On Tuesday, an Irish jury aquitted the 5 anti-war Catholic Workers known as the “Pitstop Ploughshares” of all charges in connection with the February 3, 2003 disarming of a US Army warplane at Shannon Airport. All 5 were facing criminal damage charges that carried 10-year maximum prison sentences and fines of over $2.5 million.
Above photo by Dave Donnellan from Indymedia Ireland.
The 5 used the Nuremberg Defense. From their website, Peace on Trial:
‘Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individuals] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.’ The Nuremberg Tribunal 1945-1946.
The US and UK have amassed a military force in preparation for a massive assault against Iraq. In the previous aggression against Iraq in 1991, terrible crimes against peace and crimes against humanity were committed by the US and UK armed forces. The judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal makes it clear that citizens have the right and duty to seek to prevent the crimes against peace and humanity that are clearly going to be committed against Iraq.
That the 5 were acquitted of all charges speaks volumes to Irish sentiment about the use of Shannon airport as a refueling station for US warplanes bound for Iraq. Immediately following the verdict, the Ploughshares released the following statement:
The jury is the conscience of the community chosen randomly from Irish society. The conscience of the community has spoken. The government has no popular mandate in providing the civilian Shannon airport to service the US war machine in it’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In 1996 in Liverpool the Jury acquittal of the four ‘ploughshares’ women contributed to the end of arms exports to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and the independence of East Timor.
The decision of this jury should be a message to London, Washington DC and the Dail that Ireland wants no part in waging war on the people of Iraq. Refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport should cease immediately.
Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Ciaron Fallon, Damien Moran, & Ciaron O’Reilly
Protests at Shannon have been going on for a few years now, and will surely continue after this verdict. Wikipedia provides a short background on foreign military aircraft at Shannon (remember that Ireland is, after all, a neutral country):
In April 2003 the High Court ruled in Horgan v Ireland that for Ireland to be a Neutral Power under international law, it must prevent “belligerents from making use of neutral territories and neutral resources for their military purposes”. The Irish Government however expressly invited the United States to use Ireland’s airports and airspace for its “long campaign against terrorism”, waiving all previous restrictions regarding foreign military aircraft. The provisions of Bunreacht na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) which affirm Ireland’s commitment to the rule of international law were stated by the government as being only “aspirational”.
Let’s hope that the recent acquittal of the Pitstop Ploughshares inspires others to take action against the war! For more information on the case, visit the Ploughshares site Peace on Trial or read about it on Indymedia Ireland.