa

The UN, amongst others, are working in DRC to help stabilize a very volatile and dangerous situation as poverty, violence and war threaten the country. Ten million people live in Kinshasa.  Families are suffering as the Government has little money and most families can only afford one meal every other day! There is no money for teachers and for those lucky enough to attend school, their families have to find the money to pay the teachers. 

Downtown Kinshasa has dirt tracks for roads, and many burnout buildings testify to the violence and fear in these areas. With so many people unemployed and with a currently weak Government, this situation, unless helped, has the potential for more violence. Some people expressed their frustration at MONUSCO (UN) and felt they are not doing enough to help people on the ground, and that so much more could be done by them. 


Several people expressed their frustration as they believed that not enough of the International Aid from both UN Foreign Governments and others, gets to the grass-roots and to the people who are trying to deal with the problems on the ground. Activists also felt there was not enough communication and dialogue between Government/people, national and international NGO. etc., However, we felt we were able to open a very important channel of communication between the national and international NGO and more importantly give the survivors a voice during our presence in the DRC.

Need for Peace

More than anything, the DRC needs peace and an end to war, violence and poverty, the roots of many problems. I hope the International Community will increase its Development Aid to DRC (an important Country in Africa) and particularly focus on supporting local communities many of whom continue to non-violently solve their problems.

Elegance and Grace of Congolese Women

I left the DRC full of hope and inspiration which I got from its people. In spite of facing great challenges they are friendly and welcoming to the stranger and maintain a sense of community and love. My abiding and strongest image is of the elegance and beauty of the Congolese women. Their strong spirits and strength of character even in the face of great hardship, came shining through. I was amazed at the grace with which they moved - tall, unhurried and elegant, their long coloured dresses clinging to their slim bodies. I saw a gentleness and patience, seldom seen in the West where we are often impatient and always in a hurry!.

Men and Boys are Hard Working

In the sweltering heat of the hot sun, the men worked very hard, digging down the deep holes to lay the pipes and build the roads, and the young boys dug up stones to sell to the men, who come along to fill in the pot-holes. Buildings were going up and on the outskirts of Kinshasa, where we stayed, the Palm trees and tropical flowers reminded us of the beauty of the DRC and its people, and its great possibility and potential in this amazingly mineral-rich country on the Equator.


When Ann and I left, we took the people of the DRC in our hearts, and we look forward to returning someday when all violence and war ends, nonviolence has taken deep roots and it amazing people, like Julienne and her family and friends, see their dreams for a peaceful and just DRC comes true.

Mairead Maguire
Contact in DRC: Julienne Lusenge: Fonds pour les Femmes Congolaises:

Monday, 14 May 2012

Pictures from Stop Rape Initiative

From day 5 of the Nobel Women's Initiative to stop rape the following update has come in from Liz Bernstein (courtesy of Ann Patterson)

From: Liz Bernstein
Subject: [StopRapeCom] Update #IPLEDGE Day 5!
Date: Thursday, 10 May, 2012, 23:02

Hi ya'll, Can't believe how fast the Week of Action is going! 

We passed the 500 mark!!  Yeah !  As of today 500 organizations have joined - 505 at the time of this writing ! (can you tell I'm a bit addicted to our website live feed?)

And people in 117 countries!

Thanks for your support all ! 

Liz Bernstein
Executive Director
Tel:  +1 613 569-8400, ext. 111"

Friday, 11 May 2012

Two Palestinians near death on hunger strike

Two Palestinians, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh are near death on day 73 of their hunger strike against unjust administrative detention by Israel.  Both men allegedly express loyalty for the party called Islamic Jihad but they have not been charged.

Thaer Halahleh has been told he "could die any moment," by an Israeli prison doctor.

Despite his dire physical condition, he is mentally "still strong" according to a lawyer. Until very recently, Israel continued to deny him  necessary medical treatment.

Bilal Diab was arrested on 17 August 2011, at his home in the village of Kufr Ra’i, near Jenin, at 12:30 am. According to witnesses the family and a large group of friends and neighbours were sitting in the front yard, spending time together late into the night for Ramadan, when approximately 40 masked men, wearing civilian clothes, surrounded the house and entered the yard by climbing the walls of the neighbours’ houses.  Bilal’s brother, Issam, was thrown violently to the ground. His hands were shackled behind his back and then two soldiers stepped on his head.

Bilal and four of his friends were questioned for about 15 minutes. His four friends were then released, but Bilal was shackled, blindfolded and thrown to the ground. He was then dragged across the ground for 250 meters until reaching the military jeep. Bilal was taken to Megiddo prison, and then transferred to Salem Detention Centre for interrogation.

Since then he has been held "in administrative detention".

An Irish protest on behalf of the hunger strikers took place in Dublin yesterday. Tommy Donnelan's video of the event can be seen on this link

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Yesterday I was the Y in MISERY!

Tommy Donnelan's video tells the story of the big protest yesterday 9 May both outside and  inside the Cement Roadstone Holdings AGM in Dun Laoire.

To Ireland's everlasting shame, Cement Roadstone Holdings help Israel to build their Wall to separate Palestinians and steal their land for new Israeli settlers.

The message outside, held by a long line of protestors, read:
(In the video, I am holding the Y in "MISERY")

Across the road, CRH's own workers were also protesting against salary pay cuts of 20%.

Inside, three shareholders handed up the same message signed by 10,200 individuals.

When Huwaida Arraf made her point about the complicity of CRH in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity  she was told  that CRH had no control over the end-use of the cement.

Huwaida  responded that this was not good enough, "we would not accept that excuse from those who sold ovens and gas to the Nazis".

John Dorman who was the first shareholder to speak said that Huwaida's contribution silenced the room and left the top table with glum faces and nowhere to look, appearing deeply uncomfortable.

 A third speaker Fatene(?) from Hebron related her experiences  from that apartheid city and how her own family has been adversely affected by Israeli policies.

Tommy Donnelan's video on the morning's protets can be seen at video link

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

TRISTIS - A Short Story

(Written in 1997, recalled today after we left our much loved Tinkerbelle in the Vet's for overnight repairs.  A contribution to the Nobel Women's Initiative this week to stop the rape of women in conflict situations)



The rest of the litter was black and white - more white than black in fact. They were fluffier looking than he was – the convalescing James thought of the black kitten as a "he".
"Look, Mum!"
"What is it?"
"Look at the black kitten!"
"What about him?"
"He's different".
"Of course, he's different, he's black."
"I didn't mean that."
"What did you mean then?"
“I just meant that he was .... different,"

and Monica heard his voice trail away with a drop in pitch that said "It's not important, forget it."

Instead, he continued to stare at the black kitten himself. He had noticed that the little fellow was popular with all of his black and white sisters. (James thought of them as sisters.)

At different times one or other of them would search him out, and stare at him. He would accept the invitation to play, and they would tumble in the grass or run together after a blowing leaf. He had watched this scene for days as he convalesced and had always waited with a secret dread for the big tom-cat to appear at the end of the garden wall.

Once they became aware of him, the kittens all scampered to the shelter of an old door that lay longwise against the wall of the garden shed.

The tom-cat, big and grey and strong, then went to one end of the door. There was a pitiful sound of screeching from one of the kittens while all of the others tumbled headlong through the opening at the end near to James and hid themselves fearfully under the clematis.

All but one. For the unusual thing this morning was that the black kitten had turned back when he heard the screaming. The tom-cat left his quarry inside and chased out to get rid of the intruder. But the black kitten had humped his back, then hissed and spat.

The tom-cat pounced once, got scraped and moved away. Eventually, he scaled the wall, looking back only once with a sour puss, then disappeared from view.
By now, all of the five kittens were playing again; but James followed with his eye every action, every movement of the black. Monica opened a tin of cat food.
"You like the black fellow, I can see."
"I prefer the others myself."
"I know."
"What are you going to call him, then?"
"I don't know"
"Call him Felix."
"Why Felix?
"A lot of people call their cats Felix. It's a Latin word that means “happy.” We had a cat called Felix one time."
"What's the Latin word for sad?"
"I don't know. Why would you want to call him sad anyway?"
"I just do."
"Maybe your Dad might know."
"No, it's alright."
"Just because he doesn't like cats doesn't mean that he won't help you to name him. I'll ask him when he comes in."
Monica threw the empty can into a bin in the kitchen.

Sylvia was two years older than James. She came in the front door just now and threw her coat and schoolbag on a chair. Her cheeks were flushed slightly by the wind and rain. Her brunette shock of hair tousled just a little.
"Where's James?"
"Out with the kittens. Have something to eat, you must be hungry."
"I'll just have a Seven Up if we have one".
She went to the fridge, taking a look out the back as she opened the bottle and poured the drink. Then, as she started to sip, she went out to join her brother. Monica followed her through the open door.
"You'll need something to eat”.,

Her voice faltered a little. Without looking, Sylvia shook her head.
"Don't worry, I'm not hungry."
Her mother retreated feeling, as she always felt on similar occasions, a mixture of helplessness, failure and a touch of fear. She decided not to let her thoughts run in the direction that they had begun to take. Instead, she took the bag and coat that Sylvia had abandoned. She hung up the coat and put the bag under the stairs.

"That's it. Always throw your clothes around and let your mother act the servant. That's all I am in this house - a servant for everybody," and she sounded more convincing by raising her voice a decibel or two to a pitch of anger.


Dermot O Meara was a civil servant. Well dressed, well groomed, clean-shaven, he prided himself a little on his appearance. At 41 he had decided that the forties weren't so bad after all. Life was what you made it yourself. He was five foot eleven, broad-shouldered, fit from his early morning runs, although a slight paunch betrayed his fondness for the delicacies of life. The scent of "Addiction", his favourite After-shave, pervaded the air close to his body even at dinnertime
"So what's this I hear about people studying the classics?"
James and Sylvia cocked their ears, but Monica laughed.

"Oh, that's our James! I wanted to call the black kitten Felix and he wants to know the opposite word; of course, he'll always want to do different to everybody else.”
Sylvia glanced at her brother. Dermot spoke.

"The opposite of Felix is Tristis; both Latin words; Felix means happy. Tristis means....not happy. I agree with James. The other kittens look far happier - far more lovable."

"I didn't mean that", said James. "I like the black kitten."
"You mean you like Tristis", said his father.
Tristis. It's hard to get your mouth around that word", said Monica. "Tristis! Tristis! Come here, Tristis!" she mocked.
"At least, it's unusual, and not common like Felix", said Dermot.

"As usual, you didn't eat your dinner".  

Monica scraped most of Sylvia's plate into the cats' dish. 

"I don't see much point  slaving over a hot oven and cooking dinners for people who won't eat them."
Sylvia, James and Dermot all heard her remark, but none of them answered.

The Senior Counsel rose to address the jury. This was one case he didn't want to lose. His face was serious, his wig slightly askew. The judge leaned forward as he began.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, there is only one verdict you can bring in today, and that is the verdict of guilty.
You have seen Dermot O Meara in the witness box. You have seen Monica O'Meara, his faithful wife, trying desperately to shield her husband from his well-deserved fate. You have seen the videotapes, with the evidence of 14 year old Sylvia O'Meara and of her younger brother James O Meara.
The facts are simple. On the night of February 10th last, twelve year old James woke, as he usually woke, in his own bedroom at 3 a.m. He heard a noise in the bathroom. He expected then to hear a person leave the bathroom. He expected to hear his sister's door creak open and then shut. He expected to hear muffled noises from his sister's room and then the sound of his sister crying. 

He expected to hear all of those things because, night after night, for longer than he could remember, he had heard that sequence of noises: sounds of a person in the toilet, his sister's door creaking open, then shut, muffled noises, followed by his sister crying; and on the night of February 10th he heard them all again. But on this particular night, which was really the morning of Februauy 11th, this brave young boy decided to investigate what had become for him a waking nightmare. He got up, went directly to his sister's room and, in the darkness, attacked her attacker. 

He left scrape marks on her attacker's face, below the left eye. He also left a bite mark on her attacker's ear. He switched on the light and he saw that the attacker was Dermot O Meara, his own father. . . . . ."
The Senior Counsel spoke animatedly for half an hour.

Outside in the great Round Hall of the Four Courts, where learned looking men and women in wigs and gowns chatted and walked and smoked, their Aunt Mary sat between James and Sylvia, asking them about school and hockey and football.
Suddenly a door opened. Dermot O Meara came out, his hands chained to a prison officer.

James thought back to his last birthday when Dermot had bought him his own P.C. It had been a special delivery with a card saying "Happy birthday to the best son in the World".
James held back the tears. He thought he knew now why he had wanted so much to call the black kitten Tristis.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Stop Rape against Women in Conflict

The Nobel Women Laureates are today going to the Congo for a Conference with the above title.  Among the Laureates are Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams.

Please support those in the Congo conference and shout STOP to rape, murder and war - especially when women and children are the victims.

The true stories from around the world of the vicious rape and murder of women that appear on must be seen to believed

Rape of women seems to go along with army conquest. Rape is wrong but rapists get cover from governments who sponsor armies .

Governments and armies everywhere know and fail to stop the rape of women and children who find themselves facing down the loaded barrels of conquering bravados.

These bravados have been trained by armies, paid for by governments.

The crime of rape against these women and children is also a crime on the part of the armies and governments.  

The whistleblowers for war crimes are not rewarded by their governments but punished as traitors.   They are visited with degrading and inhuman treatment, as has happened in the ongoing case of Bradley Manning of the US army. 
Stop Rape Now is asking for pledges from individuals or organisations to do what they can to stop this heinous institutional crime against vulnerable and defenceless women.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hamas Lose support for just Palestinian cause by cruel executions

The continuing occupation of Palestine by a cruel and unjust occupying Israel, the settler violence against Palestinians, the unjust laws and protocols that make Palestinian lives a matter of daily intimidation and harassment, the Israeli massacre in Gaza, - all of these have raised cries of protest from concerned people all over the world.

This cry of protest has no force of arms or physical power to change what is happening but is a human cry against injustice.  Its force is a moral one.  But for this it should not be disregarded.  From such moral outrage there often comes revolution and reform.  Without such moral outrage the revolution or reform, if it happens at all, will be either pathetically weak or itself unjust.

The news last week of three executions by the Gaza authorities, Hamas, makes sad reading for supporters of Palestinian rights.

Hamas who were elected to rule over all of Palestine have in effect been confined, by Israeli and international machinations to rule only over the Gaza peninsula - another injustice.

Hamas rule in Gaza has been under scrutiny by all supporters of Palestinian rights.  The fact that they have engaged in eleven executions since taking power there is a massive disappointment  for human rights supporters of Palestinians.

There is a particular sadness and outrage  about the three recent hangings - the names of the victims have not been revealed even in death.

No chance here of a Troy Davis style petition revealing the facts of the cases and trials before three human lives were taken.

No chance of the sad human face of the inhuman capital punishment being shown to the world. No chance for petitioners to ask for a reprieve.  No chance for humanity to enter the equation.

I appeal to Hamas to stop executions and abolish the death penalty.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Pope is Wrong

Pope Benedict has again decided that women priests are not allowed in the Roman Catholic Church, that male priests must not marry (except for those who came en masse or separately from other religions because of decisions in their own churches with which they disagreed). 

The Pope is patently wrong on both counts. It is an injustice to 50% of Roman Catholics to exclude them from priesthood, the highest spiritual rank, power  and honour in the Church's gift.  It is also an injustice to demand compulsory celibacy from men on whom this same spiritual rank and power is conferred.  It is folly to make these two decisions in the name of the founder of Christianity.

The reasons given were usually about the fact that all the apostles were male, not female.  No mention that some of them were married, including the first Pope, Pope Peter.  Also "there were no women at the last supper".  Really?  The men did all the washing up?

But Benedict's reasons have more to do with obedience to him. 

Pope John Paul II (not to be confused with the smiling Pope John Paul I who was probably murdered in the Vatican) and Pope Benedict have stood like tigers against the ministry of women or relaxing the law of compulsory clerical celibacy.

They have not been as fiercely adamant about cleaning up the corruption that has pervaded the Vatican.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Parents Go Public Alleging bullying of Child

Appalling Saga of Bullying Alleged in Kells

The alleged bullying of a child in a Kells school is the subject of articles published in a number of Irish newspapers recently:


the Meath Chronicle

the Irish Examiner

The press release related to the above has been taken down by request