People for a Peaceable Planet, WPJC’s friends down in Skagit County , run a weekly radio show called Speak Up Speak Out that covers a variety of social justice issues.
|Here is a wonderful editorial
from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the importance of Nonviolence as
a policy tool written by Bellingham ’s Nick Mele. Nick is a retired
diplomat and former WPJC board member: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/388069_firstperson17.html
Evan Knappenberger wrote an editorial for the Seattle Post-Intelligence. Evan is an Iraq veteran living in Bellingham : http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/384008_firstperson20.html
NPR INTERVIEW WITH LOCAL IRAQ VET ASH WOOLSON
Local Iraq Veteran Ash Woolson was featured on KUOW, National Public Radio’s Seattle station on July 29th. In this interview he shares how his protesting radically changed after a thousand mile Peace Walk through Japan: http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=15456. Way to go, Ash! Thanks for your leadership.
6,700 tons of Depleted Uranium at the Longview, WA port!
On April 29, 2008, yesterday, longshoremen unloaded 6,700 tons of DU
contaminated sand at the Port of Longview, as reported in the Daily
News Online serving the lower Columbia valley.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Supporting Our Troops
Marie Marchand and Sgt. Ash Woolson
The American public is largely unaware that one million US soldiers have served in Iraq. What is well-known, however, is the fact that the system of care for veterans is in distress. Soldiers are having a difficult time accessing medical and psychological care, not to mention the crucial help they need in transitioning back to civilian society. Many soldiers respond to their return home with isolation, mania, and even suicide.
According to figures released by the Pentagon in 2005, US veterans are killing themselves at a rate of eighteen per day.
The question is clear: how are we going to support these troops? Have they not suffered enough injustice and seen enough trauma? As one veteran put it, "The fight doesn't end when we return from the war zone. For many of us, it is just the beginning of our hardest battle: staying alive."
Why are so many veterans experiencing this extreme isolation? Many are shocked when they return home—after one, two, or three tours—to face America's ignorance and apathy. A veteran who spoke in Bellingham last year reported that when he told someone he'd just gotten back from Iraq, the civilian replied, "Is that war still going on?"
The make-up of combat forces also contributes to veterans' alienation. Close to 50 percent of deployed soldiers are National Guard and Reserve. On average, these soldiers train only thirty-eight days a year, and are being deployed alongside regular Army soldiers who train all year, every year.
Consequently, a higher percentage of reservists experiences Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than regular army who have been better equipped and trained. Unlike active duty GIs who return to their bases with their units, reservists and guard members return to their hometowns and families three days after redeploying from Iraq. This post-combat dispersion poses a challenge to the Veterans Administration to find them and integrate them into the system of care.
Where can our veterans get the support they need if not through the government? Many are looking to the grassroots. Iraq Veterans Against the War is a national organization founded in 2004. With 800 members and chapters in almost every state, IVAW educates the public about Iraq: its people, its culture, and the occupation. Most importantly, IVAW functions as a peer-to-peer network of support and camaraderie.
Through IVAW, veterans use their voices to stand up. They become the antidote to our nation's paralyzing apathy.
Involvement in the peace movement and the opportunity to take leadership empowers returning soldiers. Many are used to being demeaned by higher ranking soldiers; now they are the experts. They speak with credibility, experience, and, oftentimes, vulnerability.
Since 2002, Whatcom Peace & Justice Center has been a local voice calling for an end to the US occupation of Iraq. It welcomes IVAW and other returning veterans to our community, recognizing that the alliance between GIs and the peace movement has historical precedence. During the Vietnam War, as more and more GIs returned to their barracks, underground newspapers flourished and an inter-military movement emerged. Peer-to-peer initiatives took hold in GI coffee houses, and actions of Civil Disobedience resulted in over-crowded stockades. GIs and peace activists united.
The partnership between Whatcom Peace & Justice Center and Iraq Veterans Against the War affirms that there need not be a split between "supporting the troops" and being against the war as the Administration and Hollywood would have us believe.
How can we best support the troops? Let's welcome them home, listen to their stories, and respect their leadership. They spent years in Iraq experiencing the horror of war. They deserve to be cared for and honored.
Marie Marchand is executive director of the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center. Sgt. Ash Woolson, 724 Engineering Battalion Army National Guard, served in Iraq 2003-04. He is president of the Bellingham Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Victory for Free Speech!
Judge Debra Lev points the way for Congressman Rick Larsen
Monday, April 23, 2007
Bellingham Municipal Court experienced a transformative opening at Ellen Murphy’s sentencing hearing today. Statements made in the courtroom by Ellen and Gold Star mother Doris Kent are below. CDs of the hearing and trial will be available at the peace and justice center later this week.
After Ellen, her attorney Joe Pemberton, and Doris Kent spoke in the courtroom, Ellen’s supporters, including many veterans, stood in silence to express their solidarity. Judge Debra Lev took the necessary time and thought to fully explore the ramifications of this sentencing. She recognized the profound difference between the actions and motivations of Ellen Murphy as compared to those of other convicted defendants of the crime of trespass. Judge Lev sentenced Ellen to a $1,000 fine, with $1,000 suspended; and 90 days in jail, with 90 days suspended; 40 hours of community service; and $43 in court costs.
Today it was affirmed that civil discourse, expressed through true listening and sharing, still exists and can be upheld even in the courtroom. So many of us in the movement have been feeling disheartened; but to know that this has happened in our community, and is happening in communities just like ours around the nation, reminds us that there is hope. Victories such as these revive our hope in humanity and in our ability to affect the world.
Ellen Murphy with her attorney Joe Pemberton and supporters.
Ellen Murphy’s Statement
Thank you to the court and to the jury for its time and deliberation. I am deeply gratified by those who reportedly held out for so long for acquittal. I want to thank the media for sending one official member of the press to cover the trial: a 12 year-old reporter from the Montessori Monsoon. I thank my attorney, Joe Pemberton, and his law firm for his profound support and most excellent defense. And for the incredible support from so many wonderful people, in so many wonderful ways, I am deeply grateful. I gratefully acknowledge and honor the presence here in this courtroom of all the veterans and of a Gold Star mother.
I am saddened at all the different costs of this trial; that Rep. Larsen worked so hard to remove himself from this case, but did nothing to advance the cause of justice or assist this Court; and that the case was not dismissed by the City. But there were costs on a far greater scale that were incurred during the days we were in court.
On Wednesday alone, over 300 Iraqi civilians were added to the countless already dead, when they perished in The Surge. On that Thursday, our Justice Department, which officially promotes torture, said that there are some cases that SHOULD be thrown out—every single Guantanamo lawsuit, as the suicides and hunger strikes grow.
That our juries still function is heartening, with Habeas Corpus gone, and the justice system reeling from within, its highest officials presently prevaricating to Congress and taking the 5th.
And finally, during my trial, 17 more
I close by asserting that on October 13, 2006, I was in Representative Larsen’s office in a spirit of love and hope, to continue waiting for an appointment, not to force him, but to have the opportunity to work WITH him in some genuine way, even if given 5 minutes, for him to be able to feel the meaning and acknowledge the legitimacy and urgency of our concerns about an Occupation-- the disastrous proportions of which are almost completely beyond measure.
The closing times of that office seemed arbitrary, and at no time did I believe that crimes were committed by me or by anyone else.
We are all responsible for what much of the world considers to be crimes against humanity done in our name. When we as a society say that the few who resist openly are guilty, we might be tempted to absolve ourselves. But true absolution will not come with business as usual, or by silencing the mourners and seekers of redress, but with massive renunciation of this war and the exploitive, ecologically suicidal corporate foreign policy which initiated it and sustains it---a policy which amounts, at the very least, to moral treason.
Doris Kent’s Statement
My name is Doris Kent. I have been a resident of Bellingham Washington since 1996. I feel it is important to make this statement to the court prior to Ms. Murphy's sentencing today. I need you to know how the impact of her 'guilty' verdict has impacted me and others who believe citizens' voices in time of national travesty, must not only be heard, but actively solicited.
Ellen Murphy, from the day I met her, gave me hope. Hope that I
did not have to bear the burden of insisting our country pay attention
to what is happening in our nation's war on
Ellen Murphy spoke because I could not. She is insisting someone
in our elected government listen to the pain our nation is in and to
have the courage to take the strong steps required to take our military
service members out of this war in
Ellen gave me hope. Now that the jury has found her guilty of trespassing without ever knowing what all the facts were in her case, I look to the court for hope. Hope that you see through this political maneuvering to thwart the 'needed' citizen voices. Congressman Rick Larsen needs to be ashamed for bringing these charges and even more shame for not dropping them before they got to this point.
I believe a just sentence for Ms. Ellen Murphy be: $1.00. Her mental, emotional and physical suffering is enough to last her a lifetime. For this peaceful person, that is too much.
With hope for our nation and true justice,