We hope this letter finds you well in body, mind and spirit. It has been quite awhile since our last communication. No doubt you have been as busy as we have!
Let us first convey a few personal notes. In April last year Dan’s mother died. And last month Pat’s mother died. As you will know such events are times of not only grieving but of reflection on how we spend the time we have left and in gratitude for the love that has brought us this far in our lives. At the other end of the life spectrum, Carmel was thrilled to become an Aunt and hold in her arms the first child (Aidan) of her brother. May we be true to that Love which binds and enfolds us from the beginning to the end of our lives.
It is that time of year again: Ash Wednesday, 25 February. Dan plans to mark the Ministry of Defence in London in the appropriate and now traditional manner. We invite you to consider joining him. Please contact us to consider this possibility and to prepare with him and others. The annual liturgy at the Ministry of Defence will begin at 3 p.m., in Embankment Gardens, nearest tube is Embankment.
You may recall that last February over a million in London alone, and perhaps three million people around the country, marched against the impending war in Iraq. We hope you were as thrilled as we were. To have so many coming out against war was such a contrast to previous conflicts. The reasons for this flood of protest were many but we could not help but think that the time between impending conflicts is as important as the time just before them.
For over 20 years we have been promoting a method of active non-violence and resistance to nuclear war preparations through both the ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ times. We believe that we have contributed to the growth of a more determined and persistent community of people who will say ‘no’ to war and the things that make for war.
Any war these days carries with it the real prospect of the use of nuclear weapons. Of course, protesting with banners is important but not enough. Non-violently disarming the capacity of the State to wage war is required and that, as we have always believed, must include civil disobedience. A war-making State remains immune so long as its laws, which protect death-dealing intentions and capabilities, are untouched.
Yours for a more peace-filled 2004,
Catholic Peace Action
Dan and Carmel Martin, Pat Gaffney
Last year’s notes
For Ash Wednesday 2003, five people risked arrest by marking the Ministry of Defence. (Dan, Scott Albrecht, Angela Broome, David Partridge, and Ann Kobayashi)
17 March 2003, St Patrick’s Day, four people marked the Ministry of Defence.
28 March Dan Martin and Scott Albrecht attempted blockade of the Ministry of Defence, using chains. We were thwarted due to the police having prior knowledge. So we saved the chains, for use at some future date, and used our bodies instead, which was not as effective, but they got the message anyway. Scot was arrested for persisting in his attempts. As a chauffeur-driven government car went through the barrier Carmel chanted ‘blood on your hands’. There is no doubt they heard her as they waited for the barrier to lift.
Hopefully, the last major London event in support of this brave man will be 22 February at the Liberal Synagogue, 28 St John’s Wood, NW8, opposite the Lord’s cricket grounds. From 5-7 pm the panel of speakers will include Susannah York, Helen Bamber and Peter Hounam. There is seating capacity for 2,000 people so bring a few friends! We say ‘hopefully’ because Mordechai is due to be released on 21 April. Freedom at last! The Campaign is asking people to consider joining them, and travel to Israel to welcome him out of prison.
Mordechai Vanunu was a technician at Dimona, Israel’s nuclear installation, from 1976 to 1985. He discovered that the plant was secretly producing nuclear weapons. His conscience made him speak out and in 1986 he provided the London Sunday Times with the facts and photos they used to tell the world about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme. His evidence showed that Israel had stockpiled up to 200 nuclear warheads, with no debate or authorisation from it own citizens.
On 30th September 1986, Mordechai was lured from London to Rome. There he was kidnapped, drugged and shipped to Israel. After a secret trial he was sentenced to18 years for ‘treason’ and ‘espionage’ though he had received no payment and communicated with no foreign power. He was held in complete isolation for 11 1/2 years, only allowed occasional visits from his family, lawyer and a priest, conducted through a metal screen.
“By George! There is a bush fire in the world today”
I hear New Labour’s world-class leader say,
“Now is the time to use our nation’s clout.
The truth is there for all to shout about.
The Arabs in their reed-boats menace all.
They seem to think there’s oil beneath Whitehall!
So hew them now with left and right and main
Their mothers’ loss shall breed two parties’ gain,
Cry “George for Bush!” and we shall never lose
The next election or the right to cruise
In every sky and proffer as we please
The truly mass destruction of our righteous peace.
(George is a long time supporter of CPA, an atheist, and was a conscientious objector in World War II.)