by Judy Bello, Cross Posted from The Deconstructed Globe, also posted on CounterCurrents and The Oriental Review
For a while it seemed that the drones project had been restrained following a flood of public criticism last year. Reports from United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and mainstream NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International clearly documented violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law by Drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, countries the US is not at war with. US attempts to justify the strikes were clearly inadequate but strikes dwindled so the discussion around Drones lost it’s allure. I warned last fall that this is was just a superficial misdirection while all the corporate and pentagon initiatives remained on track . Today the drones are back in force and legality seems a forgotten issue.
ISIS is on the front burner with Iraq and Syria facing airstrikes with no mandate from Congress and none from the United Nations. The Syrian authorities have been advised, but not invited to comment. The government in Iraq is struggling. They will take assistance from anyone in any form. The Pakistani army made a problematic drive into the Tribal Lands to wipe out Taliban centers, then fell silent as US drones resumed bombing there. Yemen is in complete disarray with disaffected Houthis holding the US supported puppet government at bay. Continue reading
In his Closing Argument, Mark did a brilliant job of presenting some of the most complex themes and concepts that underlie our work as we protest the use of Reaper drones in illegal wars to kill civlians, suspects and unidentified ‘militants’ driving down the road, sleeping in their beds, worshiping in the mosque or buying bread at the bakery. He said:
I don’t feel that my actions were a serious breech of the law, if they were a breech, which I contend they were not. [Keeping in mind that his five charges could result in a two year jail sentence]
Prosecutor McNamara’s duty is to seek justice, not to seek convictions. Continue reading
Mark Colville, a Catholic Worker from New Haven, Connecticut, was tried on September 18 and 19 on five charges stemming from a peaceful, nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base, which is a drone control site located outside Syracuse, New York. His Sentencing Hearing is coming up on December 3. Mark, who faced the court pro-se (presenting his own defense rather than having an attorney do it) was tried in DeWitt Town Court before a jury of 6 persons, with Judge Robert Jokl presiding. Mark was charged with 3 Violations: Trespass and 2 counts of Disorderly Conduct; and 2 Misdemeanors: Obstructing Governmental Administration and Contempt of a Court Order.
Judge Jokl did not allow anyone to record anything in the courtroom. Normally, though the judges don’t allow recording tesimony, we have been allowed to record opening rtatements and closing arguments. Since this was not the case, I took notes during the trial which I will present below.
Here are some of the points Mark made during his Opening Remarks: Continue reading
Mark’s Testimony is preceded by a summary of the Prosecution Witness testimony.
In prior testimony it was established that Mark had walked up to the gate with two companions, and asked to speak with Colonel Evans. They said that they had brought flowers for him, and a letter, the People’s Order of Protection, which was also written on the large sign he carried. When they were told that Col Evans would not come and speak to them, they set down the flowers and tucked their message into the fence, but they didn’t leave. Continue reading
Colleen Kattau Leads a few rounds:
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars held an event at Hancock Base, to join the International Day of Resistance to Drone Warfare and Surveillance. Sixty to one hundred people joined our speakout in the our permitted area on the front lawn in near the main gate of Hancock Base, with a significant contingent of military, state and civil police looking.
As we began our event, a military spokesperson addressed the crowd from a platform 15 feet in the air, to tell us that it was our first amendment right to stay in the space designated for us, but moving to other areas would be a criminal offense. They had allowed a handful of counter-protesters into the ring we had constructed for our event, who stood with their signs and their backs to us facing the road.
We were there on this occasion, to speak to one another, and to those on the base who stood across from us. Our voices are captured in the videos below. Click More to see videos of entire event. Continue reading
In this video: Rae Kramer reads The People’s Order of Protection and connects the days events at Hancock to our ongoing Trials in DeWitt.
And: Mark Colville speaks about being convicted in September in DeWitt Town Court, on five charges, for bringing some flowers and the People’s Order of Protection to this very gate for Colonel Evans, and standing outside the gate with two Yale Divinity Students singing hymns after the guards refused his offering.
Video by Al Brundage of Rochester Indymedia.
by George Payne of Gandhi Earth Keepers International
Recently I participated in another anti-drone protest at Hancock Air Base on the outskirts of Syracuse, NY. For the past several years the base has been used as an operating center for unmanned weaponized aircraft known to the public as drones. To date, these machines of death have flow from bases all over America and have been used to kill thousands of militants engaged in acts of aggression against he United States and its foreign interests. Tragically the people flying these weapons have also murdered more than 5,000 innocent civilians including women and children. Many of these victims have been killed while attending weddings, birthdays, and funerals. Given that the United States is not officially at war with nations where drones are being used in combat situations (e.g., Yemen and Pakistan) their deployment has been deemed illegal according to international bodies of law like the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. As of late, several former drone pilots and operators have come forward to renounce their service as being criminally misguided. Continue reading
Last evening (10/8) judge Robert Jokl dismissed the July 23, 2014 Hancock Trespass charge against former Freedom Rider and Brooklyn Granny Peace Brigade activist Joan Pleune, 75. Description of the Arrest here.
Albany Attorney Lew Oliver, representing Joan at the Motions Hearing in the DeWitt Town Court, defended her primarily on First Amendment grounds. Oliver also argued that the Base’s accusatory instrument was defective and failed to establish the legitimacy of the painted blue line at the beginning of the driveway into the base supposedly marking the base boundary. Prosecutor Jordan McNamara, who had previously received Oliver’s several motions dealing with the blue line and other matters, failed to show up for the hearing. Continue reading