December 2013        

A moral choice: choose war or peace

Niall Farrell’s statement to Ennis District Court, 2 December 2013


I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
      The Irish state is in denial concerning the US military’s activities at Shannon. Indeed, according to the prosecution, everything at Shannon Airport is “proper.” But what is proper with facilitating up to two million soldiers to wage illegal wars and occupations of foreign lands via Shannon Airport? What is proper with facilitating the murder of over two million innocent people via Shannon Airport? What is proper with facilitating the transport of lethal weaponry, including depleted uranium munitions, via Shannon Airport to indiscriminately kill and maim in foreign lands?
      On RTE’s Joe Duffy show on April 1st 2008 a spokesperson for Murray’s Air stated that the US company had a licence from the Irish state to transport munitions, including depleted uranium, via Ireland.
      What is proper about facilitating via Shannon Airport “extraordinary rendition,” or, in layman’s terms, the kidnapping, the torturing, the imprisoning and the disappearing of countless individuals? In September of this year the Council of Europe called on Ireland to “atone” for its complicity.
      Take the case of Binyam Mohamad. His CIA kidnappers and torturers received a céad míle fáilte from their Irish hosts. The Council of Europe established that the CIA operatives left Shannon after a good night’s sleep and went on to kidnap Binyam Mohamad and bring him to be tortured in Morocco. And he was tortured for months. One Moroccan speciality was applying razor blades to Binyam’s genitals. In this incident alone, Ireland has contravened the principles of the UN Convention Against Torture.
      President Obama’s weapon of choice is not “rendition” but the indiscriminate killer drones. Is it proper that Shannon Airport should facilitate this means of killing and maiming of thousands of innocent people, including children? Apparently it is: US military Hercules planes, a very familiar visitor to Shannon, transport these weapons, in containers perversely dubbed “coffins” by the US military, to murder and maim in foreign lands.
      Just to personalise the issue: this little Pakistani girl [here he produced a photograph]—Shakira by name—was a victim of an Obama drone strike in 2009. She was one of the lucky ones. A doctor by chance lifted her from a hospital litter bin, where she had been deposited with two other tiny victims. Only last week a little two-year-old in Afghanistan was killed by a drone—a drone that no doubt came via Shannon Airport. Again, is this a proper use of the airport?
      The prosecution against us has been based on double standards. The state prosecutes us under a law that they refuse to use to search the CIA and US military planes. We have the Gardaí refusing to properly investigate prima facie breaches of international law but prosecuting us for attempting to highlight the state’s connivance at those breaches.
      On March 18 2011 Shannonwatch delivered two wheelbarrows of detailed evidence of the crimes being committed at the airport to Shannon Gardaí. Seventeen months later it received a contemptuous response of less than a half page, simply denying the truth of this factual evidence. And on more than one occasion in this court our concerns about the presence of warplanes at Shannon on those particular days were also brushed aside.
      In any sane person’s world, the killing of up to two million innocent people—the equivalent to a third of the population of Ireland—is a holocaust. The Irish state can brush it all under the carpet, but the truth is the USA’s “war on terror” is the holocaust of the twenty-first century. Shannon Airport’s runway is a gateway to that holocaust.
      Would the minister for justice have considered saboteurs of the railway tracks to the Nazi death camps to have been committing a crime? Hardly. So, neither should Margaretta nor myself be before a court. We did what had to be done to highlight Ireland’s part as an accessory to crimes against humanity.
      In the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square on the 1st September Pope Francis was leading the faithful in prayer against a US war against Syria as Margaretta D’Arcy and I were making our way to Shannon to express our opposition to what appeared an imminent war. Our actions may have been somewhat different, but the goal was the same: peace! And we prevailed.
      Nuremberg Principle IV states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” This court has a moral choice: uphold the Irish state’s breaches of international law or send a message that the Irish courts will not tolerate the improper use of our airports for war. In other words, choose between war and peace.

■ Niall Farrell and Margaretta D’Arcy were charged with interfering with the proper use of Shannon Airport. On Wednesday 11 December they were found guilty and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and forbidden to enter Shannon Airport.

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