WASHINGTON DC-Peace activists from around the country approached the entrance checkpoint to the Pentagon today to again submit a request for a meeting with someone “in a position of authority about war crimes committed by the US.” Members of the group organized by National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance were part of a Campaign Nonviolence action and said that they were acting out of responsibility to Nuremberg. The Nuremberg principles created objective classifications for war crimes and were developed by the International Law Commission of the United Nations out of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi criminals during World War II.
The group refused to leave the area after warnings from Pentagon police who refused to let the group pass the gates to deliver letters and petitions addressed to President Obama, Secretary Ashton Carter and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The letters included details about US war crimes alleged to have been committed by US government elected and appointed officials. The petition signed by over 23000 people to Obama, Carter, and Merkel called for the closing of a drone relay station at US Air Force Base Ramstein in Germany which has been linked to the deaths of innocent civilians.
The action comes the same week of the International Day of Peace where over 700 actions across the globe called for nonviolence, an end to war, poverty, and “serious efforts” to address environmental degradation, and the climate crisis. Activists in Germany also attempted to deliver this petition to Merkel today.
Australian activists protested in solidarity at the US Pine Gap military base near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, and another solidarity action was held at West Point, NY by others concerned about the US drone program.
Pentagon police ordered the group to leave to a designated protest corral and also threatened arrest of journalists who were ordered to shut off cameras and to also move to the protest corral zone.
Twenty-one activists persisted in calling for a meeting or the opportunity to deliver letters and petitions and were then arrested by Pentagon police and charged with “Violation of a Lawful Order.”
One of the “Pentagon 21”, longtime peace activist Brian Terrell of Iowa, stood at the entrance holding a sign that quoted Martin Luther King, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”” He told The Nation Report that he was protesting and petitioning the government, a right that should not be abridged by the Constitution, “You just witnessed an attempt to abridge my right. I cannot cooperate in that,” speaking about Pentagon guards’ refusal to let him pass or to stand at the entrance holding his sign.
Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska of Maryland, one of those arrested, explained why she was at the Pentagon seeking a meeting today “The measure of a healthy society is how we treat the marginalized. How we can care for them in a just and humane manner when 56% of the federal budget goes to the Pentagon for its 800+ military bases and the killing? That fills the pockets of the weapons manufacturers!”
The World Beyond War Conference that had just completed the previous day and brought hundreds of peace activist from around the country along with the Campaign Nonviolence together say there is a link between poverty, war, and the environmental threat to the planet. The groups say there needs to be a new way of running our planet and resolving international conflict through nonviolence.
“The reason why I took action today is because I am moved by conscience by the words of the late peace activist Daniel Berrigan who said ‘Because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total – but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.’ We all need to get out of our comfort zone and away from what is convenient for us when it comes to taking action. We cannot continue on the path of more war while so many social problems exist in society. War is a threat to Mother Earth and all humanity. The way of war is not sustainable” Malachy Kilbride of Maryland said.
Those arrested include Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Richard Ochs, Malachy Kilbride of Maryland, Alice Sutter, Felton Davis, and Chat Gunter of New York, Don Cunning and Manijeh Saba of New Jersey, Brian Terrell of Iowa, Phil Runkel of Wisconsin, Joan Stallard, Art Laffin and Eve Tetaz of Washington, DC, JoAnne Lingle of Indiana, Howard Mettee of Ohio, Phoebe Sorgen of California, Henry Lowendorf and James Pandaru of Connecticut, Beth Adams and Paki Wieland of Massachusetts, and Nancy Gowen of Virginia.
Activists were ordered to appear in court to defend their charges on November 3, 2016.