Thursday, 21 January 2016

Letter to US Ambassador Ireland re Mary Anne Grady Flores prison sentence

Dear Ambassador

I have just received notification that grandmother Mary Anne Grady Flores was sent to prison on Tuesday to serve a six month sentence in the United States for having photographed a non-violent protest against drones at a point where she believed she was entitled to take pictures of the protest.

Before posting news of this amazing prison sentence on social media, I decided to contact you to register my astonishment and to protest most vigorously about the sentence.  I have forwarded to you the report and shameful picture that I received courtesy of Democracy Now.

As a human rights activist, it becomes necessary for me to complain about human rights abuses in countries around the world, including the USA.  The outrageous sentence imposed on Mrs Grady Flores may not rank in kind with the recent executions in Saudi Arabia, or the horrors of Isis, or the threatened executions in Egypt, or indeed the continued incarceration of prisoners, including their torture, in Guantanamo Bay.

Nevertheless her incarceration is a human rights abuse.  The right to protest is sacred, especially when it is non-violent.  To send anyone to prison for taking pictures of a peaceful, non-violent protest is outrageous.  Mary Anne was trying to prevent the killing of innocents far from the United States by US drones.  How does this make her a criminal?

I call on you Ambassador to complain against this outrage to your President and to urge him to show moral support for Mrs Grady Flores.  In October 1960, Presidential candidate John F Kennedy showed moral support for the jailed Martin Luther King in Atlanta by phoning Mrs Coretta King. Two days later he was released.

Mary Anne Grady Flores and Jonathan Wallace should be released forthwith.  So too should all such peaceful protestors who are in prison in the United States because of peaceful civil disobedience, including many Catholic Workers and members of other non-violent anti-war protest groups.  Many of these are in delicate health and many have passed  away after ill health in inhuman prison conditions left them debilitated and physically but not morally weak.

As we face the prospect of "more of the same" or worse after the US elections, it is time for President Obama to show the same concern for the rights of non-violent protestors as he has recently and properly shown for the black people whose lives have been snuffed out by gun-toting police or the citizens including children murdered by gun-toting fanatics on the streets of the USA.  It  is also absolutely important that he stop the drone killings and recede from State violence himself.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan

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