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Who are the War Criminals? Who has Violated International Law?
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My name is Mary Kelly and I am a 51 year old nurse and a mother of 4 children.
I am facing a retrial in the coming weeks with a possible 10 year prison sentence if convicted, for disarming a US Navy war plane refueling in Shannon International Airport, in Co Clare, on the west coast of Ireland.
That plane was parked illegally in a civilian airport in a neutral country on its way to Iraq bringing armaments to the most blatant war of aggression and savagery in decades. I took that action fully aware of the consequences in order to force the Irish Government’s illegal complicity with the genocide of the Iraqi people into the public consciousness. Blowing up innocent children, their brothers and sisters, parents and grandchildren in this so called war on terror, or in any war is an obscenity. Dropping napalm, cluster bombs, DU tipped warheads, patriot missiles on innocent people is insane and beyond belief. All these weapons have passed through Shannon. The sanitization of al these facts by the media is criminally irresponsible.
On Jan 29th 2003 at 4.00am I took an axe and smashed the nosecone and then the fuel lines of that warplane and temporarily decommissioned it. I did so because I, unlike the Irish Government, respect the rule of law and especially the rule of international law. Furthermore my action was taken not just to defend the rule of international law as a matter of “choice? but because the Nuremberg principles on which international law is founded “obliges me to do just that : “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individuals] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.? The Nuremberg Tribunal 1945-1946.
How did I, an ordinary woman, come to be in this situation? I was alerted to the key role of Ireland in the lawless US /UK military operation when some dedicated activists - skilled plane spotters alerted the Irish people by documenting massive increases in US military air traffic through the airport, many camouflaged as ordinary non-military planes. That monitoring took place mainly in the middle of the night, in miserable winter conditions and under constant state harassment. Largely due to that work, Scott Ritter was later to describe Shannon Airport as “part of the US military conveyor-belt of death?
Some committed activists set up a peace camp to facilitate the monitoring of the use of Shannon as a US military air base and to create a focus for the opposition to it. We exhausted the usual forms of protest lobbying, letters, marches etc and were faced with a government that refused even to acknowledge that there was any departure from Ireland’s traditional neutral status. Yet the accelerating US military build-up to another war on Iraq made the conclusion inescapable that Ireland’s role this time was CENTRAL to US military operations.
Shannon is the “welcome mat for US troops en route to Iraq, and the entry point to the ME. This “welcome mat was NOT put there by the Irish citizens, but by a Government that continues to ignore the will of its people.
The peace camp endured for one month in freezing winter conditions, with just tents and one caravan. It got phenomenal support, and brought to the Irish public a crystal clear focus on what was transiting through our civilian airport. Namely; armed foreign troops, DU, Napalm, Daisy cutter bombs, class A explosives, and possibly prisoners en route to Guantanamo Bay during the invasion of Afghanistan. This is only a fraction of what is still going thru there, that we know of, every day and night. Faced with the mounting evidence of US and UK determination to attack Iraq in spite of worldwide opposition I felt obliged to take direct action.
One immediate result of my action and a similar action a few days later by 5 Catholic Workers, was the pull out of 2 military carriers from using the airport. This temporary withdrawal although a success was not a triumph. Numerous US air carriers continued to use Shannon for refueling facilities, and hence the Irish Government continued to fuel the war. This refuelling continues today, and I am here to call for an International campaign to support those of us in Ireland who are engaged in this fight. Our actions achieved three things : 1) The use of Shannon airport by the US military inescapably captured the media headlines and alerted Irish people to the realities and seriousness of Ireland’s incorporation into the build up to an illegal war 2) It struck a serious blow to the confidence of the US military security at the airport 3) It inspired Irish anti-war activists. The biggest demonstration ever against US military aggression happened two weeks later in Dublin, our capital city, where over 150,000 people marched, while other marches happened throughout the country.
By the time of my trial in June, however, the anti-war feeling of Feb 15th was shown to be mere sentiment in the face of persistent scare-mongering about US disinvestment from Ireland and consequent economic collapse. Inspite of this huge opposition on Feb 15, only a small number of people stood in my support outside the courthouse in June. Yet my trial featured such international figures as Ramsey Clarke, Scott Ritter, Dennis Halliday and Michael Birmingham. I faced a virtual media blackout and practical desertion by the popular movement, including the Left. Fortunately, the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera were there to document the whole trial.
My experience has taught me that one of the biggest weapons of Imperialism facing us in Ireland is its ability to anaesthetise the public’s conscience and there is no doubt that the last 10 years of Ireland’s economic boom ?popularly known as the Celtic Tiger ?has done just that. The Celtic Tiger, almost entirely a US dollar creation, has coincided closely with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation Project for the New American Century. Shannon airport, the closest European international airport to the USA, is being privatised. It is now clear that Shannon airport is to be used as a US military airbase as part of the US conquest of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and ultimately Western Europe. The Celtic Tiger was the price of the conscience of Ireland. Criminalising the movement.
The Irish State is now using the legal system to criminalize people who stand up and be counted, people in the anti war movement resisting and challenging the US takeover of the Irish court system, where so far International law is not recognized. The peace camp was bullied out of existence by High court orders issued by the so called Guardians of peace, An Garda Siochana. Plane spotters have had their monitoring equipment confiscated, activists are routinely harassed, and tied up in endless court hearings presided over by a judge thoroughly in favour of the US agenda in Shannon. Over 30 protestors are now banned from Co Clare, which is fast becoming a second home for US troops, where soldiers in full military uniform on stopovers from missions to Iraq, can be seen shopping in towns near to Shannon. The media obligingly puts a spin on anti war movement news, in deference to what the US masters require.
Ireland holds the EU presidency for the next 6 months. Curiously, Ireland is a member of PFP, Partnership for Peace, indicating a country that has no intention of joining NATO. Amoung the duties of our Taoiseach ( PM ) Bertie Ahern, he will be tasked involvement in the EU common defence policy. So a supposedly neural country will be leading the EU into a non neutral pact!?! He has allowed over 125,000 troops pass through Shannon since the illegal invasion of Iraq. Ireland is NOT neutral. Whatever its aspirations the EU is well on the road to being a support system for the new Empire. Ireland should NEVER be a part of any Empire!
Our job as activists is to reignite the public conscience that has been dulled. Our job is to safeguard and preserve what is best in humanity, what was aspired to in all the old texts, and in the modern attempts like the Un charter. Our job is to safeguard International Law.
Amnesty Internationals reports states that the US has harbored, trained and supported the worst state terrorists in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. They have been responsible for the death of millions; yet terrorism is never mentioned in connection with the US administration. The UK Government refused to co-operate with investigations into the murder of many innocent Irish people, including 2 of our greatest human rights lawyers, Pat Finucane, and Rosemary Nelson. For 30 years it has blocked the investigation into the biggest hidden massacre of the troubles, the Dublin Monaghan bombings of 1974. Where there is a question of State collusion there is NO clarity, and NO JUSTICE. The biggest threat in the world are our Governments who are not recognizing their own laws nor International laws and treaties. The media shamelessly aids them describing an illegal unprovoked brutal invasion with the highest technology available, as an operation of enduring freedom.
Like Bobby Sands who sacrificed his young life in the struggle for Irish freedom said in his moving poem, "The Rhythm of Time, "the spirit that says IM RIGHT... was buried at wounded Knee... but it will rise again; it has withstood the blows of million years.. and will do so to the end." Similarly like the spirit of the Palestinian people, who refuse to be crushed in the face of a most brutal illegal occupation by Israel, backed by the US, we must draw on the example of such courageous people who never give up.
Irish men and women have fought long and hard for freedom from tyranny, with many sacrifices on the road to that cherished goal. Irish women have shown extraordinary courage, and been the backbone of resistence to the British Empire. Women like Anne Devlin, who faithfully supported Robert Emmet 200 years ago in a uprising against British occupation. Women who out of love of freedom, worked, and helped organize the support for the struggle for Independence. My fight in a nutshell is about having International law recognized and upheld in the Irish courts. When we say we are neutral, I want it to be REAL. I want myself and others facing trial to win our court cases and be ONE country where the US has to respect our laws and leave, and therby inspire other countries also to kick out these terrorists masquerading as peacemakers. Lets keep our laws and insist they are used.
The most remarkable phenomenon of the last 12 months is the isolation of activists like myself who are forced to rely on the goodwill of some excellent individuals but who are in the end struggling in very weakened circumstances to construct legal cases to reclaim the right to be judged by the principles of International Law. I call upon this movement at the World Court, and World Social Forum, Mumbai India, to organize International Lawyers to support activists facing criminal charges by :
1. Coming forward to support them instead of waiting to be asked
2. Coordinating national and international campaigns around the defense of the activists, and making this Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 18th a day of actions related to defending the Nuremberg Judgment and International Law.
3. Launching a concerted international campaign to reinstate international law ?the UN Charter and the principles which inspired it and bring the US and UK, Bush and Blair, before the International Criminal Court in the Hague to answer for their crimes.
4.Protesting outside Irish Embassies and Consuls during the trials of Shannon peace activists. 5.I call on activists worldwide to come and join with us in protest at Shannon, June2004, when George Bush will be visiting.
Finally I invite the World Court Tribunal on Afghanistan and Iraq to come and hold one of their court sessions in Ireland.
Thanks you to the Asian Women's group who organized this World Court, and to Denis Halliday for making my case known to them.
In our quest for justice, we must keep alive our hope and courage, speak out, support each other and never give up!
ANTIWAR PROTESTS IN IRELAND
Protests organised by Irish Anti War Movement to be held across Ireland against Bush Visit :
Dublin - Assemble Parnell Square Dublin at 7pm 25th June - After protest there will be buses to take people to venue of Bush visit but bus seat needs to be booked in advance - Please call following number to secure a seat: Ireland - 087 7955013, 087 2839964, 087 1274315, +044 45787. The IAWM will also hold big fund raiser at The Point Theatre Dublin on the night of 19th June 2004. Visit: www.irishantiwar.org for details - Write to PO Box 9260, Dublin 1.
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