Monday, December 13, 2010

Guilty of Trying to Uphold International Law

Members of the Disarm Now
Plowshares with their legal team.
Five individuals have been found guilty of a number of charges related to their November 2009 protest at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state. Anne Montgomery, Bill Bischel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald and Steve Kelly were part of a Plowshares action to challenge the legality and morality of the US storage and use of thermonuclear missiles by Trident nuclear submarines.

On the first day of the trial, the prosecution objected to the defendants' reference to international law as a reason for their actions. In 1996, the International Court of Justice ruled that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal. The military, it seems, sees nothing wrong with threatening the instant death of millions of people through the use of its nuclear weapons. Some might argue that the issue is more complex. But I would say that it is that simple - these five brave protestors were attempting to shed light on the thoroughly illegal and immoral possession of nuclear weapons by the United States.

Principle VII of the Nuremberg Principles states, "Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law."

To be silent in the face of the grave threat of nuclear weapons makes one complicit in the consequences of their use. These five courageous peace leaders in the Disarm Now Plowshares group are guilty of nothing more than trying to uphold international law. In my book, that's not a crime; it's an ideal to which we should all aspire.

For more in depth coverage of this issue, visit the Disarm Now Plowshares blog.

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