Medea Benjamin Speaks at Hallwalls

Undrone Upstate Walkers Rally at Niagara Fall Air National Guard Base With Medea Benjamin, then head into Buffalo to hear her speak.

A rapper named Alex started off the show with some great music. Then Russell Brown of the Undrone Upstate Walk ers spoke, followed by Medea. I made the audio recording of their presentations which follows. There will eventually be a video, but if you just want to hear what was said, listen to the recordings below.


Alex calls for Peace.   He did a song before this, but I missed most of it while fiddling with my phone to get it set up.

Russell Talks about Undrone Upstate

Medea Benjamin's Talk 



Drones, Black Lives Matter, the European Refugee Crisis

Drones, Black Lives Matter, the European Refugee Crisis:
What do They Have in Common?

Panel discussion at Nazareth College in Rochester with walker Russell Brown, Professor Harry Murray and Yaqub Shabbaz, a social sciences student and community organizer from Chicago.   Below is an audio recording of this fascinating conversation.   I have broken out the introduction, each individual speaker and the following discussion for convenient listening.

Introductory Remarks by Harry Murray:

Yaqub Shabbaz speaks about Black Lives Matter:

Russell Brown speaks about Drones and the Undrone Upstate Walk:

Harry Murray speaks to the EU refugee problem and ties the issues together:

Discussion:




Press Release: Hancock Drone Base Gates Closed, Drones Kill Children

PRESS RELEASE

Date: September 21, 2015
Contacts: John Amidon: 518-312-6442
Ellen Grady: 607-279-8303

Drones Kill Children
Hancock Drone Base Gates Closed

   FIVE ARRESTED HOLDING HUGE “DRONES KILL CHILDREN” BANNERS          

            ACROSS HANCOCK REAPER DRONE BASE MAIN ENTRANCE

This morning, September 21, the U.N.-designated World Day of Peace, five members of the grassroots human rights coalition, Upstate (NY) Drone Action [upstatedroneaction.org], were arrested as they held aloft three large banners together spanning the Hancock’s main entrance and exit driveways.

Hancock is on East Molloy Road in the town of DeWitt just north of Syracuse, NY. It hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard, home of the “hunter/killer” [the Pentagon’s phrase] MQ9 Reaper drone.

Reapers are unmanned robotic assassins flying missions 24/7 over Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.

One of those arrested noted,

“The Reaper not only kills and maims humans, it destroys homes, and displaces and terrorizes whole communities. U.S. taxpayers pay for such terrorism which perpetuates violence and generates enormous ill will against the United States.”

Today’s event at Hancock’s main gate is only one incident there in Upstate Drone Action’s persistent nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock war crime. Since 2010 there have been over 165 anti-war-crime arrests at the base, resulting in extreme bails, maximum fines, incarcerations, and Orders of Protection…as well as some acquittals.

Those arrested: Bonny Mahoney, Ed Kinane & Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse and Dan Burgevin and James Ricks of Ithaca. All were detained but released by Onondaga County Sheriffs around noon with appearance tickets charging them with trespass and disorderly conduct. Their court date is 6 p.m., October 14, in the DeWitt (NY) Town Court.

###

DRONES KILL CHILDREN – DRONES FLY, CHILDREN DIE

The United Nations General Assembly has declared today, September 21, 2015, as International World Day of Peace. As we stand here at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, its “hunter/killer” MQ9 Reaper Drone arrogantly patrols Afghan skies 24/7—killing innocent children there and likely elsewhere.

We, US citizens and taxpayers, look on with horror at the millions of refugees fleeing airborne terror and are shamed by our unconsented complicity. Too many drone victims are precious and beloved children. We bring their images and their silenced voices to Hancock today.

As members of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition/To Ground the Drones and End the Wars, we come to this War Base—home of the Reaper and the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard—seeking to prevent the murder of these innocents, both on this day and for all days.

Our intent is to uphold law, both domestic and international.
Our intent is to bring the images of their victims both to the Hancock chain of command and to the US public.

Specifically, our intent is to day NO to the maiming, murder and terrorizing of children.

Since 2010, this grassroots Coalition has sought to expose state-sponsored drone war crime. This crime is multi-layered. It includes extrajudicial execution/assassination, contempt for due process, the undermining of international law and national sovereignty, the murder of the undeniably innocent—both within and beyond any recognized zone of war.

Unjustified on any level, save “might makes right,” such terrorism prepares fertile ground for perpetual conflict. This criminality benefits few besides war-profiteering corporations.

To the extent that WE, THE PEOPLE ignore our laws and our Constitution—allowing our government to kill whomever it wants, wherever it wants, however it wants—we make the world less safe for children here and everywhere. We demand that the Hancock chain of command and the Unites states STOP THE KILLING!

Upstate Drone Action Coalition/
To Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Town of Dewitt, New York
21 September 2015

For more information on the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the wars can be found at http://upstatedroneaction.org/.

Coverage in Syracuse Post Standard: http://www.syracuse.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/09/five_anti-drone_protesters_arrested_at_hancock_airfield.html




Exposing Drone Terrorism: Remarks at the 2015 Left Forum

Exposing Drone Terrorism: Remarks at the 2015 Left Forum
by Ed Kinane.   Republished from Truthout.org Speakout

I’ll begin by noting that most terrorism has not been perpetrated by Islamic-identified people. In fact, despite the relentless deluge of publicity to the contrary, Islamic-identified people commit only a fraction of the world’s terrorism.

Most terrorism is large scale. In the 20th and 21st centuries most terrorism is high tech and airborne…whether over Guernica or Dresden or Nagasaki or Hiroshima or Tokyo or Laos or Viet Nam or Baghdad or Gaza. Airborne violence primarily murders civilians. Airborne terror is shooting fish in a barrel.

In the 21st century weaponized drones are the favored instrument of this airborne terrorism. Drones are the darling of the planet’s major terrorist power, the CIA/Pentagon. As yet only two nations – one Christian-identified and one Jewish-identified – deploy weaponized drones and they do so massively.

That may be obvious to many in this room, but it’s a reality monolithically obscured in US corporate media. Hence it’s a reality totally not grasped by mainstream USA.

Drone terror is not just about the maiming and killing of civilians or about assassinations and extrajudicial executions. Nor the violation of national sovereignty nor about a superpower’s contempt for international law. Nor about the deceit, clandestinity or suppression of domestic civil rights that accompany drone terror. Drone terror is also about the enduring fear drones generate – whether in Waziristan or rural Afghanistan or Yemen or wherever. A fear that leads hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and villages….except in Gaza, where, trapped in their open-air prison, few can flee. People in Gaza, living daily under the gaze of Israeli drones, endure years of trembling and despair.

The politicians and mainstream media pull off the Big Lie about who the terrorists really are when they incessantly invoke the terrorist boogieman and virtually never define the word. They never come clean about what terrorism really is. They never explain that terrorism isn’t a function one’s color of skin or of one’s cultural identity, but that terrorism is none other than violence – or the threat of violence – directed at civilians for political or military ends.

The politicians and mainstream media would convince us that terrorism is exclusively what others do, never what US forces do. These media pimps ignore the intent and effects of such US high tech terror devices as Cruise missiles or Agent Orange or landmines or depleted uranium or napalm or white phosphorus or cluster bombs…or the US nuclear arsenal.

The media don’t tell us that drones, with their Hellfire missiles and 500 lb. bombs, dismember and incinerate human beings with far less “precision” than any ISIS beheading.

I mention fear. The corollary of fear is cowardice. Terrorism, especially airborne terrorism, is cowardly. In those demolished cities and besieged regions I cited above, there’s little or no capacity to shoot back. The killer/victim ratio is obscene. For example, in the Gaza invasions, the kill ratio is about 100 to one. Gaza is the barrel; Gazans are the fish.

Drone operators, whether in Israel or in the US, are totally safe; totally riskless, doing their dirty work tens or hundreds or thousands of miles away from those they incinerate or dismember. The drone crew – godlike – stands outside the barrel, killing in comfort, in ergonomic chairs, on shift, during precise hours, a daily commute from their spouses and kids, a few miles along paved roads from their TVs, their refrigerators, their air conditioning, their plumbing.

In Central New York where I hail from, the Hancock killer drone base hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard. At Hancock, the drone operators and their chain of command are enclosed by a high barbed wire fence and heavily armed guards. As if such force protection isn’t enough, the base commanders have somehow gotten both DeWitt Town judges to issue Orders of Protection against scrupulously nonviolent anti-drone activists. Such Orders of Protection forbid us to even approach those fences or those guards.

The irony is that these Orders of Protection – a legal device designed to protect abused spouses and kids – facilitate the slaughter of innocents in Afghanistan. Those Orders choke our First Amendment right to petition the Government for a redress of our grievance re the war crime done in our name and with our tax dollars.

Over the years in various articles and in various forums, my mantra has been: Drones are tactically clever, but strategically stupid. Typically I go on to discuss the blowback that weaponized drones generate. And I note the proliferation thanks, in part, to US and Israeli export of drones. I point out that the day may not be far off when drone terror is also used against domestic foes of the US power structure, the likely victims being minorities or dissidents or legal demonstrators or simply those out of favor with the reigning party or security apparatus. Drones, like chickens, are coming home to roost. (The White House ought not to forget that one day it too may become a drone target. That prospect might keep any reluctant president doing the industrial/military complex’s bidding.)

But now I realize that my mantra, Drones are tactically clever, but strategically stupid, is over-simple. It fails to tell us who suffers and who gains from strategic stupidity. For those currently monopolizing drone weaponry, drones are a kind of miracle…at least in the short term.

When it deploys weaponized drones, alienating whole swaths of humanity, the Pentagon surely loses any battle for “hearts and minds.” But there’s method to the madness. All that drone-inspired hatred toward the US serves a useful purpose: like US arms sales and arms transfers to volatile regions, drones keep the pot boiling. This keeping-the-pot-boiling disaster capitalism is gravy for corporations seeking overseas resources, cheaper labor or international markets. And especially so for those – like Bechtel or Boeing or Lockheed or General Atomics – who buy Congress and suck up lucrative Pentagon contracts. For many, drones are exciting and miraculous. After all, drones promise to promote US capitalist world dominance.

And to do so on the cheap.


Now, our panel this morning seeks to generate discussion on how we might expose and oppose drone terrorism. What I bring to the conversation is several years’ experience of resistance to one specific weaponized drone base just outside my hometown, Syracuse, New York, but Hancock is only one of several US drone bases attracting persistent anti-drone resistance. Others include Beale in California, Creech in Nevada and Whiteman in Missouri. And now there’s the campaign against the US drone signal relay station at Ramstein AFB, Germany, heating up.

Hancock, a former F-16 airbase, now is an MQ9 Reaper hub. Since 2010, Hancock has been operating the Reaper hunter/killer drone over Afghanistan 24/7. We suspect Hancock targets other countries as well.

In 2009, our grassroots group, the Upstate Drone Action Coalition – also sometimes called Ground the Drones and End the Wars – began demonstrating there at least twice a month. Our campaign – inspired by Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King and by Fr. Roy Bourgeois of School of the Americas Watch – uses an ensemble of tactics. These include actions at the base that risk, and thus far have always resulted in, arrest. As of 2015, we’ve had over 160 arrests.

Upstate Drone Action perpetrates a range of direct actions right outside Hancock’s main gate. Beforehand all participants read out loud together and sign our Nonviolent Pledge. So far there have been ten or a dozen such actions with ensuing trials. On one occasion, 31 of us were arrested, and on another, 38.

With each action we go to the gate and try to deliver to the chain of command our People’s Indictment of Hancock War Crimes – co-authored by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. More recently we have also tried to submit to the guards a People’s Order of Protection on behalf of Afghan children.

Our documents being rebuffed by the guards, we then “die-in” – sometimes wrapped in bloody shrouds – blocking the base entrance. In October 2012, we blocked all three Hancock entrances. Last March 19, to block the entrance, we used several seven-foot high, three-dimensional cardboard “big books” (including the UN Charter; the NYU/Stanford report, Living Under Drones; and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars).

Uniformed DeWitt Town police, Onondaga County sheriffs and New York State troopers arrive and arrest us. No soldiers perform arrests, nor have there been any federal charges. So far there’s been no rough stuff.

We’re charged in the DeWitt Town court variously with trespass, disturbing the peace, and obstructing government administration. Those allegedly violating their Order of Protection are charged with contempt of court – a misdemeanor allowing for a jury trial, of which we have had several. But mostly, after long delays, we have bench trials.Often we go pro se, i.e. defend ourselves, the better to speak from our hearts and put drone terrorism itself on trial.

The two DeWitt Town judges — defying international law and the Sixth Article of the US Constitution making such law the supreme law of the land – are determined to deter us from further actions at Hancock. So, for recidivists – some of us having been arrested five and six times – the judges multiply hoops and escalate penalties. At arraignments, the judges have imposed $10,000 bail on a couple of our people – a punitive absurdity since none of us miss an opportunity to return to court.

Mostly we’ve been fined $375 – the max for trespass – which some us refuse to pay and instead divert to a peace group in Afghanistan. Some of us are sentenced to 15 days in the local slammer. One 79 year-old spent two months in prison; one grandmother, now out on appeal, got a year’s sentence – which, happily, led to a spate of publicity…at least overseas and in movement media.

We call our trials “court witness”; we call doing time “prison witness.” Our actions aren’t civil disobedience, but rather civil resistance – because we’re not disobeying law, but trying to enforce law. As we see it, doing time is a trifle compared to the price paid by those living – and dying – under drones.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.




Open Letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel
authored by Elsa Rassbach, Judy Bello, Nick Mottern, Ray McGovern
reprinted from Truthout.org Speakout

The letter was written and endorsed by Americans who stand in solidarity with the Yemeni survivors of drone strike victims on behalf of their murdered loved ones.   Faisal bin Ali Jaber, the first complainant on the suit, has previously met with members of Congress in the United States, but received no satisfactory response.  We further stand in solidarity with the German people who should not be made to host a U.S. center of warmaking and facilitate the illegal murderous U.S. military drone program.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, the Syracuse Peace Council and Rochester Peace Action and Education are among the endorsers of the letter,  which has been signed by Judy Bello and Carol Baum on our behalf. 

______________
May 26, 2015
Her Excellency Dr. Angela Merkel
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Bundeskanzleramt
Willy-Brandt-Straße 1
10557 Berlin, Germany

Dear Chancellor Merkel:

On May 27th a German court in Cologne will hear evidence from Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Yemen who lost two relatives to a 2012 U.S. drone strike. This is the first time that a court in a country providing significant military/technical support for the U.S. drone program has permitted such a case to be heard.

U.S. drone strikes have killed or maimed tens of thousands in many countries with which the U.S. is not officially at war. The vast majority of drone-strike victims have been innocent bystanders, including large numbers of children. One respected study found that for every target or known combatant killed, 28 “unknown persons” were also killed. Because the victims were/are not U.S. citizens, their families do not have standing to initiate legal action in U.S. courts. Shamefully, the families of these victims have had no legal recourse whatsoever.

Thus the case of Mr. bin Ali Jaber, representing his family in a German court, is of great interest to many who have long been dismayed at the U.S. government’s violations of human rights and international law in the so-called “war on terror.” Reportedly, Mr. bin Ali Jaber will argue that the German Government has violated the German Constitution by allowing the U.S. to use Ramstein Air Base in Germany for extrajudicial “targeted” killings in Yemen. He is expected to request that the German government “take legal and political responsibility for the U.S. drone war in Yemen” and “forbid use of the Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein.”

Credible evidence has already been widely published indicating that the U.S. Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein plays an essential role in ALL U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia. The killings and maiming resulting from missiles fired from U.S. drones would not be possible without the cooperation of the German government in enabling the U.S. to use Ramstein Air Base for the illegal drone wars — a military base which, we respectfully suggest, is an anachronism a full seventy years after the liberation of Germany and Europe from the Nazis.

Irrespective of the ultimate outcome in court of Mr. bin Ali Jaber’s case, which possibly could continue for years, now is the time for Germany to take effective measures to stop the U.S. from using Ramstein Air Base for combat drone missions.

The reality is this: The military base in Ramstein is under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal The reality The reality is this: The military base in Ramstein is under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal Government of Germany, even though the U.S. Air Force has been allowed to use the base. If illegal activities such as extrajudicial killings are conducted from Ramstein or other U.S. bases in Germany — and if U.S. authorities do not desist from these legal offenses then we respectfully suggest that you and your government have a duty under international law to act. This is clearly expressed in the Nuremberg Trials Federal Rules Decisions of 1946-47 (6 F.R.D.60), which were adopted into US law. Accordingly, every individual participating in the enactment of a war crime is responsible for that crime, including businessmen, politicians and others who enable the criminal act.

In 1991 the reunited Federal Republic of Germany was granted “complete sovereignty at home and abroad” via the Two-plus-Four-Treaty. The Treaty emphasizes that “there shall be only peaceful activities from German territory” as does Article 26 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, which states that the acts undertaken to prepare for a war of aggression are deemed “unconstitutional” and “a criminal offense.” Many in the U.S. and around the world hope that the German people and their government will provide much-needed leadership in the world on behalf of peace and of human rights.

The German Government often states that it has no knowledge of the activities being conducted at Ramstein Air Base or other U.S. bases in Germany. We respectfully submit that if this is the case, you and the German Government may have a duty to require the needed transparency and accountability from the U.S. military and intelligence agencies in Germany. If the present Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Germany precludes the transparency and accountability that the German Government needs in order to enforce German and international law, then the German Government must request that the U.S. make appropriate modifications in the SOFA. As you know, Germany and the U.S. each have the right to unilaterally terminate the SOFA upon giving two years’ notice. Many in the U.S. would not oppose but would indeed welcome a renegotiation of the SOFA between the U.S. and Germany if this should be required to restore the rule of law.

The end of hostilities in 1945 seventy years ago saw the world faced with the task of restoring and advancing the international rule of law. This led to efforts to define and punish war crimes — major efforts like the Nuremberg Tribunal and the formation of the United Nations, which in 1948 proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While Germany has sought to adhere to the principles of the Declaration, the U.S. increasingly in recent years ignored these principles. In addition, the U.S. seeks to draw NATO and other allies into complicity in violating these principles.

The U.S. began the drone program in secrecy in 2001 and did not reveal it to the American people or to most of their representatives in Congress; the drone program was first discovered and revealed by U.S. peace activists in 2008. The British people were also not informed when the United Kingdom in 2007 obtained killer drones from the U.S. And only recently have the German people been informed, through courageous reporting by independent journalists and whistleblowers, of the key role of Ramstein in the illegal U.S. drone program.

Now aware of the role Ramstein in undermining human rights and international law, many German citizens are calling upon you and the German government to enforce the rule of law in Germany, including on the U.S. bases. And because of the indispensable role of Ramstein for all the U.S. drones strikes, the government of Germany now holds in its hands the power to actually stop the illegal U.S. drone killings altogether.

If the German Government were to take decisive action in this matter, Germany would surely find support among nations of the world, including the nations of Europe. The European Parliament in its Resolution on the Use of Armed Drones, which was adopted by a landslide vote of 534 to 49 on February 27, 2014, urged its Member States to “oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial killings” and “not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states.” The European Parliament Resolution further declares that Member States must “commit to ensuring that, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an individual or entity within their jurisdiction may be connected to an unlawful targeted killing abroad, measures are taken in accordance with their domestic and legal obligations.”

Extrajudicial killing – the killing of ‘suspects’ – is in fact also a grievous violation of the U.S. Constitution. And the U.S. initiation and prosecution of killings and wars in sovereign countries that do not threaten the U.S. mainland violate international treaties the U.S. has signed and Congress has ratified, including the United Nations Charter.

Tens of thousands of Americans have struggled in vain for years to expose and end the U.S. drone program and other U.S. war crimes that have quite predictably led to increasing hatred for the U.S. and its allies among the targeted and terrorized populations. Like the incarceration without due process at Guantanamo, drone warfare has clearly undermined the post-WWII international law upon which we all rely.

We hope that major U.S. allies – and particularly Germany, because of the indispensable role it plays – will take firm action to end extrajudicial drone killings. We implore you to take all steps necessary to put a stop to all activities in Germany that support drone warfare and killings by the U.S. government.

Signed:

  • Carol Baum, Co-Founder of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Syracuse Peace Council
  • Judy Bello, Co-Founder of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, United National Antiwar Coalition
  • Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of CodePink
  • Jacqueline Cabasso, National Co-convener, United for Peace and Justice
  • Leah Bolger, Former President of National Veterans for Peace
  • David Hartsough, PeaceWorkers, Fellowship of Reconciliation
  • Robin Hensel, Little Falls OCCU-PIE
  • Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • Malachy Kilbride, National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance
  • Marilyn Levin, Co-Founder of United National Antiwar Coalition, United for Justice with Peace
  • Mickie Lynn, Women Against War
  • Ray McGovern, Retired CIA Analyst, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
  • Nick Mottern, KnowDrones
  • Gael Murphy, CodePink
  • Elsa Rassbach, CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition
  • Alyssa Rohricht, Graduate Student in International Relations
  • Coleen Rowley, Retired FBI Agent, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
  • David Swanson, World Beyond War, War is a Crime
  • Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait
  • Brian Terrell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Missouri Catholic Worker
  • Colonel Ann Wright, Retired Military Officer and Diplomatic Attaché, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink

Endorsed by:

  • Brandywine Peace Community, Philadelphia, PA
  • CodePink Women for Peace
  • Ithaca Catholic Worker, Ithaca, NY
  • Know Drones
  • Little Falls OCC-U-PIE, WI
  • National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR)
  • Peace Action and Education, Rochester, NY
  • Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse, NY
  • United For Justice with Peace, Boston, MA
  • United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
  • U.S. Foreign Policy Activist Cooperative, Washington DC
  • Upstate (NY) Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
  • Veterans For Peace, Chapter 27
  • Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • War Is A Crime
  • Watertown Citizens for Peace Justice and the Environment, Watertown, MA
  • Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
  • Women Against Military Madness, Minneapolis, MN
  • Women Against War, Albany, NY
  • World Beyond War
  • World Can’t Wait

Afterward:

The Yemeni plaintiffs did not prevail on May 27, nor was it anticipated that they would prevail in such an important matter in a lower court in Germany. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision in the case set some important legal precedents:

a) The Court ruled that the Yemeni survivors, who are not German citizens, have standing to sue the German government in the German courts. This is the first known time that a NATO country that has granted drone survivors or victims who are not citizens of their country such standing in court.

b) The Court stated in its decision that the media reports regarding the essential role of Ramstein in the US drone killings are “plausible,” the first time that this has been officially acknowledged by authorities Germany.

But the Court held that it is in the discretion of the German government to decide what steps must be taken to protect the people of Yemen from the danger of being killed by drones with essential assistance from Ramstein Air Base. In addition, the Court mentioned that the present Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and Germany may at this time prohibit the German government from closing the Satellite Relay Station in the Ramstein base. The plaintiffs argued that the SOFA could be renegotiated or even cancelled by the German government.

In an unusual step, the Court immediately granted the plaintiffs the right to appeal. ECCHR and Reprieve will appeal on behalf of the Yemeni plaintiffs as soon as the full written decision of the court in Cologne is available.




Ithaca Vigil in Support of the call to close the Ramstein US Drone Base

IMG_4143 Today at the Ithaca Catholic Worker Peace Vigil we held signs in support of the call to close  the Ramstein US Drone Base in Germany.

As we stood on the corner with our signs many traveling by honked at us in support and gave us the thumbs up.

Tom Joyce of Ithaca said , “I’m here today because I want to show my support for the German people’s call to close the US base on Germany”.

And James Ricks, also from Ithaca, stated,  “I feel strongly that we should let the Faisal bin Ali Jaber family, who have had two family members killed in US drone strikes in Yemen, know of our support for their lawsuit in Germany”.

IMG_4144The lawsuit states that the German Government has violated its own Constitution by allowing the U.S. to use Ramstein Air Base in Germany for extrajudicial “targeted” killings in Yemen. It also requests that the German government take legal and political responsibility for the U.S. drone war in Yemen and forbid use of the Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein.

The Ramstein Base, one of the largest U.S. military bases outside the U.S., is the site of a satellite relay station that plays a key role in the communication between drone operators here in the U.S. and their drones abroad. IMG_4142 The importance of the Ramstein base to the U.S. drone war program cannot be overstated. Signals from drone operators in the U.S. are sent via transatlantic fiber optic cable to Ramstein, where the signal is bounced to a satellite that connects to drones in the Middle East and Africa.

German peace groups have asked citizens in the US for solidarity actions to Stoppt den US-Drohnen-Krieg via Ramstein (Stop U.S. Drone Warfare Via Ramstein). Our vigil today was timed to support a lawsuit filed by Reprieve and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights against the German government on behalf of the bin Ali Jaber family. The case will begin with a hearing on May 27 before the high administrative court in Cologne, Germany.

For more information see “Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War” by Jeremy Scahill and an interview with Andreas Schuller, the lead attorney on the case.

Ground the Drones and End the Wars




Hancock Solidarity Vigil to Close the US Drone Base in Germany, Ramstein

spc-ramstein-solidarity
Syracuse Peace Council members protest Ramstein relay in solidarity with the German people

Report Back From: Carol Baum of the Syracuse Peace Council and the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Just wanted to let you know that today (May 21) we held a solidarity vigil to close the US Drone Base in Germany, Ramstein. We stood outside Hancock Air Base (in Syracuse), getting some (but not a lot of) media attention, but we did get a lot of car honks of support (but not from the cars coming out of the base).

If you haven’t planned one yet, please consider it – we need to stand in solidarity with the German activists trying to get Ramstein closed down. Please note – our translation of “Stop the Global Drone War” probably should have been Stoppt den US-Drohnen-Krieg via Ramstein (this is the slogan being used in Germany, but we found out about it too late).

—————– Press Release ———————

Solidarity Vigil to Close Ramstein: US Drone Base in Germany
Thursday, May 21 from 4:15-5:15 pm

On Thursday, May 21 from 4:15-5:15 pm, the Syracuse Peace Council is sponsoring a vigil to close Ramstein, a US military base in Germany. The vigil, which is part of our weekly Peace Outreaches, will be across the street from the main entrance of Hancock Air Base at 6001 E. Molloy Rd., Mattydale.

Ramstein Base, one of the largest U.S. military bases outside the U.S., is the site of a satellite relay station that plays a key role in the communication between drone operators here in the U.S. and their drones abroad. The importance of the Ramstein base to the U.S. drone war program cannot be overstated. Signals from drone operators in the U.S. are sent via transatlantic fiber optic cable to Ramstein, where the signal is bounced to a satellite that connects to drones in the Middle East and Africa.

German peace groups have put out a call to U.S. peace groups for solidarity actions to Stoppt den US-Drohnen-Krieg via Ramstein (Stop U.S. Drone Warfare Via Ramstein). This vigil is timed to support a lawsuit filed by Reprieve and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights against the German government on behalf of the bin Ali Jaber family, who lost two members to a drone strike in Yemen. The case will begin with a hearing on May 27 before the high administrative court in Cologne, Germany. The suit demands that the German government “take legal and political responsibility for the U.S. drone was in Yemen” and “forbid use of the Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein.”

For more information see “Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War” by Jeremy Scahill and an interview with Andreas Schuller, the lead attorney on the case.

 




Mother Earth is Weeping for Her Children

Mother Earth is Weeping for her Children:
The US Military Must Stop Environmental Ecocide

Guest Post by Joy First of NCNR

As I traveled to DC to risk arrest in an action organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) I was feeling both nervous, but also knowing this is what I needed to be doing.  This would be my first arrest since I was arrested at the CIA in June 2013, and served a one-year probation sentence after an October 2013 trial.  Taking almost two years off from risking arrest helped me to really examine what I was doing and why, and I was committed to continuing to live a life in resistance to the crimes of our government.

I have been a part of NCNR for 12 years – since the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003.  As the number of people involved in the anti-war movement declines, I know that we must keep up the resistance.  Though we don’t have big numbers now, it is more important than ever that we speak the truth about what is happening in the wars in Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen, in the drone warfare program, and in looking at ways in which the climate crisis is exacerbated by the military. 

There are so many ways in which the military is destroying our planet through the use of fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, spraying poisonous chemicals on fields in the “War on Drugs” in South America, and through the several hundred military bases around the world.  Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War is still affecting the environment.  According to Joseph Nevins, in an article published by CommonDreams.org, Greenwashing the Pentagon, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.”

WE MUST TAKE ACTION TO END THIS DESTRUCTION OF OUR ENVIRONMENT BY THE U.S. MILTARY.

NCNR began planning an Earth Day action several months ago where we hold the military accountable for their role in the destruction of the planet.  I was sending quite a few emails to various individuals and lists as we continued our planning.  Then about 6 weeks ago I was contacted by Elliot Grollman from the Department of Homeland Security.  He wondered what we were doing, and as a way to try and get more information from me, he asked if he could help facilitate our action on April 22.  What was very surprising to me was that he told me he knew about our action by reading my private email correspondence.  We cannot ever think that anything we say will not be monitored.  He called my home phone number in Mount Horeb, WI at 7:00 am on the morning of the action.  Of course I was in Washington, DC and my husband told him that and gave him my cell phone number.

On Earth Day, April 22, I joined other activists to deliver a letter to Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, calling on the EPA to do their job in monitoring and bringing an end to the military’s complicity in causing climate chaos, and then we went to the Pentagon where we would try to deliver a letter to the Secretary of Defense.  Both of these letters were mailed several weeks before the action and we never received a response.  In both of these letters we asked for a meeting to discuss our concerns.

About thirty people gathered outside the EPA at 10:00 am on the day of the action.  David Barrows made a large banner that read “EPA – Do Your Job;  Pentagon – Stop Your Ecocide”.  There was a picture of the earth in flames on the banner.  We also had 8 smaller posters with quotes from our letter to Ashton Carter.

Max started the program and talked about Mother Earth weeping as she was being destroyed by her children.  Beth Adams read a statement, followed by Ed Kinane reading a statement by environmentalist Pat Hynes.

We had the letter we wanted to deliver to the head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, or to a representative in a policy-making position.  Instead the EPA sent someone from their Public Relations office out to receive our letter.  They said they would get back to us, and I will be surprised if they do.

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo then spoke.  Marsha had been an employee of the EPA until she blew the whistle on activities they were part of that were killing people.  When she spoke up they told her to keep silent.  But Marsha talked about how she would see people like us outside the window protesting against the EPA.  Those protestors gave her courage to continue to push for an end to the crimes being committed by the EPA, even though she was fired.  Marsha told us that by us being outside the EPA, we were offering inspiration to people who wanted to speak up, but were feeling scared to do so.

We had more work to do and so we left the EPA and took the Metro to the Pentagon City mall food court where we had a final briefing before heading over to the Pentagon.

We had about fifty people processing to the Pentagon with people holding puppets made by Sue Frankel-Streit taking the lead.

As we approached the Pentagon I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and my legs were feeling like they were turning to jelly.  But I was with a group of people who I knew and trusted and I knew that I needed to be a part of this action.

We entered the Pentagon reservation and walked on the sidewalk towards the Pentagon.  At least 30 officers waiting for us.  There was a metal fence along the sidewalk with a small opening that we were ushered through onto a grassy area.  This area on the other side of the fence was designated as the “free speech zone”.

Malachy led the program and, as usual, he spoke eloquently about why we need to continue this work.  He talked about NCNR writing letters to elected and appointed officials over the last several years.  We have NEVER received a response.  This is chilling.  As citizens, we should be able to communicate with our government about our concerns.  There is something gravely wrong with our country that they do not pay attention to what we say.  If we were lobbyists for a defense contractor, big oil, or another big corporation we would be welcomed into the offices on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.  But we, as citizens, do not have any access to government officials.  How do we try to change the world when those in power refuse to listen to us?

Hendrik Vos spoke movingly about how our government supports undemocratic governments in Latin America.  He talked about the importance of our civil resistance action with our willingness to risk arrest.  Paul Magno was inspiring as he talked about the many civil resistance actions that we are building on, including the Plowshare activists.

After listening to the speakers eight of us who were risking arrest walked through the small opening onto the sidewalk to try to deliver our letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, or a representative in a policy-making position.  We were on a sidewalk that the public regularly walks on to enter the Pentagon.

We were immediately stopped by Officer Ballard.  He did not look very friendly as he told us we were blocking the sidewalk and that we had to re-enter the “free speech zone”.  We told him we would stand against the fence so people could freely pass by.

Again, someone with no power from the PR office came to meet us and accept our letter, but we were told there would be no dialogue.  Ballard told us we had to leave or we would be arrested.

We were eight concerned nonviolent individuals standing peacefully against the fence on a public sidewalk.  When we said we couldn’t leave until we talked to someone in a position of authority, Ballard told another officer to give us our three warnings.

Malachy began to read the letter we wanted to deliver to Secretary Carter as the three warnings were given.

After the third warning, they closed the opening to the free speech area, and about 20 officers from the SWAT team, who were waiting 30 feet away, came charging at us.  I will never forget the look of rage on the face of the officer who came towards Malachy and violently snatched the letter out of his hands and put him in cuffs.

I could see this was going to be another violent arrest at the Pentagon.  In April of 2011, NCNR organized an action at the Pentagon and there was a lot of violence by the police at that time also.  They knocked Eve Tetaz to the ground and violently wrenching my arm up behind my back.  I heard reports from others that they were also roughed up that day.

My arresting officer told me to put my hands behind my back.  The cuffs were tightened and he jerked them tighter still, causing a great deal of pain.  Five days after the arrest my hand is still bruised and tender.

Trudy was crying out in pain because her cuffs were so tight.  She asked that they be loosened, and the officer told her that if she didn’t like it, she should not be doing this again.  None of the arresting officers were wearing nametags and so could not be identified.

We were arrested at around 2:30 pm and released around 4:00 pm.  The processing was minimal. I noticed some of the men were patted down before we were put into the police van, but I wasn’t.  Once we arrived at the processing station, they cut our handcuffs off immediately as we entered the building, and then the women were put in one cell and the men in another.  They took mug shots of all of us, but did not fingerprint any us.  Fingerprinting takes a long time and maybe when they got our ids, they found that all of our fingerprints were already in their system.

Arrested were Manijeh Saba of New Jersey, Stephen Bush of Virginia, Max Obuszewski and Malachy Kilbride of Maryland, Trudy Silver and Felton Davis of New York, and Phil Runkel and Joy First of Wisconsin.

David Barrows and Paul Magno provided support and were waiting to meet us as we were released.

We were at the Pentagon exercising our First Amendment rights and our obligations under Nuremberg, and also as human beings concerned with the plight of Mother Earth.  We were on a sidewalk that was used by the public peacefully asking for a meeting with someone in the Pentagon, and then reading the letter that we had sent to the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter. We did not commit a crime, but we were acting in resistance to the crimes of our government, and yet we were charged with violating a lawful order.  This is the definition of civil resistance

It is a very serious problem that our calls for peace and justice are going unheeded by government officials.  Even though it seems like we are not being listened to, it is very important to continue to act in resistance.  I know that even when we feel like we are ineffective, acting in resistance is my only choice to do what I can to make a difference in the lives of my grandchildren and the children of the world.  Though it is difficult to know whether we are being effective, I believe that we all must do everything we can to continue our work for peace and justice.  That is our only hope.

Pictures from the arrests at the Pentagon.




End the Wars at Home and Abroad

End the Wars at Home and Abroad

UNAC Conference in Secaucus, NJ May 8-10

Please come to UNAC Conference 2015 and experience a united movement for peace and justice inside this country and around the world.   Ed Kinane, Judy Bello, Nick Mottern, Malachy Kilbride will join Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, Osagyefu Sekou, Abayomi Azikiwe and Glen Ford, and many more presenting at this conference.

Secaucus is 20 minutes from Manhattan.   Check our Website for logistics and program information.   We have an Exchange Board for sharing rides and housing.  And, an incredible list of speakers and participants.

The world is being ravaged by endless U.S. wars, both open and secret; life-threatening global warming and environmental destruction; devastating poverty and disease. Here at home we face unprecedented attacks on labor, immigrants, the poor and oppressed; a massive and racist prison-industrial complex; the increasing militarization of the police and an epidemic of police abuse as in Ferguson, Mo.; widespread domestic spying and an expanding “national security state”; trillions of dollars spent on the military to police the world and bail out the corporate 1 percent while we face severe attacks on the basic necessities of life.

We need to to see ourselves as elements of the same living network.   This conference will be a convergence of people and ideas, a place to share our concerns, our dreams and our plans.

Secaucus is 20 minutes from Manhattan.   Check our Website for logistics and program information.   We have an Exchange Board for sharing rides and housing.  And, an incredible list of speakers and participants  You may not recognize all the names.  I know I didn’t.  But, that’s the point.  Lets all get together and see what happens!




German Activist Confronts Foreign Minister Over Drones

Activist Elsa Rassbach confronts German Foreign MInister Rassback about German support for US Drone Prrogram
Activist Elsa Rassback and German Foreign Minister Steinmeier

German activists are engaged in drone resistance around US Ramstein base which houses a critical repeater that is necessary for drone strikes in West Asia and Africa.   Ramstein has been a critical asset to US wars since the US occupation of West Germany after World War II.   Now it’s drone control.   There are a number of things going on in German resistance at present.

ECCHR, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, is arguing a lawsuit against Germany on behalf of Yemeni citizens whose relatives were killed in drone strikes.    The issue is that Germany is supporting the US base at Ramstein where there is a repeater that makes US drone strikes in West Asia and Africa possible.    The ask is for Germany to make the US remove the repeater at Ramstein and not allow it to be replaced on German soil.

So they aren’t asking for transparency and explanations but rather the cessation of German support for US drone strikes.   The German government has been hiding the facts on this issue and denying responsibility.    However, the truth is documented on the Intercept, which ran a great article by Jeremy Scahill on the case a week ago.    They will have to confront their complicity in a program of targeted killing and random murder of civilians around the globe.

German American activist Elsa Rassbach had the good fortune to run into Foreign Minister Steinmeier at a function recently, where she share with him a little piece of her mind.   Good Going Elsa!