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Press Release for Ash Wednesday, 25 February 2009

24 February 2009

Ash Wednesday, 25 February 2009 Annual liturgy of Repentance and Resistance
 to nuclear war preparations

Since 1984, Christians have gathered annually at the Ministry of Defence on Ash Wednesday to call the Government to repent and reject nuclear weapons and nuclear war preparations, through a powerful liturgical witness and acts of nonviolent civil disobedience which use the traditional symbols of the day – blessed ash and charcoal. During the course of the liturgy, the Ministry of Defence will be marked with blessed charcoal. This action is organised by Pax Christi with Catholic Peace Action and Christian CND.

In 2007 the British Government voted in favour of a programme to replace and up-grade the existing British nuclear weapons programme, Trident.  The act of witness and call on 25th February will urge the Government to cancel these plans and to take a moral lead in the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

This annual witness seeks to articulate messages and teaching of Christian churches.  In his 2006 World Peace Day message Pope Benedict XVI said “What can be said, too, about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of other countries? Along with countless persons of good will, one can state that this point of view is not only baneful but also completely fallacious.  In a nuclear war there would e no victors only victims…” and from 20 Anglican Bishops, writing in 2006, “Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual…The costs involved in the maintenance and replacement of Trident could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt, and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all..”

Those risking arrest on the day, by marking the building with blessed ash and charcoal are:

Rosemary Gomes – age 27 – lives Hackney, London Catholic Worker (LCW)
Henrietta Cullinan – age 47 – lives – Hackney, LCW
Katrina Alton – age 41 – lives – Hackney, LCW
Emil Jansson – age 19 – lives – Listrop Nykrka, Sweden, LCW

Practical details:

Gathering in Embankment Gardens at 3.00 pm for the start of the liturgy which will then take the form of a procession with several stopping-points  around the Ministry of Defence in Horseguards Avenue.

For more information contact:

Pax Christi

Newsletter February 2007

Dear Friend,

Apologies for not corresponding sooner, but we hope you will have a more than vague memory of the now traditional Ash Wednesday repentance and resistance demonstrations at the Ministry of Defence.

Ash Wednesday this year is 21 February 2007.

Along with Pax Christi, we invite you to join us at the Ministry of Defence in London to say NO, through prayer and symbolic actions of repentance, to nuclear war preparations and the replacement of Trident.  We will meet at 3.00pm in Embankment Gardens (nearest tube Embankment Station).

If you wish to take part in nonviolent direct action on the day, or indeed any other day during Lent, and so risk arrest, prior preparation is required so please contact us or Pax Christi (020 8203 4884;;

Yours in the peace, and peacemaking-spirit, of Christ

Catholic Peace Action
Dan and Carmel Martin, and Pat Gaffney


The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales (as distinct from individual Bishops) have finally issued a statement that gives me hope and encouragement for our peace work.  From their statement of Nov. 21, 2006 this gem of a sentence appears:

“Our judgment is that, by decommissioning its nuclear weapons, the UK now has a unique opportunity to offer the international community an approach to security and legitimate self-defense without the unconscionable threat of nuclear destruction.”

When I look for the meaning of the word ‘unconscionable’ at I find these results:

“Not guided by conscience; unscrupulous; not in accordance with what is just or reasonable: unconscionable behaviour; excessive; extortionate: an unconscionable profit.

“Not restrained by conscience; unscrupulous: unconscionable behaviour; Beyond prudence or reason; excessive: unconscionable spending.

“lacking a conscience; “a conscienceless villain”; “brash, unprincipled, and conscienceless”; “an unconscionable liar”

“Greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation; unreasonably unfair to one party, marked by oppression, or otherwise unacceptably offensive to public policy…”

What all the Bishops of this country now find ‘unconscionable’, the people of the church and this country must now make politically unacceptable and indeed impossible. 

Dan Martin

For the Record  —  Lent 2006

Sister Susan Clarkson, Lent 2006

From Ash Wednesday, 1 March to Wednesday of Holy Week, 12 April, the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, Central London, was the scene of many acts of resistance against nuclear war preparations of this Government.

During the six week period of Lent, the Building was marked with blessed charcoal on eight occasions.  The Markers, who risked arrest for each act of resistance, were Sr. Susan Clarkson, Fr Martin Newell and Dan Martin.  Friends saying prayers, holding banners and handing-out leaflets, supported them.

The repentance and resistance season for Christians began early in the morning.  The three, along with a few friends began with prayer and a blessing of the charcoal and ash   The blessing of the ash and charcoal was done by Fr John Concanon.  At the front entrance of the MoD, the three Markers wrote or attempted to write ‘Repent’ and ‘God says: No to new nuclear weapons’, ‘No to Trident’.  The police confiscated the charcoal and escorted them to the bottom of the stairs, where the group handed out leaflets to workers and passers-by and held a banner.  No arrests were made.

The largest of the Lent 2006 gatherings occurred later in the day on Ash Wednesday.  About 60-70 supporters gathered for a liturgy and supportive presence to marking that occurred earlier and was to take place again as an intrinsic part of the prayers for peace and communal repentance.

The process of marking our own foreheads with the ashes of repentance occurred on both occasions.  The participants acknowledge their own sin and complicity with the evil of nuclear weapons.  And, as in the morning, we then brought that same blessed ash and charcoal to the MoD to encourage repentance of and resistance to the nuclear weapon war preparations of this country.

This process, going on its 24th year, reflects the personal and social components of sin and echoes the Pope’s message of Ash Wednesday:

‘”Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). It is an invitation to make firm and confident adherence to the Gospel the foundation of personal and communal renewal.’

In the presence of the prayerful supporters and during the liturgy, the MoD was marked again with the words ‘Repent’.  No arrests were made; the prayers continued; the work for peace encouraged. 

During the Lenten witness the response from the staff was more extreme than usual.  Supporters came from London, Oxford and Kent. 


The reactions seemed were more extreme than in the past – both in support and in disagreement.

One called what we did ‘terrorism’.  This word was preceded by a few choice adjectives.

Another man in a naval uniform walked out the building and away from us then turned around.  He came up to Angela and Dan who were holding a banner and said: ‘I have something to say, I have something to say: I am a Christian and what you are doing is a disgrace to Christianity.’

Dan Martin, Lent 2006  

Another young man stopped before going into the building: ‘I agree with you that nuclear weapons are wrong but Jesus would not and did not break the law.’  Carmel replied: ‘You need to re-read your Bible.’

Many were genuinely friendly and apparently supportive and glad of our presence.

Security Personnel

The response from the security personnel was mostly calm and sometimes even friendly.  During the early morning of Ash Wednesday the cold was obvious to all of us.  One police officer offered to get Dan some gloves while he handed out leaflets.  Later in the day, Dan marked the building again and the same officer said in a disappointed manner, ‘And I was going to let you borrow some gloves this morning.’  Dan asked him to not take it personally.  A few during Lent recognised that while they had a job to do so too did we. 

Officer: ‘You have committed criminal damage.’  Dan: ‘Prove it.’  Officer: ‘It is all on CCTV, but we are constrained from proceeding to prosecution.’

By the third day of our witness we were threatened with arrest should be continue our witness.  The same threats were repeated on other days.

On another day, and for the first time, two officers came into the park where we gather for prayer and preparations before walking to the MoD.  They said if we proceeded to do our usual work we would be arrested and a civil prosecution taken out on us by the owners of the Building.  The MoD police would not do it but the owners of the building would proceed with a civil prosecution.  This curious and confused message did not put us off, since we had been prepared all along for the possibility arrest and the opportunity to make our defence in the court. 

On another occasion a senior officer ordered us to move our protest and presence a meter and a half further away from the MOD, so we would be standing on the public footpath.  ‘We respect your right to protest but you must do so off the MoD property.  You need to move further away from the steps and on the other side of the line that separates the public footpath and the MoD.’  He tried to call us together, interrupting our leafleting in order to speak to us.  Sr. Susan stayed standing at the bottom of the steps, continued to hand out leaflets, and said ‘I can hear you just fine where I am.’  Dan agreed and added ‘I am not moving off MoD property.’  What followed was a 45 minute discussion as to the significance of the line in the pavement, our position, and the morality or otherwise of nuclear weapons, as well as continued leafleting.

Twice the markers and once a supporter were subject to a formal Stop and Search.  Both Martin and Dan refused to give them their name and other personal details.  This lack of information might frustrate civil prosecutions.

On another occasion we changed out usual time of marking because the police figured out our Friday pattern.  Getting there at 7 a.m. was a shock to them.  One PC said: ‘It looks like you discovered your alarm clock.’  And as Susan, Dan and Angela were being shouted at by one security man, Martin, unnoticed, continued to write whole sentences.  One in big letters read: ‘Thus says the Lord: disarm your hearts and your nuclear weapons too!’

On the final day, the final approach from the senior officer was a question and warning: ‘Who is in charge?’  And ‘you must ask for permission to demonstrate otherwise you will be liable for arrest.’  Dan’s response: ‘We have been protesting here for 25 years and have never asked permission.’

The nuclear war preparations of this Government are likely to continue.  People of faith will continue to respond to this immoral and illegal situation. 

Dan Martin

Caught in the Crossfire of
Collateral Damage

By Ray Towey

Sometimes one particular patient can cause you to pause and reflect and Martha Okello,(not her real name but the photo is of herself and her mother with permission) a 10 year old girl and patient on the Intensive Care Unit, ICU, for 2 months is one patient whose story I would like to share. She was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army a few months ago, a rebel group that has been fighting the government troops in Northern Uganda for 20 years and when the government troops caught up with the rebels she was shot in the leg in the crossfire. The wound was bad but not so severe that she needed intensive care but one week later she developed a condition known as tetanus caused by a wound infection.

Many thousands of people and many of them babies die from tetanus in Africa each year and it is a very distressing condition and often a very painful death. The body is thrown into very strong spasms which look like epilepsy and without treatment and even with the limited treatment in Africa most will die from failure to breathe.

So I first came across Martha when she was admitted with tetanus in the ICU earlier this year. Our first line drugs were not working so we decided after much thought to use a treatment which is more expensive and more challenging to all the staff because it meant she would need to have a tracheostomy, a surgical opening in her neck, and would need to be placed on a ventilator for 3 weeks which is a big commitment of care from our nurses and clinicians.

Even with this care we could not guarantee a cure but it was her only hope and we embarked upon it. As you can see from her photo taken just a few weeks ago she survived and although her leg is still in the process of healing she should leave hospital well. Martha has a very wonderful smile as you can see in the photo and she often came to visit us in the ICU after she was discharged back to the ward and all the staff were delighted in her visits and in her obvious gratitude. So what have we learnt from Martha and what do I reflect upon?

In a medical context with the help of your donations we have found that for the bigger children tetanus can be successfully treated with both first line drugs such as magnesium and also with a tracheostomy and ventilation. Tetanus is a major killer in Africa but at least for the bigger children in our setting there is some hope. Our current priority is to buy another ventilator and continue to obtain more tracheostomy tubes from the donations we have.

In 20 years of practice in UK I cannot recall ever seeing a single patient with tetanus because with a few cheap injections almost the whole population is immunised against this condition. In Africa the extreme poverty of the medical infrastructure of basic healthcare means that many thousands are just not immunised adequately and in an area with 20 years of insecurity and with thousands of children being abducted to be sex slaves or child soldiers the weak infrastructure collapses completely. 

She is a victim of war in many ways. She was shot in the crossfire and that was a direct result but she was not immune from the complications of such wounds and that makes her a double effect casualty of war. She is the human face of the so called collateral damage of war and it is all preventable. The evidence is clear that when war comes malnutrition and diseases increase. When human beings choose the violent solution the children die. The LRA rebels believe the ten commandment of the Judeo-Christian faith should be the basis of a new government. As usual all protagonists in war claim to have God on their side. This seems to be true in Europe as in Africa and the Middle East. It is not a God I can recognise as to me the God who loves the poor does not inflict collateral damage on children.

Even in parts of Africa where there is no violent conflict tetanus remains a major cause of death. The healthcare infrastructure is very fragile as there are just too little funds available. If a small fraction of the money spent on war was directed to healthcare we would see a major change. Every global preventable disease is the collateral damage of our global wrong choices. It could be so different if we made a better choice for life. The sad truth is that most children like Martha just don’t survive but we thank God for the part we and our donors have made in her recovery and pray for a change of heart in those who justify war and its inevitable collateral damage and waste of resources.

Dr Ray Towey,, is a long-time member of CPA. This article was published in his August 2006 Newsletter as a medical missionary in Uganda with the Volunteer Missionary Movement.  His support website is

December 2005 newsletter


December 2005

Dear Friend,

Please note the enclosed invitation to join us during Lent 2006. Let us know if you have any questions or if we can assist you in anyway in order to help you respond to this invitation from Pax Christi and us.

A few of us have re-started the direct communications with Ministry of Defence workers, handing out leaflets either at lunchtime or when they come into work. Let us know if you would like to join us. We have done three sessions since September and hope to continue, at least once a month. Liz Yates, one of the leafleters, has said, ‘It is imperative that we attempt to be as visually present as possible during these times.’

On Holy Innocents day last year, Liz and four others (Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Angela Broome, Scott Albrecht) went to the MOD to dig graves and write on the walls in protest of the war in Iraq. For some unknown reason Angela was not arrested. The others were convicted of Criminal Damage on 6 June. After a day of moving testimony and at times vigorous discussion with the prosecutor, the magistrate made it clear that ‘it is not for this court to decide the legality or not of the Iraq war.’ They received various levels of fines and orders to pay compensation to the MoD. The bailiffs have already sent letters to Liz, who has informed them that she has no intention of paying.

On 16 November, Voices in the Wilderness (UK) founder Milan Rai was sentenced to 28 days imprisonment for refusing to pay £2000 ‘compensation’ to the British Government for spray-painting the Foreign Office with the words “Don’t Attack Fallujah. Black Watch Out” on 3 November 2004, just days before last year’s devastating US assault on the city (see for background and pictures).

The Christmas season is fast approaching. We wish you strength in Spirit, health in body, and a joyous time with loved ones.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers of support for peace,

Carmel and Dan Martin
Pat Gaffney

60th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

On 9 August, Dan Martin and Angela Broome chained themselves to the front door of the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall; they encouraged the closure of the MoD for the day in order to commemorate the incineration of Nagasaki 60 years ago and prevent future crimes against humanity. After a warning from the police and a refusal to leave the area the police cut the chains and carried/dragged the two down the steps, off the property. They were then told they could demonstrate freely there. No arrests were made. The two joined supporters and continued to distribute the leaflet below.
Close the Ministry of Defence
9 August 2005

Dan 9 August 2005
Writing on the MoD 9 August 2005
Angela Broome 9 August 2005

In Memoriam

We call on all staff to return home and reflect on the anniversary of the incineration of Nagasaki, Japan, 60 years ago today; and to reflect on the nuclear war preparations carried out in the Ministry of Defence.

On Nov. 7, 1995, the mayor of Nagasaki recalled his memory of the attack in testimony to the International Court of Justice: ‘Nagasaki became a city of death where not even the sound of insects could be heard. After a while, countless men, women and children began to gather for a drink of water at the banks of nearby Urakami River, their hair and clothing scorched and their burnt skin hanging off in sheets like rags. Begging for help they died one after another in the water or in heaps on the banks.’

Quoted in ‘Apocalypse Soon’ by Robert S. McNamara, former Secretary of Defense of the USA, who further states:

‘Four months after the atomic bombing [of Nagasaki], 74,000 people were dead, and 75,000 had suffered injuries, that is, two-thirds of the city population had fallen victim to this calamity that came upon Nagasaki like a preview of the Apocalypse.
‘This in a nutshell is what nuclear weapons do: They indiscriminately blast, burn, and irradiate with a speed and finality that are almost incomprehensible.’
‘I would characterize current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous.’

Robert S. McNamara | Apocalypse Soon;

Where Mr McNamara speaks of ‘US nuclear weapons policy’, we believe the UK policy, though with fewer nuclear weapons, is qualitatively the same: ‘immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous.’

The Ministry of Defence should be closed today:
• In memory of the atomic victims of yesterday and today (victims are still dying as a result of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
• As an act of repentance for that horrendous slaughter and for continued readiness to the repeat it, on a much greater scale.
• As an act of penance, however slight, to right this wrong.
• As an act of reparations for the money stolen from the poor of this world because of nuclear war preparations.
• As acknowledgment of our hypocrisy in the eyes of the world. While we possess, and are willing to actually use these horrendous weapons, we preach and enforce restraint to some countries (Iran, Iraq, North Korea) and ignore others (Israel).
• To give us a chance to recover our humanity and let our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh.
• Because nuclear weapons are not safe in anyone’s hands.
Catholic Peace Action

Peace-making on Ash Wednesday and in Lent 2005
In London over 50 attended a service followed every subsequent Wednesday by a few people to stand and pray, hold banners and sometimes mark the building with the ash/charcoal of repentance. Others held vigils and took action in Oxford (including the Oxford Catholic Worker), Cambridge and Newcastle. Let’s build on the past 24 years of witness against nuclear war preparations and make Lent 2006 more responsive to the ‘cry of the poor’ and the call of the peace of Christ.

Dan Martin said these few words at the Ash Wednesday service in London:

From the Vatican II document: ‘The arms race is a crime against God and humanity and injures the poor to an intolerable degree.’

Since this was written in 1965, we, as a church, have done little, or at least not enough, to show how intolerable this demon race is. We have tolerated numerous wars, an ever-quickening arms race and first-strike nuclear weaponry. The moral shadow this casts on our lives has been with us for so long, for most people it is hardly noticeable. Shadow becomes day and war is only twilight,

Like nocturnal creatures we have got used to the moral darkness; we open our eyes wide and because of that we think we can see.

We tolerate the race to oblivion by the building of weapons, which are immoral in ethical terms and unusable in military terms. We tolerate the unthinkable by our actual willingness to use these weapons. We tolerate the theft from the poor both in this country and throughout the world, which the production of these weapons represents.
Can this demon be cast out? ‘Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief.’ Mk 9:24

To The Black Watch – Largesse

By George Clark

“Home” he said, “by Christmas” “After your work is done.”
“Home to the wives and kiddies” “Free of the desert sun.”
“Home” he said “by Christmas”
“Choir boys lauding God”
“Presents in the Children’s hands”,
“Mince pies on the hob.”

“Home” he said, “by Christmas”
“After your work is done.”
“Work with the knife and bayonet”
“Peace from the mouth of the gun.”
Bush babies burn in the waste land,
Black hawks shatter the sky,
Foxes die on the stubble, Politics stink of the lie.

“Home” he said, “by Christmas”
“To warmth in the manger’s hay.”
“Angels and saints enfold you”
“Tho thousands may die on the way”
The cry of the new-born Christ-child
Keens the dead of this guiltless war.
“Home” he said, “by Christmas.”
“You can’t possibly ask for more.”

(The Black Watch regiment (an 850 strong force) provided support for US forces during the invasion of Falluja in November 2004. In the same month, the Prime Minister announced to the House of Commons the regiment would be home by Christmas. Most were; but five were killed during the month-long deployment to Camp Dogwood in central Iraq.

(Update 2012: this piece is reproduced to correct a one-line omission in the poem when it was first published in the 2005 December edition of the Catholic Peace Action newsletter.)

Demonstration at Dimona
Incident at the Bethlehem Checkpoint

By Carmel Martin
(In April this year, Carmel accompanied the 2nd international delegation to Israel since the release of Mordechai Vanunu. The hopes were that Mordechai would be allowed to leave Israel after a year since his release from almost 18 years in prison; but the restrictions were renewed for another year. It was a very full week of witnessing to peace and supporting Mordechai. For more information about this year’s delegation and the UK campaign, contact us and we will send the latest (and final) bulletin. Mordechai is currently under house arrest for violating his travel restrictions.)

(Mordechai 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.)

As we made the long coach journey to Dimona there was no doubt that we were in occupied territory. Several military planes flew over while we travelled and the presence of the army was evident by the roadside.

We saw eight or ten army trucks parked just off the road and a large group of soldiers standing around a man in a white t-shirt who was sitting in the road, his fate unknown.
We arrived and gathered our posters and banners from the bus and began setting up for our vigil and witness under the scorching heat of the sun and in the shadow of the Dimona nuclear weapons factory.
Assembled were a group of international representatives from across the world including, Japan, Ireland England Norway, Israel and the United States of America.
Dimona was perhaps the most significant of all the places we had been during our few days in Israel.

It represented the witness of Mordechai Vanunu and his resistance to Israel’s government’s secret Nuclear Weapons Policy and production – the reason for his willingness to sacrifice his life to publicise its lethal potential.

Standing in close proximity to the site of such destructive and evil capability sent a chill down the spine.

The speakers were eloquent, dignified and moving in their delivery and in the content and power of their contributions.

The first speaker reminded us graphically of what was prevented by Mordechai’s act of resistance nineteen years ago. She was Ryoko Normq from Hiroshima. Her presence needed no words but she spoke movingly of the need for the world to disarm and prevent another Hiroshima from happening. She spoke about the continued suffering of the people that would be inevitable if these horrendous weapons were ever used.

I spoke and also invited everyone to scatter ashes in the desert as a symbol of what we would become should these weapons be used. I linked the witness at Dimona with the repentance and resistance that many others and I have been part of at the Ministry of defence in Whitehall, London for the past twenty-one years. ‘Countless others around the world are inspired by the high price of eighteen years spent in prison by Mordechai Vanunu.’

‘Only by exposing these places to the scrutiny of the public is it possible to begin the process of building a movement towards peace, a wound that is not exposed to the air will fester and infect the body, sometimes to the point of death. The hidden work of evil and corruption requires persistent struggle and a deep faith that peace is actually possible.’

I then read a defiant message from Mordechai.

‘Dimona is a real holocaust. The Israelis are producing Genocide weapons here. End the production of these genocide weapons. Shut Dimona.’

The next speaker was Nobel Peace Laureate Mairaed McGuire who made an impassioned plea for Israel to denounce Nuclear Weapons and sign the non- proliferation treaty. Other speakers included Rayna Moss from Israel, Kathy Kelly from Chicago, Knesset member Issam Makoul, Israeli poet Mati Shmueln and Akiva Orr also from Israel.
Mordechai Vanunu’s poem ‘I am your spy’ was read in Irish by one of the Irish delegates, Justin Morahann.
Entertainment and music was provided by Ben Inman from London who played his trumpet as he had done so passionately on the occasion of Mordechai’s release from prison twelve months earlier.
A group of Israeli grannies, dressed in aprons and hats covered in flowers, sang political protest songs with gusto and astute perception of the suffering of Mordechai and the Palestinian people in particular.

Incident at the Bethlehem Checkpoint

We went a few times to a particular Café, one of Mordechai’s favourite places to eat, a rooftop overlooking Jerusalem, and got to know one of the waiters there. On our last visit we were disappointed that he was not there.
We assumed it must be his day off. He arrived just before we left and he shared with us the reasons for his delay. He made the journey to work every day from Bethlehem to Jerusalem across a checkpoint. There are six members of his family and he is the only one who works. The others are dependent on his wage to keep the family going.
That morning his neighbour needed to travel to the hospital for dialysis. She did not have papers but he did and he agreed to accompany her through the checkpoint. He pleaded with the soldiers at the checkpoint to allow her entry and they eventually agreed to let her through but told him he would have to stay there for ten hours. He told them they could keep him for twelve hours, he did not mind as long as she was allowed through.
Then the soldiers began to take off their helmets, a sign that they are no longer considered to be on duty and also that they were about to beat him. The leader and most aggressive soldier was a woman. This was the festival of Passover and he told us that it was usual for them to put the most aggressive soldiers on duty during the holiday times. Again he told the soldiers that it was ok if they beat him up, he was not a troublemaker, he was non- violent. He stood with his head bowed and his hands behind his back and prepared himself for a beating.
After a couple of hours of waiting like this with the soldiers trying to provoke him, finally the police arrived and eventually they let him go. He would spend the following night sleeping at the restaurant to avoid this conflict at the checkpoint and to be sure he would not miss work the next day. He had enabled his neighbour to ‘Passover’ and receive the medical help she so desperately needed.
It is difficult to imagine the effect such continual harassment and brutality would have on people when they are required to live in this way at every moment of their lives. This young man is certainly one of the many silent heroes of the country. However, as Mordechai himself said, ‘It is not enough to be a hero, you have to know how to survive.’
The beautiful, forgiving and generous spirit of this young man was witness to the belief that goodness can overcome evil and its power is unquenchable.

Greenham – Non-violent Women-v-The Crown Prerogative
by Sarah Hipperson
A Review by Ray Towey
This is a book that is essential reading for anyone who looks back to the 80s and 90s and reflects on a time when the Cold War was at its height, Mrs. Thatcher’s government dominated the political arena, Mr. Heseltine Secretary of State for Defence was telling Parliament that protesters ran the risk of being shot and to be a peace activist often meant regular visits to court and sometimes jail. The women’s witness at Greenham Common against the installation of 96 cruise missiles each one with the explosive power of 16 Hiroshima bombs was an escalation of nuclear madness that became intolerable for thousands of people and resulted in scores of affinity groups developing and searching out non-violent ways of responding. Sarah Hipperson a founder member of Catholic Peace Action and a Greenham Common women peace activist was at the forefront of these activities and this is in many ways her story of Greenham. For me her journey is a fascinating story partly because my own faith journey brought me into membership of Catholic Peace Action and I was one of the support people who assisted in Sarah’s first non-violent action, which was at the Ministry of Defence London in 1983.
As Sarah puts it: ‘I had crossed over an invisible line, which marked out a commitment to no longer being a bystander.’

The line she crossed then, she was to cross so many times over the next 19 years at Greenham with severe consequences of many terms in jail. To live at Greenham was a hard choice with much harassment and brutal treatment by the authorities. For us in London with so many informed eyes watching and our secure and warm homes to go back to was a much gentler option. The peace camp at the early stages became a women only peace camp which she describes in her book as being strategically the right decision. The hardest process in taking actions of non-violent civil disobedience is not the police and courts but building the support community and I was always very respectful of the choice the women had made. There were so many military establishments available it was hardly going to limit others who wished to confront the nuclear madness with a different support community.

The book is short, 183 pages, has many black and white photographs and is essentially in two parts. The first includes some of Sarah’s personal background, a reflection on non-violence and a timeline of actions of significance to her during her stay at the camp for 19 years. It is of course necessarily brief in a book of this size but I would have liked to have read more on these topics, indeed you could have one book alone devoted to these topics coming from a Christian women with such a life experience. The second part is a description of the legal struggle against the State that accompanied her journey. This is by its nature complex and requires some detailed study but the result is an insight into the legal culture that permits the genocidal nuclear weapons to be given the full legal protection of the State. In short the legal structures are a culture of death and the so called “Crown Prerogative” puts the nuclear war plans above the law. However there were significant legal successes such as establishing the voting rights of the peace camp residents and the over turning of the byelaws which had been introduced to illegally arrest up to one thousand women.

The final chapter relates to the setting up of the Greenham Commemorative and Historic Site which now occupies the very place at which the Yellow Gate peace camp was situated and all monies generated from this book go towards the maintenance of this Commemorative and Historic Site. The real value of this book is that it is told from someone who lived the non-violent struggle herself with passion, commitment and persistence and took the often harsh and painful consequences.
Published, 2005, by Greenham Publications, 15 Sydney Road, London E11 2JW; Cheques payable to ‘Greenham Publications’, £11.04 (this includes p&p).

Ray Towey,, is a medical missionary currently working in Uganda with the Volunteer Missionary Movement and his support website is

Round up December 2004

December 2004

Dear Friend,

As the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘terror of war’ takes in more victims we pray ever more deeply for peace and the courage to make peace and say ‘No’ to our own weapons of mass destruction.

It seems our efforts during Ash Wednesday and Lent take on a greater significance every year.  We try to expand this witness every year but that is not possible without more people taking that extra step towards resistance.  A leaflet is in preparation for this year’s event, which will list areas other than London, like Leeds, Derby and Liverpool.  So far, confirmed out-of-London actions are:

Newcastle City Centre.  Christine Wickens; Tel: 0191 281 4168

Cambridge: Stewart Hemsley;

If you can organise a vigil or possibly resistance for Ash Wednesday (9 February 2005) or some day during Lent or need some help to do so, let us know.  Join us where and when you can.  The London liturgy will begin at 3 pm, in Embankment Gardens, off Horseguards avenue, SW1.  If you would like to participate in civil disobedience get in touch with one of the names on the leaflet or contact us for a meeting in London on 12 January.

There is growing menace and tragedy for so many people, but there are signs of hope too, even if not fully realised.  We think of Mordechai Vanunu’s release from prison after 18 years.  Very much unbroken and still committed to peace work and against nuclear weapons, his endurance and humanity have prevailed against the harshest of treatments.  He is an inspiration to all of us to keep on keeping on.  Carmel attended his release and writes (below) of her time there.  His journey to freedom is not yet complete as he is still confined to Israel, so the struggle continues in so many ways.

We wish you and your loved ones a joyous and holy Christmas.  May the light of peace shine ever brighter in 2005!

Yours in solidarity

Dan and Carmel Martin

Pat Gaffney

‘Mordechai Vanunu is the most significant man to walk out of prison since Nelson Mandela’

A Week In Israel: April 2004

(Below is one excerpt from a much longer account of Carmel’s journey, the time outside Ashkelon Prison just before Mordechai’s release.  If you donated towards her travel expenses we should have enclosed the full article.  Please let us know if it is missing.  Of course, the article is available to anyone on request.)

…We vigiled outside the prison on Tuesday, the day before the expected release and on the morning of his release, from about 8 a.m.  As the time of release came closer, the media, the crowds and the intensity multiplied.  The hostility was electric, placards were burnt, arguments provoked, abuse shouted.  I felt threatened, but in my ignorance of the language should have felt terrified.  I did not know what was being chanted.

One vociferous protagonist looked at me and said in a threatening way, ‘You are very fragile’.  ‘Yes, we are all fragile,’ I quipped.  He passed along the barrier, which separated us to continue the confrontation.  The police stood by, being little more than spectators.

Ben, a member of the delegation, played his trumpet and sounded above the throng ‘Joshua at the battle of Jericho and the walls come tumbling down’.  The music was a balm of healing peace which abated the swelling potential for violence.

The situation resembled being at sea, as the swell of abuse rose, we sang peace, shalom, the angry wave subsided.

I am convinced that our non-violent presence at the gate of Ashkelon Prison on April 21st not only enabled Mordechai Vanunu to be released, it actively prevented a riot from erupting.

At the time of release we planned to set free 18 white doves to symbolise each one of the eighteen years of imprisonment.  They were released amid a throng of reporters taking photographs, filming and confusion.  One flew free and entered the prison.

I moved away from the enclosed pen to form a protective ring around Mordechai should he decide to walk out to greet supporters, as he so badly wanted to do.

The pigeon flew out of the prison moments before Mordechai emerged through the blue prison gates in his brother’s car with his hand pressed against the car window, in a gesture of unbending defiance, reminiscent of his capture.  Hostile crowds gave chase, shouted, banged on the roof of the car, threw their chilling blackened roses, symbols of death to Mordechai.

I did not expect to see him again.

The crowd became increasingly hostile.  We gathered together and made our way back to the coaches.  Eggs were thrown, stones too–we were very fragile…

Carmel Martin  June 2004


Fighting the Lamb’s War: Skirmishes with the American Empire,

The autobiography of Philip Berrigan

By Philip Berrigan with Fred Wilcox

Introduction by David Dellinger, pp 226

Readers will know that Philip Berrigan died 6 December 2002.  This autobiography, written in 1996, covers his time as a proud warrior for the empire in World War II to be one of its fiercest non-violent adversaries.  I look forward to reading it so this is not a review. 

But to quote from Walter Wink, author of Engaging the Powers: ‘Few nations in history have had a prophet of Phil Berrigan’s stature.  With iron intransigency he has stood in the breach leading to nuclear omnicide.  The state has tried to quash his witness time after time: arrests, lockups, long sentences, all the paraphernalia of intimidation.  Why doesn’t it work?  What enables this jack-in-the-box prophet to pop up, again and again?  Find out. Read this book.’  To read this book, send a £12 cheque (this includes p&p) payable to ‘Dan Martin’ to the CPA address. 

2 October 2004, Greenham Common

A commemoration of the life and witness of Philip Berrigan

For this gathering, spearheaded by Sarah Hipperson, we were very pleased to welcome to this country and to the Greenham Common Memorial Site Frida Berrigan, the daughter of Philip.  She spoke movingly and encouragingly of her father, his peace work and Christian witness.  Her complete text is at along with some nice pictures.  Ourselves, Pax Christi, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and Christian CND co-sponsored the event.

Mordechai Vanunu protest at Israeli Embassy

On 30 September 1986, agents of the Israeli state kidnapped Mordechai Vanunu from Rome.  After 18 years in prison he was released on 21 April but is still prevented from leaving the country by the Israeli government.  To protest this ongoing oppression, on 30 September this year, Dan, Ernest Rodker, David Polden, Adeline O’Keeffe, Angela Broome, Hope Liebersohn, as members of the Campaign to free Vanunu and for a Nuclear Free Middle East, chained themselves to the gates of the Israeli Embassy.  We then put on masks depicting the face of Mordechai.  We wore T-shirts with the simple message:  Let Vanunu Go!

Vanunu has served his full sentence; he is not charged with any new offence and yet he is not a free man and he continues to be treated like a criminal.  His life is also in danger, from far-right groups, as shown by the many death threats made against him.

The use of chains at the Israeli Embassy symbolizes the restrictions imposed on Mordechai by the Israeli government.  Every day that Mordechai Vanunu is denied full rights of citizenship is a day of danger for him and a day of shame for the Israeli government.

As of this writing the harsh restrictions remain so the campaign and protest continues.  For more information and a great picture (!) log onto

A Week In Israel: April 2004

I had often dreamed of visiting Israel. A number of friends returned from this holy place with descriptions that left me awe-struck. Some returned bearing gifts, mementos, of the place I often wished I could see for myself. A small stone from the garden of Gethsemane, a larger one from the Sea of Galilee. Treasures like gems and the closest I would come to being in the very place that Our Lord had lived and moved and had his being.

It was a dream that was realised in a most unexpected way.

For the last three years Dan has been a regular vigiler and supporter of the Free Mordechai Vanunu campaign outside the Israeli Embassy in London. Our involvement in the peace movement over the last twenty-five years has a connectedness with many of the international supporters of the campaign, especially with Felice and Jack, authors of the Nuclear Resister and Art Laffin, Washington Catholic worker and peace campaigner.

Our peace activities and years of civil disobedience outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, the resistance to our government’s nuclear war preparations, our fasts, vigils and civil disobedience has a resonance and logical empathetic interconnectedness with the courageous witness of Mordechai Vanunu.

Undoubtedly, I would never attempt to make a comparison, which must be articulated for fear of misunderstanding. However, the interconnectedness of purpose and desire for a world free of Nuclear weapons and the price that such a path demands, weaves us together into a cloth, which is still in the making.

As the date for Mordechai’s release came closer, people, as many who were willing and able were invited to go to Israel to be present outside the prison on the day of his expected release. I considered the possibility. It was a daunting prospect and one, which I admit left me uneasy. I attended the planning meetings before making a firm decision. The donation of a friend towards my fare prompted or rather pushed me to make the decision to join the delegation. I tried to persuade Dan that really he should be the one to go. We were unsure if the release would go ahead. Dan had spearheaded an international response should there be any problems on the day of release. Plans had been made to participate in acts of resistance at Israeli Embassies around the world should things not go as planned. Dan needed to be in London to be part of that protest. He could not go to Israel.

Sean, my second son articulated his displeasure at my decision. ’Come on Mum—it’s not on, if anything happens I won’t have another mum’. Daniel, the eldest who was acutely aware of the international climate as he was about to depart on a trip taking him around the world for four months, warned me that the advice to people from the Foreign Office was not to travel to Israel unless absolutely essential. It is dangerous! After twenty-three years the roles of mother warning sons to be careful had reversed. I know that the harder path is taken by the one who remains at home and worries!
During the next few weeks I was overwhelmed by the generosity and deeply appreciated the prayerful support of many friends who responded so generously to my appeal for donations.

I set off for the airport still unsure of what I would say in Tel-Aviv when questioned about the reasons for my visit. Ernest, who was well known had already arrived in Israel, had been held and questioned for five hours. I anticipated similar treatment and the possibility of being turned back. At Heathrow I met four others who were part of the delegation and who I had seen at the planning meetings. With one exception,Jasmin a muslim woman I had spoken to on the telephone a few days before and had discussed the possibilities of how we might be treated.

We boarded the plane and sat separately. We queued at Tel-Aviv to have our passports stamped. Jasmin had a clear idea of what she would say. She was here to look at the University with the intention of returning to study. She would not mention the real reason. Her concern was that she would be treated differently because of her name and appearance. By this time, although still not completely sure, I thought the best policy was to be open but to not give all the information straight away. I told Jasmin I would tell them I was here to meet a friend who was being released from prison!
I was concerned for Jasmin and lined up behind her. The queue we were in was exceptionally slow and the people ahead of us were questioned by a young Israeli woman for a long time. This did not look good to me so I suggested to Jasmin that we join another line. I had the responsibility of keeping an eye on what happened to her. I moved into another line and watched as Jasmin was being questioned.

‘Carmel, what is the reason for your visit?’ The familiarity of being called by my first name was un-nerving. I smiled anyway, ‘I am a teacher and I am here to visit some important religious sites, ‘and people’ ‘ I had intended to say but this was interrupted by another question.’ Where are you staying?’ That gave it away, we were all staying at the Old Jaffa Hostel including Ernest! ‘How long do you plan to stay? Which group, invited you? Who are these people who invited you?’ ‘None, I came alone, no one invited me.‘ A wry smile, a stamp and that was it. I was allowed entry. I looked at the line where Jasmin had been and she was not there. Perhaps she was already through. I walked slowly to collect the luggage. I held back, conscious that I could not appear to be waiting. After about twenty minutes of aimless wandering I wondered if Jasmin had gone through already, so I made my way out.

Rammi called my name from the sea of faces waiting to greet relatives in the airport arrivals section. It was great to see a familiar face and we soon realised Jasmin had been taken for questioning. I was not outside the airport yet and I had failed. I was supposed to look after her!

Felice and I greeted each other warmly and it was decided that Felice, Art, Raynia and I would go on to Jaffa and the others would wait for Jasmin. It was wonderful to see Rayna again. My heart lifted when I saw Art, a newly (relatively) married man, still widely smiling. Although it had been about five years since we had seen each other we greeted as if it were yesterday!

The hostel was situated in the Old Arab section of Jaffa, the location of the Old Testament story of Jonah being spewed out of the mouth of the whale. It was a once grand building owned by the richest family in the area and then during war time was seized and occupied by the army. The day was unusually quiet because we arrived on the Sabbath and everything was shut. Adjacent to the Hostel was a normally bustling market which sold furniture, clothes and bric-a-brac. We were greeted at the door of the hostel by Ernest.

In the next few days this large hostel would fill with delegates, politicians and even a film star, people from all over the world. There were a few permanent residents who lived here together with a variety of their animals. The cost of living in the hostel was less expensive for them than renting and paying bills in other accommodation. They watched us curiously and with caution. They could not have imagined the disruption that would soon descend upon them.

The rooms were mostly dormitories with some double rooms. There was a large kitchen area and a roof space big enough for meetings and from where there was a glimpse of the Mediterranean above the roof tops. Felice and I wanted to share a double room to use as an office. After a lot of door opening and being led into rooms and told, here you can have this room, only to discover once inside that the rooms were already occupied, we are finally given a large room with a very high ceiling and a little viranda overlooking the street market. It felt as if the occupants had fled fifty years ago, leaving all their photographs on the walls and even their records in the old radiogram standing in the corner. The records probably had not been disturbed since then, until Ernest’s curiosity investigated them!

Concerned about the lap-top I had brought, I ask if the rooms are secure- safe enough, but anything really valuable should be locked in the safe, which is really safe! We are each given keys, so I begin to feel secure. It turns out that each key opens every door in the place! The Old Jaffa Hostel has the feel of a French farce or Fawlty Towers!

That evening Art and I walked by the sea for a short while when the others were meeting. It was a beautiful evening and families and children were out walking, it was fairly quiet. A man out with his family spoke to us and commented on how we looked like we had no concerns. His comment chilled me, and seemed odd. Later in the evening we heard the news that Rantissi, Head of Hamaas had been killed. There is a high state of alert and we heard that it is now impossible to move about in Jerusalem or Bethlehem. I may not get to see the important religious sites that I told the immigration official I came to see.

We ate a meal at a local restaurant, come radical bookshop. The small group gathered and shared a meal of houmous, bread and various salads, we shared some beer, wine and stories together, an enriching evening.

At midnight I began to settle and felt compelled to make the first journal entry into the computer to report the days events to those who had given financial and spiritual support from home. I feared I would not remember the detail if I did not record some of what had transpired already that day. Felice left to speak to others who were still up. Jasmine had not returned and we feared that it was possible that she had been refused entry. It was now past midnight and we did not know her whereabouts.

Sunday: It was a relief to hear the news that Jasmine had arrived after midnight and was not too traumatised by her experience of being detained at the airport.

The day was spent at Rayna’s with Felice, Art and Ernest writing the press pack and the delegates orientation pack, copying statements from people from around the world, like Julie Christie, Emma Thompson, Daniel Elsberg, Ken Livingston and many others and trying not to miss anyone out! My typing skills are so limited I laughed with Ernest at the prospect of me trying to efficiently do the typing. I wondered why Rayna was the only Israeli there prepared to put in the work necessary at this crucial moment. It still mystifies me. I find it difficult to comprehend that there was not one other local person available to do the work. Rayna, her husband and son had their home taken over by us for the week and their hospitality and patience were more than gracious. The days work was long and intense and our gathering late that evening for a meal together was welcome. A few more delegates had arrived at the hostel when we went back late into the night.

Monday was filled with the prospect of the large delegates meeting that evening for orientation. We spent the day working as we had on Sunday, and heard that the lawyer Mordachai had sacked earlier this year had been reinstated by him. Ransinni’s assassination has meant that there has been a three-day strike, shops are closed and everything is very quiet. Mary and Nick, Mordechai’s adoptive parents are not to talk to the Israeli press.

We returned briefly to the hostel at about seven that evening to find that the group of delegates including Susanah York, Bruce Ken and David Polden had arrived. They had been detained at the airport since three-thirty.

We walked to the upper room where the evening meal had been arranged. It was most moving to be in the presence of probably one hundred people focused and united in purpose, including Mordechai’s brother Meir. After we ate people began to speak. Meir announced to a stunned, silence that a journalist had said that all we need in this situation was a ‘Jack Ruby.’ Meir said he was thinking of asking the Mossad agents to provide his brother with a bullet-proof vest. I felt the same chill that I had felt on the first evening.

Nick and Mary had a very upsetting visit with Mordechai and they were both in tears as they described how he had been earlier that day. Stringent restrictions have been imposed, not talking to foreigners or foreign press included. So Nick and Mary may be in the situation where they will only be able to speak to their adopted son once more before he is released, and afterwards are prevented from doing so.

After listening to the moving testimonies, we discussed the practicalities of the evening and following days including the possibility that a few people were considering spending the night outside the prison in case the release were to happen earlier than scheduled. It was decided this may cause more problems and the idea was abandoned. We also talked about the idea of releasing eighteen white doves at the moment of Mordechai’s release, symbolically one for every year of imprisonment. The idea was warmly endorsed by the delegation.

Once the formality of the evening was over I felt that I needed to tell Meir to thank his brother for the eighteen years of sacrifice he had made to make the world a safer place. I introduced myself, shook his hand and told him that I was part of a peace group that had been campaigning the British Government for the last twenty years to eliminate its reliance in Nuclear weapons, and some of us had served short prison sentences as a result and felt very much connected to Mordechai’s witness. I told him too that Dan had remained at home to do resistance at the London Israeli Embassy should things not turn out as expected on Wednesday. The idea of seeing Mordechai in person now seemed very remote, let alone the possibility of speaking to him.

I am a teacher and earlier in the year I taught a class of eleven-year old boys about Mordechai Vanunu. They were very moved by his courage and wrote lovely letters sending him stories and jokes and their perceptions of world events and football! They were full of questions about prison conditions and how he could have survived such cruel, harsh treatment.

During the Christmas holidays I compiled a file of their letters and wrote a message to the guards explaining their origins, which I had translated into Hebrew. The boys doubted Mordechai would receive them but I assured them he would.

We vigiled outside the prison on Tuesday, the day before the expected release and on the morning of his release, from about 8 a.m. As the time of release came closer, the media, the crowds and the intensity multiplied. Hostility was electric, placards were burnt, arguments provoked, abuse shouted. I felt threatened but in my ignorance of the language should have felt terrified. I did not know what was being chanted.

One vociferous protagonist looked at me and said in a threatening way, ‘You are very fragile’. ‘Yes, we are all fragile,’ I quipped. He passed along the barrier, which separated us to continue the confrontation. The police stood by, being little more than spectators.

Ben’s trumpet sounded above the throng ‘Joshua at the battle of Jericho and the walls come tumbling down’. The music was a balm of healing peace, which abated the swelling potential for violence.

The situation resembled being at sea, as the swell of abuse rose, we sang peace, shalom, and the angry wave subsided.

I am convinced that our non-violent presence at the gate of Ashkelon Prison on April 21st not only enabled Mordechai Vanunu to be released, it actively prevented a riot from erupting.

18 white doves, to symbolise each one of the eighteen years of imprisonment, were released amid a throng of reporters taking photographs, filming and confusion. One flew free and entered the prison.

I moved away from the enclosed pen to form a protective ring around Mordechai should he decide to walk out to greet supporters, as he so badly wanted to do.
The dove flew out of the prison moments before Mordechai emerged through the blue prison gates in his brother’s car with his hand pressed against the car window, in a gesture of unbending defiance, reminiscent of his capture. Hostile crowds gave chase, shouted, banged on the roof of the car, threw their chilling blackened roses, symbols of death to Mordechai.

I did not expect to see him again.

The crowd became increasingly hostile. We gathered together and made our way back to the coaches. Eggs were thrown, stones too- we were very fragile.

We journeyed back to Jaffa and on the way heard the voice of Mordechai Vanunu for the first time on the coach radio. ‘I am Mordechai Vanunu, I am proud to do what I did’.

The press and media were both a blessing and a curse. We put out so much material and interviews and were often disappointed with the result. But I managed to say what must have struck a chord with the Independent reporter who quoted me accurately for the paper the next day: ‘Mordechai Vanunu is the most significant man to walk out of prison since Nelson Mandela.’

‘Mordechai Vanunu is the most significant man to walk out of prison since Nelson Mandela.’

When we returned to the Old Jaffa Hostel we regrouped. Decisions had to be made about the planned evening supper celebration, telephones ringing, interviews, cameras, requests to speak with supporters for reactions to his release.

Felice was called away to do a radio interview. Ernest, Art and I were working when the telephone rang. ‘Hello Mordechai,’ Ernest spoke for a few moments and passed the phone to Art, then to me. ‘Thank you so much Mordechai for your eighteen years of suffering for the safety of the children of the world,’ I blurted out, scarcely able to fully comprehend what I was saying.

‘Carmel’, the voice said, ‘thank you so much for the beautiful letters you sent to me from the children you teach. I am so sorry that I could not write back to you.’

It is still incomprehensible to me, that this man who has suffered so much, was released from prison three hours previously, after enduring such cruelty, could emerge into freedom and know immediately who I was.

The evening celebration we had planned would have been magnificent. However the danger was too great. A restaurant with lots of glass would not be a safe venue in the circumstances.

We made our way to Jerusalem to the Bishop’s Palace, a destination known only to a few of us.

Again the scene was extraordinary, I saw Mordechai emerge at the back of a line which had formed to greet him. Befittingly, the first person he greeted was Ernest. Tears, hugs, embraces. From isolation, humiliation, punitive torture for so long. Now surrounded, enfolded in an embrace of love, human contact, conversations, tears, laughter.

His arms were strong and, like his will, made of iron. He wanted champagne and joked about what happened the last time he had champagne!

‘I wanted to fly free from the prison and leave Israel. We won- you can’t kill the human spirit. You are the heroes, those who have supported me these long years are the heroes.’ Then there was a toast to freedom for the Palestinian people, proposed by Mordechai with his first taste of champagne for eighteen years.

The hero remains enclosed in the confines of the Archbishop’s House, Jerusalem. We eagerly anticipate his complete flight fully into freedom. How long must we wait?

Carmel Martin
June 2004
Catholic Peace Action

Ash Wednesday 2004

February 2004

Dear Friend,

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.

Mordechai Vanunu

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.

The Campaign to Free Vanunu, 185 New Kent Road, London SE1 4AG; Tel/fax 020 7378 9324; e-mail: Website:

By George!

“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 Clark

May 2003

(George is a long time supporter of CPA, an atheist, and was a conscientious objector in World War II.)