Tuesday, September 26, 2006

STOP D.U. Campaign Hits the Road


A movement is afoot to stop the production and use of depleted uranium weapons -- Please visit the STOP DU website at http://www.stop-du.org/.

The effort, which happens to have a strong core of Church of the Brethren participants, is affiliated with Christian Peacemaker Teams - Northern Indiana, a regional group of CPT.
Here's a description of their work, from their website:
The Nonviolent Campaign to End the Production of DU Weapons is a grassroots movement supported by a coalition of organizations and concerned citizens that work through education, creative nonviolent action, legislation, and media.  The campaign has a direct focus to end production of DU weapons at major facilities in the US - Alliant Ballistic Laboratory in Rocket City, WV, and AeroJet in Jonesbough, TN. Please join us in this critical nonviolent campaign.

Read on for an article on their recent tour through West Virginia and Tennessee, near the sites of DU munitions factories.

Please visit www.stop-du.org to find out how you can get involved!


Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

From: Kindy <kindy@cpt.org>
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006
To: stopdu@riseup.net

Stop DU Campaign Recounts Six-Day Swing through Seven States, by Mabel V. Brunk

Goals of this trip as outlined at September 1 meeting included: Let folks know about depleted uranium weapons (DU) and how they are viewed by international law; bring awareness about DU to local communities and build campaign support networks; ask for the end of the production of DU munitions.

Monday, September 11- Ben Long, Amy Fry-Miller, Cliff Kindy and Mabel Brunk left Joyfield Farm about 7AM in Ben’s car after Cliff’s pickup pulled the car to a reluctant start. Flags were at half-mast this day, remembering the events of 9/11. This reminded us that Gandhi began his nonviolent campaign in South Africa 100 years ago on this day! Our flags were high throughout the trip.

We lunched in the car on the healthy foods we each contributed and arrived at Eleanor and Bob Stough’s passive solar home at 4:30 PM. Neighbors, Harold and Ruth Statler, joined us for a delicious soup and salad supper. At 7PM, 22 people assembled at the Beaver Run Church of the Brethren. Amy led us in our signature song, “O Healing River,” and Ben, Mabel, Cliff and Amy talked: What is DU? How does DU impact civilians and military? What does the Pentagon say and how do their words contrast with their own regulations? Where are DU weapons production facilities and how do they impact the surrounding area? What are pertinent state and national legislative agendas related to DU? The group listened with interest; questions and comments showed genuine concern.  Jan, from Veterans for Peace, was vehement with his statement that Gulf War Syndrome was DU-caused. Preston Miller, pastor and physicist, hadn’t heard of DU until an August Associated Press article by Deborah Hastings. Some in the group wanted to monitor trucks leaving the Alliant Tech DU weapons assembly plant in Rocket Center, WV!

We slept in the comfort of Lawrence and Judy Brenneman’s hillside home at Livengood Farm and breakfasted in their guest rooms.

Tuesday, September 12 - The car was again reluctant to start, but Ben and Cliff found the problem, corrected it and the bio-diesel-fueled car ran flawlessly the rest of the journey. Humdillulah!

We drove past the Alliant Tech plant and visited briefly at the Army Reserve armory. We read a front page article by Mona Ridder in the Sept 4 Cumberland Times-News that quoted Cliff, Ruth and Eleanor. Gary Geiger, Alliant Tech public relations, told Ridder that DU came to the plant contained and that it was a “non-issue.” We stopped to visit Mona Ridder and her intern, Natalie, from Frostburg State University at the newspaper office in Cumberland. Mona was sympathetic with peace issues, but, as the paper’s business reporter, understands the perspective that the local economy needs the 300 - 400 jobs brought by the recent DU contract for 120 mm DU tank shells for the US Abrams tank.

We had our picnic at a street corner park then drove to Allegany College in Cumberland. Cliff went to the chaplain’s office, Ben and Amy talked with students, sharing Stop DU brochures, and Mabel dozed. Then we continued to the Potomac College campus where Amy and Ben again interacted with students. Ben met one student who told of using DU weapons during “Shock and Awe,” but reported not using them afterwards. Another student shared plans to leave soon for Iraq as a medic with the mission to save soldiers’ lives, so he pressed the benefit of using DU weapons.

We bought pizza and ate it at the Corinthian Center of the Pinto, MD, Mennonite Church. Al Anderson, Air Force vet and member of the congregation, welcomed us and introduced us to the 23 people who came to the 7PM meeting. Six adults and two high school students from the Unitarian Universalist Church were among those who asked questions and were full of interest. One man spoke of writing innumerable letters to legislators about DU and seemed discouraged. Another spoke of working at the plant as it was developing DU munitions in the late 1980's, while a neighbor spoke of nearly daily rocket tests at the plant.

Wednesday, September 13 - The team met with Cherie Snyder’s Human Services 8 AM class at the Allied Health building on the Allegany College campus. About 18 first and second year students and a chaplain from Frostburg State University attended. Students had read about CPT (cpt.org) and the DU campaign (stop-du.org) and were ready with comments and questions. Interest was high and we stayed 30 minutes longer than planned. Here, as at all meetings, we shared DU brochures and CPT materials and gathered names and contact information for future mailings.

We traveled through West Virginia, eating lunch in the car and doing role plays for a possible press conference at Aerojet Ordnance in Jonesborough, TN. We arrived by evening at Chanda Edward’s home in Limestone, TN, where we enjoyed supper with Chanda and her father.

Thursday, September 14 - Chanda’s dogs licked Ben awake. Others were up early enough to walk the country roads. We drove past the Aerojet Ordnance plant and on to Erwin, site of Nuclear Fuel Services. About 350 hourly union workers have been on strike for over 4 months, asking for return of pension and health benefits. Linda Modica met us there. She had arranged many of our meetings in the Jonesborough area. We listened to stories of the striking workers and joined the picket line at the front entrance. Most of those driving by either honked or waved to express support. We learned, contrary to our suspicions, that the plant probably does not have connections to the DU that is molded and milled at the Aerojet plant. Nuclear Fuel produces fuel for the reactors that drive the US nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.

At 3PM we departed for Jonesborough where two went to a café and two to the library and International Story Tellers Center to leave brochures and announce meetings the next two evenings.

About 18 people attended the 7PM meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton. Some were from the peace group at that congregation. Others represented a peace group from St Mary’s Catholic Church. A chemistry professor from East Tennessee State University shared that he had toured Aerojet in 1987 and found it relatively safe and clean at that time. Another attendee, Shirley Cecconi, had two sons who had been in the Iraq conflicts, one for four tours. Both are healthy, though one has a yearly medical check in Richmond, VA. Listeners were enthusiastic and one suggested selecting a storyteller to use DU as a theme and another, commissioning a graduate student to do DU research.

Friday, September 15 - Chanda’s dogs entertained us. We had a lunch in Johnson City with Bert Allen, psychology professor  at Milligan College and member of Veterans for Peace. He had invited three staff persons from the Mountain Home VA Hospital. Myra Elder was a psychologist working with pain management, Andrew Spitznas was the psychiatrist heading up the treatment for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, and Dan Kyte was the chief of the domiciliary unit. They knew little about DU and its impact on US military personnel, but were glad to hear our data and stories.

We then met with a former employee at Aerojet Ordnance who suggested different contacts for our work. We enjoyed a carry-in supper at the Jackson Park Church of the Brethren and  accompanied Chanda to a Brethren young adult gathering at Lake Placid. We joined the game night and then grabbed their interest with our information about DU and Aerojet.

Saturday, September 16 - At the Jackson Park Church of the Brethren again we prepared posters and planned for the press conference. At Linda Modica’s invitation, Leila Al-Imad, a prof at ETSU, joined us and shared from her Mideast experience and work with the American Friends Service Committee. 

At 12 noon, we held our signs at the entrance to Aerojet Ordnance: “Support Our Troops: Stop DU,” “Aerojet, Stop Making DU Weapons!” and “ Depleted Uranium: Weapon of Mass Destruction.” Linda, Faith Mahoney and Hollis Edwards, both neighbors of the plant, joined us, but none of the invited media appeared. Faith handed DU brochures to drivers as they stopped at the intersection. Cliff carried a brochure to the two Murray Security personnel inside the guard house at the plant, but had to slide it under the locked door because of their fear to open it for him. Sheriff Vince Walters soon drove up, informed us we were on Aerojet land and should move across the corner. He was friendly and just said we should not use violence. Later another sheriff’s car appeared and the woman said we should not pass leaflets to cars at the stop sign. We presented our prepared statements to the “invisible press.” Faith told us we could use her home as a center when we came to set up a camp. She was very sympathetic to the DU concerns.

We followed Linda’s directions and delivered our press packets to the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune, the Johnson City Press, and WJHL TV.

Ben filled the tank with bio-diesel fuel and we headed home, leaving about 1:50 PM. As before, Ben, Amy and Cliff spelled each other as drivers. Food supplies lasted. We listed potential contents and contacts for a future CPT delegation. Some travelers assumed “ghost” forms during a game, Mabel learned that “mnemonic” is a word and Ruritania is not a place. Cliff disembarked at 11:20PM, Amy a bit later and Ben left Mabel in Goshen before driving on alone to his home. The mission was accomplished and we rejoice with friendships made, seeds planted, and energy generated toward our goal of nonviolently stopping the production of depleted uranium weapons.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Methodists protest Iraq war

Dear friends, sisters, brothers,

Last week I alerted you to the upcoming Declaration of Peace. Here's a first news bulletin about related events.

May we each accept and uncover our own call to "prophetic responsibility" (below).

Blessings and respect,


Methodists protest Iraq war

from www.ReligionAndSpirituality.com - a service of United Press International

WASHINGTON, September 22 (UPI) United Methodist Church leaders have helped launch a week of protest and civil disobedience against the war in Iraq. The Declaration of Peace, signed Thursday, is described as a call for nonviolent action to end the war in Iraq, United Methodist News Service reported Friday.

The Washington event was one of 350 that will be staged nationwide to promote the peace initiative. The declaration calls for people to "engage in peaceful protests" if there is not a plan for troop withdrawal established and begun by Sept. 21, days before Congress adjourns for the fall elections.

More than 500 groups, almost half of them faith organizations, are involved in the declaration of peace effort, which recently retired Bishop Susan Morrison said includes "acts of moral witness to seek a new course for our country." By signing the peace document in front of the White House, the United Methodists and other protesters hoped not only to make a statement but also to influence congressional races in November by forcing candidates to outline where they stand on the war.

Speakers at the Washington rally, which drew about 100 people to Lafayette Square, castigated Bush, accusing him of lying about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction and launching what they called an illegal offensive.

"Our demand as a movement is to end the war now," said Morrison, recently retired episcopal leader of the Troy Annual (regional) Conference. The declaration calls the situation in Iraq "the U.S. war in Iraq" and describes it as "an endless fire consuming lives, resources and the fragile possibilities of peace."

Thirty-four protesters, attempting to deliver the peace statement to Bush in an act of civil disobedience, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. None of the United Methodist protesters participated in that portion of the day's activity.

The Declaration of Peace initiative provides a way for the faithful to vent their anger about Iraq, Morrison said. "There are a lot of frustrated United Methodists out there who don't know where to channel it," she said. United Methodist clergywomen attending the recent 2006 International Clergywomen's Consultation in Chicago signed the declaration to "call to end this war" and made a commitment to take action to translate the call into a concrete plan for peace.

Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, said that protesting the war is similar to the church's work to promote other social movements. The church took prophetic positions on civil rights, women's rights and nuclear disarmament before Congress acted, he noted. "It has taken time for Congress to catch up," Winkler said. "We may be seeing another example of that."

Staff members of the denomination's social advocacy agency have been meeting with congressional staff members on a weekly basis regarding policy toward Iraq. Political leaders on Capitol Hill have been divided on the Bush administration's policy, with some calling for a timetable for withdrawal and others urging a staying of the course.

"You see more and more Republicans who are uncomfortable with the position of 'stay the course,'" said Mark Harrison, director of the board's Peace with Justice program. But the White House asserts that Iraq would collapse if U.S. troops leave prematurely, potentially leading to a full-blown civil war.

United Methodist leaders argue that the long insurgency in Iraq, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands Americans and Iraqis, is proof that U.S. involvement is misguided. "Iraq is in a civil war right now because we're there," Winkler said.

Morrison agreed. "We just exacerbate what's going on." She disputed critics who say that war protesters undermine U.S. troops and sap their morale. "We care deeply about the troops," she said. "We're proud of their commitment. We want them safe. We want them home."

Within individual United Methodist congregations, however, members may not agree with the way the anti-war movement is articulating its opposition. Differences of opinion must be respected, said the Rev. Dean Snyder, senior minister of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington. Such divisions have come up throughout Christian history. "It's part of our discernment process of truth," he said. "But that does not change the fact that church leaders are put in positions of prophetic responsibility."

from www.ReligionAndSpirituality.com - a service of United Press International

Friday, September 22, 2006

All Saints Episcopal continues to resist IRS

Dear friends,

A special hello to the more than 40 new members of the list this week, many from the recent Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference!

Here is the latest news from All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, CA.  You may remember that I've previously shared news of their case.  As a result of an anti-war sermon in 2004, their tax-exempt status is being strongly questioned by the IRS. 

Pastors and religious leaders, pay attention!  It is important that we be speaking up from the depths of our faith, to share prophetic reflection on the empire that we live in -- and do remember that faithfulness may be costly.  Count well the cost!

Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

All Saints Episcopal Church Won't Comply With IRS Probe
Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal parish board challenges a request to turn over documents in a case over a 2004 antiwar sermon.
by Louis Sahagun

A liberal Pasadena church on Thursday declared that it will refuse to comply with an IRS investigation into its tax-exemption status launched after a guest speaker was critical of President Bush in a sermon.

At a news conference attended by 50 cheering supporters gathered before the marble altar at All Saints Episcopal Church, the Rev. Ed Bacon said his 3,500-member congregation did not violate tax regulations barring tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates when a former rector, George F. Regas, criticized the Bush administration two days before the 2004 presidential election.

The Episcopal faith, the 58-year-old rector said, "calls us to speak to the issues of war and poverty, bigotry, torture, and all forms of terrorism … always stopping short of supporting or opposing political parties or candidates for public office."

Joined by members of other faiths, he added, "We are also not here for ourselves alone but to defend the freedom of pulpits in faith communities throughout our land."

The All Saints case escalated a week ago when the IRS slapped the 80-year-old parish with a summons demanding that it turn over by Sept. 29 all materials, such as newsletters and sermons, produced during the 2004 election year with political references. Bacon was told to testify in person Oct. 11.

At stake, several religious leaders say, is freedom from government intimidation when churches address moral issues of the day from the pulpit.

In an interview, Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, "Churches should not endorse political candidates. But the IRS is seriously out of kilter and wrong-headed on this one; it's an appalling intrusion and it smacks of intimidation."

Now, as the November election approaches, some churches worry that they may be the next targets of the IRS. This summer, the agency issued a statement warning nonprofits, including churches, that it was stepping up its efforts to crack down on illegal electioneering.

The Interfaith Alliance announced Thursday that it has started distributing 20,000 pamphlets to churches, synagogues and mosques offering advice on how to comply with federal law.

The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the alliance, a national group with 185,000 members, said that he was concerned that "the recent rush of candidates and political parties ­ and their often aggressive tactics ­ to reach out to people of faith lures religious organizations into dangerous legal territory."

The goal, Gaddy said, is to avoid the kind of partisan politicking recently aired in a televised campaign ad for Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tennessee), who is running for a Senate seat. The commercial is set inside a church.

Then there was Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a Republican who, according to a four-page strategy memo leaked to the news media, told his reelection campaign to get pastors to recruit "money people" who could help his reelection campaign.

At All Saints, the 26-member vestry voted unanimously early Thursday to "challenge the IRS in a court of law," said senior warden Bob Long. Federal law prohibits the IRS from discussing a specific case. But in an interview Thursday, Steven T. Miller, commissioner of the agency's tax-exempt and government entities division, said the law is clear: The nation's roughly 1 million nonprofits, including churches, are barred from speaking on behalf of, or against, any candidate.

The law is not new; it dates back to 1954. What is new is a concern over the level of prohibited activity that the IRS has been seeing by charities and churches in recent years. A recent IRS report reviewed 87 completed cases of alleged illegal campaigning by nonprofits in the 2004 election cycle.

Of those closed cases, 71% were found to have engaged in what the agency called "political intervention." But in only four of those cases, none of them involving churches, did the IRS revoke a group's tax-exempt status.

If an entity declines to answer a summons in a case of alleged illegal campaigning, the IRS can ask the Justice Department to pursue the case in federal court, which is exactly what All Saints wants to happen.

"That is not to say that this challenge, as well as many other steps we have already taken to respond properly and timely to the IRS investigation, does not stretch us financially ­ it does," Long said. To help defray the legal costs, Bacon said All Saints, the largest Episcopal church west of the Mississippi, has created a new category of membership, "Solidarity Membership," for supporters of other faiths wishing to join the cause.

"We smell intimidation," said Maher Hathout, chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California. "It smells rotten, and we should not allow any aspect of intimidation to be directed to any member of our great country."

Rabbi Steven Jacobs of Temple Kol Tikvah, who also attended the news conference, said, "There seems to be an assault upon the pulpit, and it seems to fit a pattern of focusing on those challenging our administration."

All Saints' public skirmish with the IRS is only the latest example of how it has been speaking out on political issues since a rector protested the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Bacon, a former Southern Baptist who was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, continues that tradition. The church has even posted documents central to the case on its website, http://www.allsaints-pas.org , and Bacon likes to say that social action is a requirement of religious faith.

Tax experts, however, expressed mixed opinions about the church's chances of prevailing against the IRS. A federal judge could order the church to produce the documents or face sanctions, including fines.

"It's very difficult to beat a summons in court," said Ed Robbins, an attorney specializing in tax exemption litigation. "At the end of the day, if the IRS digs in its heels and wants this data, they'll get it."

All Saint's, however, had welcome news about three weeks ago when one of its attorneys, Marcus Owens, a former head of the IRS exemption office, persuaded the IRS to drop an audit of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. That investigation was also sparked by a speech that criticized Bush and the Bush administration's war in Iraq.

Immediately after Thursday's news conference, Owens informed the IRS of the church's decision. "We believe the only way to challenge the IRS' actions in this case is through a summons enforcement proceeding in court," he told IRS officials in a letter, "and therefore the church respectfully declines to respond to the summons. Rev. Bacon will not appear to testify Oct. 11."

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

IRAQ: Muslim Peacemaker Teams holds on to a vision of peace

13 September 2006
IRAQ: Muslim Peacemaker Teams holds on to a vision of peace
by Peggy Gish

"With an organization linking peace and environmental issues, we took a survey of 5,000 people concerning the dangers of small weapons. We put children's pictures, showing the problems of weapons, in galleries and displayed them at the Cairo conference on banning small arms. Now I hope to start a camp for scouts and train and mentor them in peacemaking, but I need much more training to train others," reported Omar*, a member of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT) from Kerbala.

Five members of MPT from Kerbala and Najaf had come to Suleimaniya to talk with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and network with Kurdish organizations. CPTers and MPTers shared what has happened with each group in the six months since they last met in Baghdad. Members of MPT took turns talking about their hopes for the future.

"I used to believe that violence was the strongest way to deal with conflicts, but I learned from MPT that peaceful methods are best," said Hassan.* "I want to be peaceful in all areas of my life. As a law student, I am trying to understand how I can work for peace through MPT."

Wisam* spoke about working with different organizations teaching democracy and helping women learn about their rights. Now he wants to educate people about the dangers of children playing with violent toys. He also wants MPT to publish booklets and writings, and make posters and signs. He hopes these materials would "increase people's awareness about MPT, the importance of peacemaking and its roots in Islam."

"In the MPT meetings I learned that I need to look inside and understand the violence inside myself in order to understand how to work for peace," said Leela, a young university student.

Sa'id* added, "We not only want to work for peace in Iraq, but in the whole world!"

Picture, right: Nonviolence training with Muslim Peacemaker Teams

CPT and MPT also spent time discussing how they could continue to work together. CPTers explained that their own ability to continue working in Iraq is not clear. If they are able to do so, they see possible ways to work with MPT: assisting them in launching their campaigns, contacting and networking with other groups and getting them more intensive training.

As with other Iraqi organizations, the increasing violence and instability around them has made moving forward for the MPT difficult. MPTers have struggled with organizational problems. Their strengths have been in their ability to intervene in violent situations in their own community and reach out to other Iraqis from different ethnic groups. Their work is rooted in their faith, and this has given them strength to move beyond their fears to working for peace. And while so many others in Iraq have lost hope that any positive change can take place, they have held on to their vision for a peaceful world and know it is the only sane choice they have.

* Names changed for the protection of MPT members.


Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict. Originally a violence-reduction initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Church of the Brethren and Quaker), CPT now enjoys support and membership from a wide range of Christian denominations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Remembering the Nonviolent 9/11

Dear friends,

Too many news stories glorifying the US and justifying war as a way to remember 9/11?

Here's an essay on remembering the September 11, *1906*, the day that Mohandas Gandhi joined others to declare the intention to resist unjust laws imposed by the government of South Africa. 

May we each continue to seek the Truth Force which Gandhi pointed toward, "that both binds people together and energizes them in their course of struggle against the mighty empire."

Blessings on your path,
Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

Source: Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

Remembering the Nonviolent September 11

PressInfo # 226
 September 10, 2005


Chaiwat Satha-Anand, TFF Associate
Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, Bangkok
Vice-President, Strategic Nonviolence Committee, National Security Council
Member, National Reconciliation Commission


On September 11, 2001, nineteen men turned 4 commercial airplanes with passengers into weapons of terror attacking cities in the US, killing more than 3,000 people. "That crystal blue morning," Craig R. Whitney wrote in the introduction to The 9/11 Investigation (2004), "changed the world, shocking the United States into realizing that it had been drawn into a global war with brutal suddenness."

The US attacked Afghanistan to root out "Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime", and then went into Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, claiming that his regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, among other things. The Taliban were ousted, Saddam Hussein arrested, and no weapon of mass destruction were found in Iraq, yet "the larger war and the terrorist threat to the American homeland continued unabated." In a way, all this is because at the time of the horrible attack, the US was, and presently continues to be, "led by a president persuaded that the US had no choice but to strike at the terrorist evil before it struck again." (Whitney 2004: ix)

There are many ways to remember the deaths of the people killed on that fateful day &endash; 9/11. They could be remembered together with between 3,125 to 3,620 Afghan civilians killed in the first ten months of the war in Afghanistan which began on October 7, 2001. Or they could be remembered with the 2,083 soldiers from different countries, 1,887 of them Americans, who have sacrificed their lives in Iraq war from March 2003 until January 31,2005. And they could also be remembered together with 24,865 civilians who had died since the Iraq war began. Among these, 37% or 9,200 were killed by American soldiers, while 9% or 2,237 were killed by the insurgents, according to the UK-based Iraq Body Count Group. (The Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2005)

The other way to meaningfully remember the fates of those who have fallen victims to violence, civilians and soldiers alike, would be to refuse to be led by the desperate belief that the world had no choice but to sink deeper into the violent inferno in its attempt to put an end to violence.

To honor the memory of those who were killed on 9/11, and because of 9/11, it is important to free the world from a sense of manufactured despair by remembering another 9/11 which took place 99 years ago with an enormously powerful legacy that have changed the world through nonviolence in the direction of furthering freedom.

On August 22, 1906, the Transvaal government in South Africa under the British Empire gave notice of a new legislation requiring all Indians, Arabs and Turks to register with the government. Fingerprints and identification marks on the person's body were to be recorded in order to obtain a certificate of registration. Those who failed to register could be fined, sent to prison or deported. Even children had to be brought to the Registrar from their fingerprint impressions. At the time, there were less than 100,000 Indians in South Africa. But in Transvaal, there was an Indian lawyer working with a Muslim company, and his name was Mohandas K. Gandhi.

On September 11, 1906, Gandhi called a mass meeting of some 3,000 Transvaal Indians to find ways to resist the Registration Act. He felt the Act was the embodiment of "hatred of Indians" which if accepted would "spell absolute ruin for the Indians in South Africa", and therefore resisting it is a "question of life and death."

Among these 3,000 people attending the meeting was one Sheth haji Habib, an old Muslim resident of South Africa. Deeply moved after listening to Gandhi's speech, Sheth Habib said to the congregation that the Indians had to pass this resolution with God as witness and could never yield a cowardly submission to such a degrading legislation. Gandhi wrote in his Satyagraha in Africa (1928), that " He then went on solemnly to declare in the name of God that he would never submit to that law and advised all present to do likewise." Though Sheth Habib was known to be a man of temper, his action on September 11 was significant because of his decision to act in defiance of an unjust law and willingness to suffer the consequences in a spiritually-endowed fight for justice in the name of God.

Gandhi was taken aback by the Muslim's suggestion. He wrote, " I did not come to the meeting with a view to getting the resolution passed in that manner, which redounds to the credit of Sheth haji Habib as well as it lays a burden of responsibility upon him. I tender my congratulations to him. I deeply appreciate his suggestion, but if you adopt it you too will share his responsibility.

On that day, September 11, 1906, in South Africa, the Indian nonviolent movement was born. Gandhi later called his Indian movement: "Satyagraha" or " the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence." This movement went on to free 300 million people from the power of the British Empire and gave the twentieth century a most remarkable demonstration of the power of nonviolent struggle.

But what does it mean 99 years later to "remember September 11, 1906"?

I would say that it means remembering that nonviolent alternative was born in a people's fight against injustice. It means remembering that for Gandhi, it is Truth Force that both binds people together and energize them in their course of struggle against the mighty empire. That is why invoking God as witness in this case reflects the degree to which a person is willing to sacrifice his/her all for "Truth" or God. It also means remembering the Muslim role in fostering such an alternative at the advent of Satyagraha or Gandhi's nonviolence.

Most importantly, perhaps, "remembering September 11, 1906" means that people could choose to reconstitute themselves as members of a community of memory where once ordinary people decided to do something extraordinary by freeing themselves from despair and change their world with nonviolence.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Archbishop Shorn and Anointed in preparation for prayer and fasting

ACNS 4176 | ENGLAND | 15 AUGUST 2006
Archbishop Shorn and Anointed in preparation for prayer and fasting

The Archbishop of York had his head shaved and anointed with oil during the Sunday morning act of worship at York Minster.

The acts of preparation came as the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu began a seven - day fast and prayer vigil for the Middle East.

After the service the Archbishop entered the tent which he has pitched in St. John's Chapel inside the Minster where he will be sleeping for the next seven nights as part of his vigil.

The acts of preparation came as the Archbishop announced his intention to forego his seven days' holiday to Salzburg in order to camp inside York Minster where he has asked people from all over the country to join him in heart and mind to pray every hour for peace in the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, and for good community relations in Britain.

Around my neck I wear a cross which bears the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero: 'Peace will flower when love and justice pervade our environment.' The events of the past weeks show how far we are, as a world and as a nation, from that place which Romero describes."

"I have received letters and calls from people about this conflict, and people are asking 'What can I do?' They feel helpless, they feel bewildered but they want to do something in response to the suffering that they have been watching on their televisions, hearing on their radios and reading in their newspapers."

"So my call to everyone is to join me in prayer, join me in fasting join me in providing a meal for every displaced person - especially women and children, medicine for the sick; and at a future date be part of the reconstruction of the areas, in both countries, that have been destroyed."

"Will you join me in standing up against violence as an unacceptable means of trying to change one another's views and lives? Whether in our own skies or the skies above the Middle East, bombing and violence cannot be the way in which we seek to change that which we don't like in the world. There has to be another way. Each one of us has to be the change we want to see in the world."

"That is why I am asking people from all over the country to join me in our common desire for peace, and for love."

Article from The Diocese of York.

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COLOMBIA: CPTers accompany demonstration at ECOPETROL

7 September 2006

COLOMBIA: CPTers accompany demonstration at ECOPETROL

On 25 August 2006, CPTers Julian Gutierrez and Kim Lamberty participated in
a demonstration along with several hundred other people at an ECOPETROL
operational center in the township of Centro, located just outside
Barrancabermeja.  ECOPETROL is the state-owned gas and petroleum company.
Participants gathered to show their opposition to an agreement between
ECOPETROL and Occidental Petroleum(OXY) that gives OXY the rights to the
remaining petroleum located in the areas "mature" oil fields.   Under the
agreement, OXY will inject water into the underground pipelines in order to
force out the remaining oil.  The pressure from this technique could cause
the pipes to explode, thereby endangering the people who occupy and farm the
land located above the pipelines.  The project could  thus disrupt farming
and livestock operations and force people to leave their land.  It will also
interfere with domestic gas supplies in the area.

The ECOPETROL labor union USO (Unión Sindicato Obrero), together with the
community of Centro, organized the demonstration for this day because
executives from OXY planned to be  at the plant.  The event began early in
the morning with ESMAD (the Colombian riot police) attempting to provoke
violence with tear gas and rubber bullets--injuring the local parish
priest--and by pushing and shoving the demonstrators.  The demonstrators did
not react violently, and the event ended at 2:00 p.m. without further

CPT was present at the event in solidarity with the community and to
diminish the possibility that violence might occur.