Archive for June, 2008

Report & Youtube from Bush Visit to Belfast

June 20, 2008
As Unionist and Republican north of Ireland politicians welcomed U.S. President Bush to Stormont, a thousand gathered in protest at Belfast City Hall http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88005 , in an act of nvda an Irish Republican crew raised the Iraq flag over the town hall, 100 gathered at the gates of Stormont for anti-war speeches and the local anarcho punks performed a traditional U.S. flag burning http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikey_wikey/2584454641/in/…ream/
Later our christian anarchist crew attempted a nonviolent intervention on the Presidential convoy http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87990

Eamonn McCann of the recently acquitted Raytheon 9 www.raytheon9.org addressed the crowd outside Belfast Town Hall.

An excellent 7 minute speech worth a listen here…….
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88032

McCann, from Derry, was one of the civil rights organisers of the ’60’s. He would have helped organise the 1972 nonviolent civil rights march in Derry that was attacked by British paras leaving 13 unarmed protesters dead. That day is now known as “Bloody Sunday“. The violent state and death squad crushing of the civil rights movement led to 30 years of war in the north of Ireland. Scenes of that day are included in the following clip from the anarcho-punk Stiff Little Fingers along with their desire for an “Alternatve Ulster”.

Check out the 4 minute clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfOQ9b4GiyM

Derry is presently the home of a Raytheon plant (the 4th. largest arms company in the world). Raytheon was opened by Nobel Peace Prize winners Trimble and Hume. It was brought to Derry as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Go figure? Bush was in Stormont promising both Republican and Unionist politicians further such U.S. investment.

…and that’s the last i think i’ll ever see of George W. Bush…..

June 17, 2008
Previous Thread – The Emperor Has No Clothes – Off to Belfast to Confront a Butt Naked George Bush
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87990

Photo – I’ve always thought the best perspective on a Presidential Convoy was from Under a Pile of Cops!
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87990&comment_limit=0&c…30674

…and that’s the last I think I’ll ever see of George W Bush…..

by Ciaron – Catholic Worker/Plowshares, Back in Dublin – safe and sound!

Ok, the day ended with about 5 PSNI riot cops stacked on top of me playing twister with a variety of my limbs and a obstructed glimpse of what seemed like an enormous disco ball leading the convoy of security vehicles and the Bush limo down Castlereagh Rd. back to Airforce One.

A lefty speaker outside of Stormont sneered that the Bush tour was “merely symbolic”. Look mate the entire fuckin Presidency has been symbolic. This was not a 24/7 hands on “sure can guy do” Presidency. This was not Clinton who loved to press the flesh every which way or Daddy Bush well groomed in the CIA and who chose and groomed his son’s advisors. This was George W on the last lap. The secular left, with illusions of being oh so scientific, continually misunderstand the significance of symbol and symbolism….but don’t get me started that’s another story.

I hit Belfast the day before Bush and the word was coming through from others that folks had hit the streets in London. My intention was to form a christian anarchist affinity group, at least a faith based one, to get us through the day with the emperor in Belfast. The idea would be avoid the usual lefty wrestling over who is leading the movement and remain self active and mobile and see what opportunities arose to confront the emperor.

I hooked up with Mark Chapman – no not the guy who shot John Lennon he’s still sitting in Attica – my Mark Chapman was living in Liverpool during that unfortunate incident, which wasn’t a great address at the time to go with his name. I had orginally met Mark in London in the ’90’s he was involved with MIl Rai ad others in ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War). He is sound, softly spoken, understated and courageous – a local to the north. Mark also has a motorbike so that kept us mobile. We also put the word out to Jon from North Belfast a post evangelical christian anarchist goth punk and Rebecca from L’Arche who was unfortunately sick.

We whipped up a couple of placards Sunday night
“The Emperor Has No Clothes, Bush has No Clue, Resist the War!”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikey_wikey/2585280062/

“and “Raytheon Out of Derry, U.S. Military Out of Shannon, George Bush Out of Control!”

Monday morning we packed Mark’s “Justice Not Vengeance” banner and set off early to the city centre. We set up outside the Tesco and I started street speaking, Mark realised he had a dental appointment and pissed off, Jon arrived. We encouraged interested passers by to head to the City Hall for 12.30 where one of the socialist groups and a union were hosting an anti-Bush rally.

At 12.30 we headed there. It was a beautiful day and city workers were availing of the lunch break to make a statement against Bush, fair play to them! I was heartened to see a crew of young anarchist punks a sight that has all but disappeared from the streets of Dublin the last couple of years. The absence of a politicised youth subculture is like a canary karking it in the mine shaft…it’s a sign your culture has totally gone shopping and is dying.

Photos from Belfast City Hall Demo
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88005

All of a sudden a contingent of young Shinners marched up in a disciplined fashion in white t-shirts (Now some of my best friends are Shinners, my Daddy is basically a Shinner and I like my dad!)…but it seemed a little awkward ( I don’t know maybe it’s always awkward with Shinners and the rest of the left in Belfast) but how can you be hosting AND protesting Bush on the same day? But then again SDLP youth were there and the Greens, so go figure it was a beautiful day, the weather was great but the acoustics from the speaker’s platform were shite. So I thought, I’ll just go to the fringe of the crowd and start another platform as, trust me, no one could hear a thing from the main stage.

So off I went into street speaking mode. I really think anti-war rallies should be run like this….a period of everyone who wants to – speaking on a soapbox about the war and how to stop it and then conclude with a central platform with a couple of key notes and some music. But the left are deeply ritualistic and trad that you would have Buckleys ever getting this idea up.

Anyways I don’t know if it is Eamonn MCCann speaking style (he’d be loud enough unplugged) or the techies but the volume finally went up on the platform and so I shut up. Meanwhile some dudes had managed to fly an Iraqi flag form the top of City Hall…master stroke, really got the crowd going.

Apparently the SP were organising a manifestation out at Stormont where Bush was due. But Mark was keen on going to Market St. PSNI station and demanding the police arrest George Bush as a war criminal. Now after spending 30 years in and out of police stations and 2 years in out of jail, I have an ethical opposition to calling the cops on anyone…maybe even George W. If he was willing to place himself under voluntary house arrest at the Crawford Ranch in Texas I’d be happy enough. And as I pointed out earlier I don’t seem him as that significant in engineering the crimes he has put his name to. I also,as a rule, don’t like going voluntarily into police stations. But you know when you’re in an affinity group, or a community, you have to go along to get along or you end up on your lonesome with the other guy saying how come we only play the games you want to play etc. So we rounded up a posse of Quakers & such and headed down to Market St. police station.

I decided to play the silent guy in the background as Mark and the others did the talking. It seemed as though they had dome this before, they was pretty good at it. Listening in, it seemed like a reasonable request that this PSNI cop should immediately go up to Stormont and bust Bush. But the detective wasn’t going to leave his plexiglass comfort zone…his best response line was
“I don’t think there is any difficulty establishing where the man you are concerned about resides, if local authorities wish to take it up!”

So off to Stormont it was. Mark and the posse went for coffee and I was on foot with a lousy sense of direction and playing catch up. Did you know it’s illegal to hail a cab in a 3 mile radius of Belfast city centre neither did I, but I finally got one. There was a good crew at the gates of Stormont..maybe 80, I dunno my maths is about as good as my spelling. It was a good cross section of socialists, the anarcho punks, libertarian hippy types, school kids, young and old and then this guy turned up who really stole the show for a while…check him out
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikey_wikey/2585281100/

The SP did a good job of chairing it and they had speaking equipment that worked this time. They even asked me to speak. I rarely get asked to speak at lefty events in Australia, England or Ireland ..not sure if the lefties think I’m too f’kin crazy or too f’kin good to have speak..jury still out on that one! This has led to a life of spontaneous street speaking and nodules on my voicebox.. Anyway fair play, a pluralist relatively open platform. We were there for quite a while – but if there was a criticism we packed up too early. I’m not sure if this was because the media had packed up or the younger generation of activists get to anxty about the crowd not being permanently entertained. Retrospect is 20/20 vision but we should have stayed until he left as Bush eventually drove out of those gates.

Photo from Stormont Anti- Bush Rally
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikey_wikey/2584454641/

Mark and I were back on the bike and we were under the misunderstanding the SWP and Dublin bus had headed to the school where Bush was going to gig at 4pm. We drove up Castlereagh Rd. hill into an increasing density of cops. The side street into the school was blocked by cops. We reversed and tried another side street, dead end, as we tried to re-enter Castlreagh Rd. we were stopped by a policewoman and told the road was closed for the Presidential convoy coming soon.

We decided to park the bike and consider our options. And then we suffered some artistic differences. Mark was keen to unfurl a banner “Justice Not Vengeance” (I think?). I remembered we had been given small replica coffins at the city demo. I took them out and scrawled Casey Sheehan on one and Rose Gentle on another.

I had met Casey’s mother Cindy Sheehan in both Dublin and my hometown Brisbane. She had pretty much single handedly put the anti-war movement back on the radar by going down to Bush’s Crawford Ranch and refusing to move until she met with him. His refusal to meet her was deeply symbolic of his attitude to the cannon fodder he has sent to kill and be killed in Iraq. Casey Sheehan passed through Shannon Airport to his death in Baghdad.

Rose Gentle had stayed with us at the Catholic Worker in Dublin. Her son, Gordon, was recruited by the British military at the dole office in Glasgow. He was sent to his death in Iraq. Long after Bush has retired to his Texas Ranch and Blair is reaping the big bucks on the international lecture circuits young soldiers like Casey and Gordon will be dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. I thought it might be a good idea and symbolism to slide these “coffins” under Bush’s limo.

The cops had spotted Mark’s unfurled banner and called for backup. A PSNI landrover pulled up and a bunch of Robocop looking guys spilled out of the back. Two approached Mark and one me. He asked me my name, I refused to give it. He then detained me under section 44 of the Terrorism Act.
I said “Are you sure you’re not using the Terrorism Act to silence nonviolent anti-war dissent here?”
He said he wasn’t, I was unconvinced.

Just at the moment a Quaker, Anne, arrived on the scene cheerfully greeting me “Hi Ciaron!”
The cop without breaking stride “Do you spell that with a “C” or a “K”?
D’oh

My sense that he was trying to keep me busy and blocked until the impending convoy sped by. I just stepped over my bag and held my ground.
When I saw the first vehicle with a strobe like siren, I dropped to my right and flung the replica coffin across the road.
Then there were two cops on me. From a weird angle I saw the Presidential limo speed by.
Once we all got up he searched and returned my bag and gave me a receipt for me being detained under the terrorism act.
I had recently seen the film “Brazil” now I had a sense I was in it.

We began walking up the road, down the side street toward the school, we were stopped by cops half way up the road. The first bunch seemed happy enough for Mark and Ann to unfurl the banner and stand in silent witness. Then a more senior officer arrived and demanded the banner be folded and started frog marching a young German Quaker down the hill. I began to mosey off in that direction. Thinking I might be able to do an action down on the main road. Mark was putting up some worthy resistance to his civil liberties being crushed and was arrested. The cops weren’t going to let us stand at the side of the road and began frog marching me and the two others accross the road. As I reached the other side I attempted to fling the replica coffin back on the road where Bush would pass. These new cops got pretty excited and a whole bunch of them landed on me and went into restraint holds. I tried speaking to them calmly, reassuring them it was a wooden replica wooden coffin not an IED.

From the bottom of the human pile I told them who Casey Sheehan had been and about meeting his mother and of all the other folks American, British and Iraq who had lost loved ones in Bush’s war. I saw a glimpse off the Presidential convoy pass. They got off me, detained me, eventually released me and that’s the last I think I’ll ever see of George W Bush. He never came to Europe before he was President and I can’t see him coming again.

The Emperor Has No Clothes! – Off to Belfast to Confront a Butt Naked Bush!

June 15, 2008
Raytheon Outta Derry, U.S.Military Outta Shannon, George W Outta Control!

Reality check – the United States of America is an empire not a Republic. Go read some Gore Vidal if you need some convincing by someone a lot smarter and more charming than me.

Living at the centre of empire – any empire – is generally relatively cosey. Keep ya head down and your mouth shut and you’ll generally have a nice day. It can be kind of liberal and tolerant in the centre while on the fringes of empire the reality is fascism pure and simple You can say anything you want in the safety valve soundproof room of the arts in London , New York and Dublin (see the journo hack war cheer leaders and Irish war supporting politicians swaying to Leonard Cohen’s denunciation of U.S. warmaking last Friday night for example)…try dissent on the imperial fringe and they even kill artists there ……….and students and church folks and trade unionists and the list is endless…….

Less than a hundred years ago Dublin was on the fringe of empire, it looked a lot like Baghdad today – death squads, torture in Dublin Castle, military occupation on the streets. Less than 20 years ago, Belfast was on the fringe of empire – state backed military death squads, torture, internment et al.

Ireland – north and south, has been fast tracked to the centre of empire. The deal is if we keep our mouths shut, our heads down, we can reap from the upward mobility within the U.S. empire. The imperial troops will only stop over at Shannon, they will wait until they get to Baghdad to do the raping, killing, torturing and home wrecking. The arms companies will produce their hi tech shite in Derry, it will be dropped on other people in other places.

In the Roman empire they had an annual ritual where everyone would “burn incense for Ceaser” to recognise the emperor’s dominion. For the first three centuries Christians refused to do this, or serve in the Roman military, – for this we were criminalised. Not because we worshiped a different God. The Romans were quite flexible in conscripting God and Gods from defeated regions of Empire. We were criminal because we refused to take life – the image of God – in service empire.

So what are we asked to do as the Emperor comes to Belfast. The defeated dissidents, now ensconsed, are asked to offer hospitality, the rest of us are asked to maintain a defeated, if not diignified, silence.

Since George W came to Belfast last time (03) over one million Iraqis, mostly women and children (Lancet Report) have been slain. Most of the U.S. troops doing the slaying have passed through Shannon Airport, Ireland, to get to their victims.. 4,000 of their number have returned in body bags, 20,000 with serious injuries (amputations, loss of sanity etc) they will never recover from and another 20,000 evacuated with injuries they should recover from. Thousands of veterans have suicided on return.

Last time Bush came to Belfast there was tension in the air. We created it nonviolently on the streets http://www.indymedia.ie/article/60059 ….five years into this war, the war has no popular support and the visible opposition has evaporated from view. The opposition in Ireland to the war is massive and passive expressed clearly in the unanimous acquittals of the disabling and disarming
PItstop Ploughshares www.peaceontrial.com
and the recent Raytheon 9 www.raytheon9.org

It is important that people hit the streets in Belfast on Monday…downtown, Stormont, where they least expect it, wherever, whenever to confront the emperor to tell him and anyone in earshot that he has no clothes of credibility, that we don’t believe him or his war. To break the consensus of silence on behalf of people being butchered is a powerful and worthy thing.

Today the British government attempts to remove free speech from their people in London http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/06/400898.html so the emperor can have an easy ride down the last bloodsoaked lap of his Presidency. Long after Bush joins Blair, Howard and that Spanish dude in retirement – the wars they kickstarted will still be claiming victims on the fringe of empire. The question will remain will it claim our spirit and our silence at the centre? All that is asked of us in Belfast on Monday is our silence and sedation – as Bush gets on with the killing, Raytheon gets on with the profiteering and our local politicians get on with the collaboration.

Good luck, and respect, to anyone taking to the streets.

Solidarity with anti-war resisters in jails & brigs and before the courts

Military
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/

and Civilian
http://www.soaw.org/article.php?id=1621

Raytheon 9 Acquitted in Belfast

June 14, 2008
Raytheon 9 Acquitted in Belfast
http://www.raytheon9.org
Raytheon 9 Defendants Respond to their Acquittal
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87945

Youtube (4min) Catholic Worker  Solidarity Vigil at Dublin GPO with Raytheon 9
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87936

Here is Ciaron’s recent feature article on Indymedia which has updates on the proceedings:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87799

Below is a brief interview Damien Moran did with Eamonn McCann, one of the Raytheon 9 (www.raytheon9.org) and veteran civil rights campaigner from Derry, Northern Ireland, speaking from Qana, Lebanon, (July 2007) on the 1st anniversary of the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon with Raytheon produced missiles.

http://radio.indymedia.org/en/node/16892

This is a link to Damien Moran’s report from Lebanon last summer after spending time with members of the DAWC, Raytheon 9 visiting areas torn apart by he war.

Irish Activists in Lebanon on 1st Anniversary of Israel’s War
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/83681

I’m sure a full report of the day’s court proceeding, interviews with the defendants, etc. will follow soon. Please keep an eye on Indymedia.ie and Raytheon9.org

The Raytheon Nine can receive messages of support
and can be contacted at resistderry@aol.com .
Journalist and socialist Eammon McCann has written a pamphlet titled Resisting War Crimes Is Not a Crime: The Raytheon 9 which can be obtained for £2 / ¤3 from the Derry Anti War Coalition at the above address or from Anti War Ireland (antiwarireland@gmail.com). You can also buy it via Paypal on http://www.raytheon9. org

Can’t Make it to Belfast? – Send a Solidarity Text to the Raytheon 9 Defendants!

June 3, 2008
Can’t Make it to Belfast? – Send a Solidarity Text to the Raytheon 9 Defendants!
They’re on Trial For Us, We’re on the Loose for Them!
The Raytheon 9 are an inspiration. I just got a phone call from my friend Les who’s trying to get a plane ticket to get to Belfast for the Raytheon 9 trial. Les hasn’t been to Northern Ireland since he did three tours with the British military. He says is it is so exciting that socialists and republicans are experimenting with nonviolent direct action and he wants to be there to support them at the trial. He says that this would be a great way for him to return to Northern Ireland – confront his past and celebrate a future with a community in resistance to war.
Les was a Brtish soldier who has moved on to nonviolent direct action against the war machine – in the ’90’s he broke the sanctions on Iraq and in 03 was arrested blockading the HMS Ark Royal as it pulled out to Iraq and the start of this war. As he was being arrested at Aldermaston a few years ago, the arresting cop forcing him to the ground and cuffing him said “You were in my unit in Northern Ireland!” Les’s expression of regret for the previous activity they had undertaken together did not win him any favours.
Meanwhile Bush has been invited to Belfast as man of peace with the hope of further U.S. investment with no mention of restrictions on weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon http://www.counterpunch.org/harkin05302008.html
The north fast tracked from the fringe of empire to central comfort zone where hi tech weaponry can be constructed and where troubles are exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Colombia et al and become someone else’s troubles.
To spend the day around the Raytheon defendants in the Laganside Courthouse has been an inspiration. To be around people risking their liberty for peace and justice is always both a nourishing and challenging experience. It always poses the question what can I do in response to their gift and the wars that continue to claim so many victims.
Inside the court – at the front there was the Judge, to the side the jury, in the middle I counted 20 legal (mostly bewigged) professionals, at the back there was 30 of us in support from Derry, Dublin and Belfast. We were parents, partners, SWP, Catholic Worker, Quakers, Pax Chrisit, Republican, punk, a long hair lad from Hollywood and other traditions.
And then there were the defendants being frisked as they entered this weird kind of plexiglass, aquarium like pod in the middle of the courtroom. Boiled down these were unmistakably Derry lads who did the right thing at the right time as Lebanon burned and Raytheon raked in the profits. A barman, a biker, a journo among their number. They stood with their action to save lives and are here today, 2 1/2 years later, risking their liberty to speak some truth to power.
Eamonn McCann took the stand. Born on the Derry’s bogside in 1942 his parents were of the working class – a labourer and a retired nurse. His testimony traced his life’s trajectory that brought him into Derry’s Raytheon’s offices – anti-Vietnam War, civil rights, labour organising, radical journalism and sustained activism.
The events immediately preceding the occupation and decommissioning of Raytheon by the nine were described. There was a sense that this was a vey Derry action. We were in the company of people who walk the walk after they talk the talk. A large crowd had gathered at Sandinos Bar in early August 06 to hear visiting U.S. veteran of the Iraq War Joshua Casteel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM8jjqxtSpY and an Iraqi exile describe their experiences of the war on Iraq.
The discussion, that followed the presentations, quickly turned to the U.S./Raytheon equipped Israeli bombing of Lebanon ongoing that night. The realization that Raytheon with a plant in Derry was profiting and pivotal to the slaughter of these Lebanese civilians. The questions posed, what is our response, what can we do to intervene in this slaughter?
The follow up meeting a few days later had all the hallmarks of human frailty that speaks of our movement that confronts corporate entities such as Raytheon (”light from the Gods” ) that claim omnipotence and the power of life and death. The room booked at Badger’s Bar was double-booked and the fine tuning action meeting of 50 souls took place in the public bar much to the bemusement of fellow nonaligned drinkers. Then it was off to Raytheon on the morning of August 9th (the 61st. anniversary of the destruction of the city of Nagasaki by one bomb).
The last team talk was given in a nearby carpark by Goretti Hogan who emphasised a commitment to nonviolence and an objective to disable Raytheon’s equipment in attempt to preserve life and social infrastructure in Lebanon. Down the hill and around the three police officers present and the door kindly open by a worker entering the building. Up the stairs and into the corporate officers where software to deliver destruction is produced. But what would life be without a domestic? Eamonn and Gorreti concluding that their 20 year old daughter with severe learning need a difficulties a parent at large. Gorreti left the building, the door was barricaded and the very human work of military disarmament got underway. Raytheon’s mainframe computer was decommissioned with the use of a handy fire extinguisher. Raytheon computers and paperwork were dispatched through an open window onto the car park pavement below. After 7 hours the barricade was broken with a chainsaw and the robocops inched forward around the nine card playing resisters. A scene reminiscent of the last roundup of Jake and Elwood Blues Brothers!
Also recounted was the nine defendant’s post arrest sojourn to the heavly bombed Lebanese town of Cana where they experienced firsthand the victims and orphans of Raytheon.
On cross examination the Prosecutor did his best to suggest that there was another agenda other than an attempt to preserve life in Lebanon that drove the nine. He suggested this was not a direct intervention but a publicity stunt. On recross the defendant explained he was a radio/television/newspaper journalist with little need of publicity stunts to express his views. The Prosecutor tried another tac – this was a revenge on Raytheon of wanton destruction following a frustrated political campaign. McCann pointed out if wanton destruction was the motivation the computers would not have gone out an open window but a closed one. Point taken!
The trial continues tomorrow. From my experiences what is significant in these dark times is solidarity and resistance. There isn’t much resistance in the West these days because there is not much solidarity. The more solidarity the resister/defendant experiences the easier the task, the burden is lightened.
I hope Les makes it to Belfast.
If you can’t make it to Belfast check out their webiste http://www.raytheon9.org and spread the word.
Send a text to me at the court. I’ll copy it down and pass it on to the defendants
Inside UK 07950 290 857
Outside the UK 0044 7950 290 857
Not sure how you SMS/Text from U.S.?
Suggested text – short message, name, city
eg. Goodonya! Ciaron, Dublin