Nobel Peace Prize awarded to nuclear weapons abolitionists

Editor’s Note: This is the press release sent out by Ground Zero Center in response to Friday’s announcement of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognizes the central role of civil society in abolishing nuclear weapons.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is comprised of hundreds of partner organizations in 100 countries, of which, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington is one.

Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Communications Coordinator, said:

“At a time when the potential for nuclear war is as high as it was during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, this award recognizes the huge and critical role of the global movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), parliamentarians and citizens has never been more important.”

Civil society has played a central role over many years in drawing attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and most recently in the negotiations at the United Nations (UN) that brought about the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

122 nations voted to approve the Treaty, and so far over 50 nations have signed on. None of the nuclear-armed nations support the Treaty, and they continue to rely on nuclear weapons as instruments of foreign policy.

The current inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of the US-North Korean conflict, coupled with President Trump’s efforts to undermine the Iran nuclear weapons deal, are in direct conflict with efforts for peaceful conflict resolution among nations.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the best of what the global community is capable through the UN, and it provides a clear path to abolishing the greatest threat to humanity.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action applauds the decision of the Nobel Committee to support the efforts of those who work within a framework of mutual cooperation and consensus to negotiate mutual security assurances among nations.

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When will we learn the lesson of war?

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Ground Zero member Marianne Mabbitt, and published in the Kitsap Sun on September 19, 2017. 

Sunday’s opening episode of the new Ken Burns documentary airing on PBS this week, “The Vietnam War,” exposed some history of Vietnam that was never common knowledge in the United States.
Most Americans knew that it was once called French Indonesia and that the French had a long embattlement and defeat in Vietnam. However, most of us never read of Hoh Chi Min’s experiences in the United States and England, or that he’d written letters to American presidents expressing his values as similar to many in the U.S. Constitution: of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, of freedom and independence. That was his goal for the people of Vietnam. Five American presidents, from Truman through Nixon, stated at one time or another their aversion to war there, and yet it continued.
The documentary reviews the horrors of war, the waste of lives and resources, the humiliation of our televised defeat after so long a struggle and the agony survivors endured and still do today. We are repeating similar painful experiences in the Middle East, the United States having been in Afghanistan for over 14 years with no end in sight.

Certainly, we as Americans have doubts about our mission and effectiveness in fighting foreign wars and we are tired of these unending wars that squander the lives and talents of our servicemen and women. The money, technology, research and energy should be redirected to life sustaining projects. The enormous tax dollars we spend on the military budget is obscene compared to the budget of our social programs needed at home such as schools, housing, energy, transportation, agriculture and preserving natural resources. The legislators and corporations that make up the war machine continue to lie to us so they can continue to rake in huge profits.

Various pieces of the military industrial complex are in every state in our nation. We are told we must keep supporting them for the jobs they provide us. But the money is siphoned from programs we need, from jobs we’d rather be doing that are constructive to our own society, not destructive to others. In the end, we are the ones we destroy as well. We bring home the guerrilla military tactics, the weapons, the nightmares and violence. The United States continues to escalate the level of violence in our own land in our media, in our schools, our games, our sports, on our streets and in our homes. “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

When will we learn that war only begets more wars? When will we deny the war machine our tax dollars and demand that we build up our own nation again? Democracy demands an informed electorate to vote rationally but we have so limited our real news sources and dumbed down our schools that the future looks very bleak for the youth of the United States. Who is paying attention to the next war on the horizon?

Resist a first strike of North Korea! We must resist the litany of atrocities committed in our name in any country. Today we are on the brink of another war with North Korea. This one involves a nuclear weapons exchange that could annihilate the earth’s atmosphere as we know it. The planet cannot withstand any more nuclear explosions. Tell your representatives to support the Senate bill, ‘Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.’ It requires Congress to authorize nuclear weapons strikes rather than the President alone. We must stop the cycle of violence our country imposes on others and on ourselves.

We must stop the bleeding and bind our wounds. We must dialogue and plan for the near future and envision a country that believes and ACTs towards liberty and justice for all. If not now, when? If not us, who will do it? If we don’t act, will we even be here after a nuclear war North Korea?

M.G. Mabbitt lives in Silverdale.

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Appeal for diplomacy in the Korean nuclear crisis

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ground Zero Center is a member of Abolition 2000, and has endorsed the Appeal for diplomacy in the Korean nuclear crisis. The following message is from Alyn Ware, on behalf of UNFOLD ZERO, an affiliate of Abolition 2000.

The United States and North Korea should step back from the brink of war in North East Asia, and instead adopt a diplomatic approach to prevent war, according to an appeal sent yesterday to these two governments, and to the UN Security Council, by members and affiliates of the Abolition 2000 global network to eliminate nuclear weapons.

110 organisations and over 200 additional civil society representatives from 44 countries endorsed the appeal. it highlights the increasing risk of war – and possibly even the use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation, accident, or intent, calls for ‘immediate commencement of negotiations to prevent a military conflict from erupting,’ and urges ‘the UN Security Council to prioritise a diplomatic solution to the conflict.’

Endorsers of the appeal included parliamentarians, mayors/city representatives, scientists, academics, business leaders, medical professionals, veterans, educators/teachers, Nobel Peace Laureates, Right Livelihood Award laureates (the ‘alternative Nobel Peace Prize’), religious leaders, artists, nuclear victims, lawyers, women’s organisations, youth, former UN officials & diplomats, NGO leaders and other civil society campaigners.

Diplomacy with North Korea has worked in the past, and could succeed again if the security concerns of all countries in the region are taken into consideration,’ said Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation (PNND) and coordinator of the appeal. ‘This could include negotiations for a North East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, which appears to have cross-party support from the three key countries – Japan, South Korea and North Korea.’

‘We support the call for a negotiated settlement of the dispute between Korea and USA, Japan, South Korea and neighboring countries with a view to secession of nuclear testing in the interests of humanity and protection of the planet,’ said Ela Gandhi (South Africa), Grand-daughter of Mohandas Gandhi and Co-President of Religions for Peace.

We support this call for diplomatic approach for North Korea,’ said Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of women who walked from North Korea to South Korea in support of peace. ‘As we experienced during our visit to North Korea, the people want peace not war.’

‘I feel sad for the ordinary folk who live in North Korea,’ said Karipbek Kuyukov (Kazakhstan), a second generation victim of nuclear tests and Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project. ‘We [in the USSR] went through that too. We thought having weapons of mass destruction means being stronger and more powerful, but it is like an illusion. It is like carrying a huge rock up a steep mountain.’

The appeal also opposes any pre-emptive use of force by any of the parties, calls on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises, and welcomes the offers by the UN Secretary-General and the European Union Foreign Minister to assist negotiations to resolve the conflict.

UNFOLD ZERO, an affiliate of Abolition 2000, joins others in the Abolition 2000 network to promote this appeal.

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PLC Six found guilty of trespass on west coast nuclear weapons base

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Nick Mele for his stellar onsite reporting of the Federal trial of the PLC Six. Click here to read more about the March 7, 2017 nonviolent direct action that led to yesterday’s trial.

Tacoma, Washington, September 6, 2017: Nuclear resisters were found guilty in US District Court of criminal trespass for their nonviolent protest at a US Navy nuclear weapons installation in Washington State.

In a trial of six nonviolent activists who conducted an act of civil resistance on March 7, 2017 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington, Magistrate Judge David W. Christel found the PLC Six (Mary H. Mele, Karan Founds-Benton, Charles Smith, Betsy Lamb, Steven Kelly SJ, and Alexandria Addesso) guilty of trespassing. The defendants had all stipulated to the Navy’s version of the facts in the case but pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal trespassing. Their motion to include international law and necessity in their defense had previously been denied at the request of the prosecution.

The six resisters had crossed the marked property line onto the Bangor Trident base while reading sections of the Nuremberg Principles out loud before being arrested by military police. They were charged with trespassing and received ban and bar letters before being released.

They were part of a demonstration at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington on March 7th at the conclusion of the Pacific Life Community’s (PLC) annual gathering. The Bangor submarine base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. If Washington state were a sovereign nation, it would be the third-largest nuclear-weapons state in the world.

All were sentenced to 100 hours of community service and charged a total of forty dollars in mandatory processing fees and fines. All but Lamb were placed on probation for one year; Lamb was given two years probation because of a prior probation violation.

The judge permitted each defendant to testify about their state of mind at the time they crossed the line at the entrance to Bangor Naval Base. In moving testimony, many spoke of their personal conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral; two pointed out that the president of the United States has sole authority to launch nuclear attacks without any consultative process or review.

Charley Smith of the Eugene, Oregon, Catholic Worker, carried a copy of the Nuremberg Principles when he crossed the line, as did the others; asked to explain their significance to him, Smith replied, “Very simply, if we remain silent or do not challenge the evils of society we are complicit in those evils just as much as those giving the orders to commit crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.”

Alexandria Addesso, the youngest of the defendants spoke movingly of nuclear disarmament as a right to life issue for her and her generation. She noted the many threats to younger people, from climate change to economic stagnation, and said, “I might not have ten, twenty or thirty years of life ahead of me, and I want to work with my peers to end the threat of nuclear annihilation.”

In his closing argument, defense attorney Blake Kremer cited legal precedent to challenge the judge to change the framework of his thinking and temper his verdict based on the facts of the case with his sense of justice.

Before sentencing, Lamb invited Judge Christel to collaborate with the defendants in concluding the trial with an outcome that would be both creative and just. She concluded “I want to quote just two lines from a favorite piece of music of mine, the fourth cantata of Johan Sebastian Bach. Freely translated they read ‘It was an awesome war when life and death contended./The victory remains with life, the reign of death is ended. Alleluia.’ This is my hope.”

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In these times….What can we do? A Workshop with Ken Butigan

Pax Christi Northwest in collaboration with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action is pleased to present educator, writer and advocate for nonviolent change Ken Butigan.

Ken is a key organizer for Campaign Nonviolence, a movement to mainstream active nonviolence. The Campaign is part of the long-term process of abolishing war, ending poverty, and healing the planet.

Be inspired by past movements for peaceful social transformation and explore what we can do NOW.

Saturday September 16 – 8:30 am to 3:00 pm St. Joseph Church Social Hall – Capitol Hill – 732 18th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112

Schedule: Gathering – 8:30, Welcoming – 9:00, Prayer – 9:15, Workshop – 9:30, Networking & Lunch – 12:00 (Please bring a bag lunch), Peace Walk – 1:00 (destination TBA), Conclusion – 3:00

Come join us for a full day of inspiration, prayer, exchange, and ACTION for NONVIOLENCE in our day.

For more information, contact Denny Duffell – duffelldennis@gmail.com.

Click here to download the PDF flyer for the event.

Grounded in the Gospel and Catholic social teaching, Pax Christi Northwest is a regional organization of Pax Christi USA (PCUSA) a membership organization that rejects war, preparation for war and every form of violence and domination including personal and systemic racism. See: paxchristiusa.org.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action gathers people to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection. Throughout the year the GZ Center provides opportunities for witnessing against and resisting nuclear weapons, especially Trident. See: www.gzcenter.org.

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