Busy peace week
It's been a busy week for peace activists.
On Thursday, 13 Witness Against Torture (WAT) members interrupted the U.S. House of Representatives to call for the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison and denounce provisions in the Defense Appropriations Bill concerning detention policy.
I am ashamed and sad to say that I was not among them.
Here's the statement they read:
“Today the House of Representative is in the process of contemplating not the passage of a bill but
the commission of a crime. Provisions in the proposed Defense Appropriations Bill grant the United
States powers over the lives of detained men fitting of a totalitarian state that uses the law itself as
an instrument of tyranny. The law would make the prison at Guantanamo permanent by denying
funds for the transfer of men to the United States, even for prosecution in civilian courts.
"Abandoning the civilian courts, the bill would be the ultimate concession that the rule of law and
cherished American values cannot survive the fear and hatred that have consumed this country.
The proposed bill makes restrictions on the transfer of detainees even to foreign countries so severe
that no one — whether cleared for release by our own government or acquitted in trials — could be
expected to leave Guantanamo. It therefore mandates the indefinite detention even of innocent
human beings, which is the very essence of tyranny. Congress has an obligation to uphold the U.S.
Constitution. All Americans have the obligation to defend human rights. The proposed bill makes
America a callous and reckless jailer, unworthy of the name of democracy. It must be defeated.
"Guantanamo must close. Those unjustly bound must be freed. Justice must rule.”
They could face a six-month jail sentence, as well as a fine of $250 for taking a public stand against torture with our elected representatives.
Two fairly local people, Paki Weiland of Northhampton, Mass., and Nic Abramson of Woodstock will be aboard “The Audacity of Hope,” one of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla II. They hope to make it to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid to the people the Israeli government has imprisoned there. The Americans are bringing letters of support and compassion from U.S. citizens because the U.S. government supports the embargo. Others are bringing items the Israeli government deems dangerous and forbids, like pasta, chocolate and crayons.
The activists have been most clear that they are not armed and will not offer resistance. I predict that the Israeli military will board the ship complete with snipers who will threaten people with their guns and will tase and otherwise brutalize anyone they don't like the looks of. I also predict that none of the letters of support or compassion will make it into Gaza, nor will the macaroni or crayons.
The peace activists will be jailed and returned to the U.S. with the promised 10-year travel ban to Israel. The Israeli government has already warned them not to try to be the compassionate human beings the Jewish people would have liked to see during the Holocaust. Can you imagine the “heroship” that would have been conferred by the Israeli government on people who tried to break the blockade of the Warsaw Ghetto?
The House of Representatives took a partisan stand against the U.S.-led involvement in Libya. Too bad both Republicans and Democrats are too beholden to the military-industrial complex to take a moral stand against that war or any war.
So in spite of the Republicans actually voting against supporting an American military engagement it is business as usual in Washington, D.C. and the rest of the nation.