After a long battle with cancer, our friend, dedicated peace activist,
Marvin Kennon died on January 14. Marvin was the pastor of the Disciples
of Christ Church in Livermore when he joined Mustardseed Affinity Group.
He was arrested at the
Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab in the summer of 1983, with a thousand others. With his friend Lee Williamson, he accepted a sentence of 45 days rather than accept the probation condition of two years without committing civil disobedience. This was certainly a factor in the local judiciary’s decision to drop the condition. Over the years Marvin has been steadfast in his witness for peace and justice, and has lightened many a meeting with his irrepressible sense of humor. He has been a loving and devoted husband and father and a faithful friend to those who have known him. Go in peace, Marvin. We love you.
from the Board President
by Janet Gibson
On the twelfth day of Christmas I was given the special gift of witnessing the birth of our first grandchild. In these ensuing weeks this perfect package of "original goodness" has brought many thoughts to my mind:
o How do so many members of our human race begin in such love and grow
into hateful and revengeful human beings?
o Will our grandson reach maturity with the same critical issues that face us in 2002: the threat of terrorism; the world’s inequitable economic divide between the rich and poor; the lack of adequate health care for millions of Americans and others?
o Will this baby boy be faced with the choice of military conscription or conscientious objection?
Just as the hearts of a family are touched by a newborn child, the hearts of our society were affected by the tragedy of September 11th. The outpouring of courage, love and giving reminded us that our society has the capacity to care and sacrifice for the good of those in need. At the same time, however, there are those individuals and corporations who hide behind the flag while callously ripping off the country (Just think of the Enron debacle!). As Bill Moyers pointed out in a recent article, "while the President calls for patriotism, prayers and piety, the predators of Washington are up to their old tricks in the pursuit of private plunder at public expense. To these mercenaries sacrifice is for suckers."
So how do we access the goodness of our society so that it will expand
beyond September 11th? We can work to inform citizens of numerous
injustices perpetrated in the name of our government. We can insist
that it is patriotic to be part of a loyal opposition which questions government
policies, exposes political corruption, and demands a just foreign policy.
"Let’s face it (says Moyers): These realities present citizens with no
options but to climb back in the ring. We are in what
educators call a teachable moment." Although most of our citizens are educated solely by a media which remains indifferent to real issues, we can "push" our media to provide critical information that deals with the real social issues of our society.
Especially in this month of January, we can remind our countrymen that the heart and soul of America were constantly challenged by Martin Luther King during his lifetime. As we fight our war on terrorism, his words warn us of accompanying dangers: "If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos." Regarding dissent, King wrote: "Curtailment of free speech is rationalized on grounds that a more compelling American tradition forbid criticism of the government when the nation is at war. . . . Nothing can be more destructive of our fundamental democratic traditions than the vicious effort to silence dissenters."
It’s the new year and a new time of hope for our future generations. What would it be like if all children grew up in a society where they and their parents had health care? How might world attitudes change if America spent money on positive social reform rather than propping up repressive regimes? How can we use this unique opportunity to capture the positive energy unleashed by September 11th and apply it to build a society that has more "peace and justice for all."
Talking Circle, Talking Peace
?? and Listening, Too
by Marilyn Jackson
At the first monthly Talking Circle in December, 2001, we sat in a circle and began by listening to the All Nations Drummers who sat in the center to drum and sing several songs. The acoustics at the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry, 2398 Bancroft, Berkeley, were such that the drum beating reverberated strongly through us. EPI staff member, Tom Le Blanc, passed around his specially crafted Talking Stick, crafted from a wood branch and a buffalo hoof, with the help of former EPI staff and wood sculpture artist, Dan Buford.
One person at a time was encouraged to speak while holding the stick. We shared insights on the situation of the United States’ war, what to do about it and other issues related to faith and peace. The Peace-by-Peace walkers came and told us about their plan to walk across the country for peace. One of the participants called it a "Listening Circle," which is also fitting. Since only one person can talk at a time, everyone else must listen and can only respond in turn.
Afterwards we shared a potluck meal. We gathered again the first
Sunday in January with a similar format and plan to continue meeting the
first Sunday of each month at 3:00 p.m. with a potluck following at 5:00
p.m. We hope you will join us.
Parking can be tight, as we are near the UC Berkeley campus, but there are some parking lots nearby and we are not far from downtown Berkeley where there are parking lots and a BART station. If you need directions or want to carpool, please contact our office for assistance (510) 548-4141.
As Others See Us
a report from Piedmont
by Carolyn Scarr
In early December, I presented some information regarding Iraq at an event in Piedmont as part of a panel which was intended to help the citizens understand "why ‘they’ hate us." Later I was rather surprised to see a letter to the Piedmont Post describing the presentation of the panel as "a partisan and predominantly anti-American view of perceived injustices not only in the middle east, but throughout the world." The writer stated that I used my "entire presentation to condemn all manner of alleged American transgressions against Iraq, including the Gulf War." The letter used the phrase "anti-American" three times in the course of five paragraphs. (Piedmont Post, December 11, 2001)
I returned to my text to try to discover why the writer saw me in this curious light. I had forgotten that being critical of the decisions of the government was sometimes considered "anti-American". The points I had covered included the fact that no evidence had been produced linking Iraq to the attacks of September 11. Principally I addressed the question of who is paying the price of the sanctions against Iraq, pointing out that it is the people who suffer ?? over a million dead including half a million children ?? while those in power become stronger.
I brought in a little history, including the obstructions, largely by the U.S., to a diplomatically negotiated withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1990. I mentioned the fanning of war fever fires by a media event sponsored by Congressman Tom Lantos in which a young woman claimed to have witnessed Iraqi solders throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators which were allegedly shipped to Iraq. The young woman turned out to have been the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S.
Amnesty International later reported that they found no evidence supporting the story, retracting their previous position. Some other matters I addressed included the lack of defined standards of compliance with the disarmament requirements, whereby the sanctions against Iraq could be lifted. I pointed out that the clear intent of the U.S. government, repeatedly stated by presidents and high government officials from 1991 to the present, to maintain the sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq was in violation of the Charter of the UN and UNR 687 itself which affirm the rights to sovereignty and political independence of all countries. I pointed out the fact that Iraq did not "throw out the UN inspectors" in December 1998 as is often stated in U.S. newspapers, but rather they were withdrawn by Richard Butler, the head of the team, in anticipation of imminent U.S. attacks on Iraq.
The heart of the question is the effects of sanctions, including the deaths of 5,000 children under the age of five each month, largely due to water borne diseases. That this epidemic situation was anticipated is established by the discovery by Professor Tom Nagy of the Defense Information Agency report of January 18, 1991, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities". With increased death rates of the old, the young, the medically vulnerable, pregnant women, the poor ?? with a massive drop in the education of children, the widening gap between rich and poor and a serious reduction of the middle and professional classes ?? I asserted that sanctions are turning Iraq into a Third World country.
I addressed the Oil For Food program ?? what it is, how it works, its
considerable inadequacies, the fact that UN people who administer the program
universally report that Saddam Hussein is not withholding goods imported
under the program. A country of 22 million people cannot be maintained
as a giant refugee camp with no internal economy. I mentioned some
of the defects of the "Smart Sanctions" being proposed by the U.S. and
the UK and invited people to pick up the analysis
available on the table (which was included in Planted last year).
In Piedmont at least one person saw my criticism of U.S. foreign policy
as "anti-American". As people are reeling from the sudden experience
of vulnerability, charges that the United States has been engaged in genocide,
or even a holocaust, against the people of Iraq are hard to hear.
In many parts of the world the United States is seen as using its power
in the UN to force the continuation of sanctions which do not make the
Middle East safer and which, according to Professor Bossuyt’s report to
the UN Commission on Human Rights are "unequivocally illegal under existing international humanitarian law and human rights law".
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It was frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.
"Indeed God commands justice and doing good" (Al-Qur'an, 16:90)
"American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism extends heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to Ecumenical Peace Institute on this 10th day of November 2001, for friendship and support toward the Muslim community and for steadfast commitment to truth and justice for all."
EPI is honored to be able to work with people of all faiths dedicated
to the struggle for justice and peace.
EPI Board Members Protest
at School of the Americas
Three members of the Ecumenical Peace Institute board traveled at their
own expense to protest at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
Cooperation, formerly School of the Americas, in Ft. Bennings, Ga. on the
weekend of November 17-18. President Janet Gibson, secretary Esther Ho,
and newsletter editor Carolyn Scarr joined approximately two dozen
other Bay Area persons and some 8-l0,000 old and young activists from around the country.
A recently-erected chain-link fence topped with barbed wire separated
the demonstrators from the outer edges of the Ft. Benning base, which is
famous for training thousands of military personnel from Latin America
who have since been involved in human rights violations against their people.
Columbus Mayor Bobby Peters had first asked the SOA Watch not
to protest this year. When he learned that they intended to demonstrate anyway, he asked that they move the demonstration away from the base.
Then the city filed an injunction against the protest. Only two days before the demonstration U.S. District Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth ruled against the injunction, giving the protestors a constitutional right to demonstrate on Benning Road, where they had demonstrated since l990.
In the largest demonstration since SOA protest began, protestors participating
in a funeral procession that lasted more than three hours, joining huge
high-stepping puppets, a colorful dragon made of PVC pipes and old newspapers,
and mourners in black robes wearing white death masks. As each of
the names and ages of victims of military violence in Latin America were
chanted over the loudspeaker, the peaceful crowd of marchers responded
"presente" and raised high their hand-held crosses, each of which bore
the name of a victim. Several thousand protestors placed their crosses
and various signs, messages, photos and floweres on the chain-link fence
at the entrance of the base. It became a picturesque and poignant
backdrop of the panoramic scene. The presence of the chain-link fence
drastically reduced from previous years the number of protestors who were
able to "cross the line" into the base and thus risk arrest. Esther
Ho had arranged her schedule for
a somewhat delayed return and thus felt free to join five members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, of which she is member, as they crawled under the fence to try to deliver a flag to the officials of the base.
More than 45 people had joined this group as they knelt in a large circle in front of the gate and washed a United States flag in preparation for bringing it onto the base. The participants then washed their own hands in the basin to symbolize both their own complicity in the violence produced by the SOA, which they believe has stained the symbol of our country, and their desire to help cleanse the wounds caused by war-making. As the group of five, accompanied by five others who became inspired to join them, crawled under the fence at an opening made possible by a sizeable ditch, they were immediately apprehended by several of the 182 military officers who were waiting for them. Ho and most of the others in the group were given 5-year "ban and bar" letters. Three members of the group who had "gone limp" rather than cooperate in their arrest were issued life-time "ban and bar" letters and were given court dates before their release.
A total of 83 persons were arrested after entering the base, and 31 persons who had erected a "global village" in front of the gate were arrested in the evening by local police after sitting in the roadway for five hours. Father Roy Bourgeois, originator of the Ft. Benning protest, called the day "a wonderful celebration of hope." Gesturing toward the base he added, "They know we’re here, and they know we’re not going away."
— compiled from reports by the Christian Peacemaker Teams and the
EPI Program Director Tom LaBlanc is featured in a newly published book Compassionate Rebels.
The book examines the lives of a number of people, including Tom, who are committed to nonviolent social change. In reading the book, one cannot help but realize the immediate relevance of determined nonviolence to our world today.
Tom will be signing the book at the Talking Circles. Copies are
also available through EPI. Call the office at (510) 548-4141.
Working against the Death Penalty —
Small steps require much persistence
by Esther Ho
At the suggestion of Eric Moon , who heads up the death penalty work of the American Friends Service Committee, several EPI members decided to ask the District Attorney in Alameda County not to exercise the penalty in this county. We were aware that at least one county in California is already refusing to ask for the death penalty.
A long drawn-out process of getting an appointment with the District Attorney followed. When I called in late July or early August 2001 and asked for the District Attorney, I was directed to "the attorney in charge of the death penalty." He indicated that meeting with him would be a waste of time as he was a strong advocate of the death penalty.
After several more phone calls, I got in touch with District Attorney Orloff. He indicated that he would be willing to talk with me and up to three additional persons but that he would first need a biographical sketch of each person. We were rather surprised by his request but decided to provide the sketches. Since we were a group of 5 persons, I offered to introduce the others and then retire to the hallway if he was unable to accommodate all of us. When he received the biographical information, he indicated that he did not want one of the persons included in the group because she was a neighbor of his and he did not wish to mix his social life and his professional life. Although this person felt that her social contact with the District Attorney had been extremely limited, she offered to withdraw from the group, knowing that her position had been made known to him through the request to be in the delegation. We then indicated in a letter to Mr. Orloff that we regretted his unwillingness to include her but that we would nevertheless like to continue with the plan to meet with him. A date was finally set for November 27.
When the four of us ?? Carolyn Scarr and Dorothy Wonder, who are members
of the United Methodist Church, Joan MacIntyre of the Roman Catholic Church,
and myself of the Church of the Brethren -?? were ushered into Mr.
Orloff’s office, he indicated that he had set aside one hour for our discussion.
We thanked him for taking the time to meet with us and
outlined our reasons for asking him to not use the death penalty. Among the reasons given were our religious beliefs that for the State or any individual to take the life of another human being is immoral and contrary to the will of God. We presented him a 40-page document giving the positions of most denominations and major faiths opposing the death penalty. Other reasons which we gave were the evidence that the penalty does not act as a deterrent to crime but rather contributes to a climate of violence which promotes crime, the evidence that many innocent people have been executed, the compelling evidence that capital punishment is still administered in a racist and classist manner, and the exorbitant costs of the death penalty which could be used much more effectively to prevent crime.
Although the District Attorney did not indicate agreement with any of the concerns which we presented, we did feel that we were respectfully listened to, and we had the hope that subsequent visits by other groups might bring about a change in his mind. Subsequent to the meeting I was pleased to learn of some other groups in the Bay Area working on the death penalty of which I had previously been unaware. The metropolitan Democratic Clubs have just begun to work for a moratorium on the death penalty in California. In late October the Board of Supervisors of Santa Clara County approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty in California. A coalition of religious and secular people in the county, which included Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims, had been working together for l8 months to bring about that result.
The Ecumenical Peace Institute recommends that groups and individuals of conscience put their beliefs into action in regard to the issue of capital punishment. We are encouraged by the abolition of the death penalty in most industrialized nations, by the moratorium in Illinois, and by many other signs that the time is ripe for ending the taking of lives by the State. For resources on how to take action, contact EPI or the American Friends Service Committee (510-238-8080).
News from East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
by Sandy Hunter
The East Bay Sanctuary Covenant will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year with a special event, probably after Easter. We hope that many of our friends in EPI will join us for the occasion. Although the date hasn’t been chosen yet, call Sandy Hunter at (510) 524-7989 (e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive a special invitation.
Changes at EBSC
2001 brought significant changes in staffing. John Castelfranco, program coordinator for seven years retired with the appreciation and well-wishes of our community. He continues as a valuable liaison between Sanctuary and the Central American community locally. Taking his place is Kathryn (Katie) Fischer, administrative coordinator. Sr. Maureen Duignan, who has headed the Refugee Rights program for many years, was named Director of EBSC. Also newly-hired is Leonie Newhouse, as editor of the EXODUS and coordinator for one of the refugee rights programs. Both Katie and Leonie had extensive experience with Central American affairs and volunteered with refugee asylum cases for several months prior to being hired.
EBSC continues to serve hundreds of refugees through its asylum
pre-legal counseling, translators and representation at hearings. It is
the fiscal sponsor for Casa Esperanza (refugee safe house) and the
of Bay Area Haitian Council (BAHACO). EBSC’s Haiti Support
Group works for Haiti in various ways such as the Trees for Haiti project
organizing active visitation of Haitians leaders coming here and local activists going there. It supports fair trade coffee projects with Haitian growers.
I would particularly like to thank EPI members Carolyn Scarr,
Janet Gibson, Marilyn Jackson, Dorothy Wonder (Mrs. Christmas Decorations),
and Esther Ho for their contributions to our Holiday Crafts Fair this past
HAITI ACTION ALERT:
Lift U.S. Sanctions Against Haiti
Upon returning from a recent mission to Haiti, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton deplored the injustices of the international community, led by the U.S., which prevent Haiti from receiving a $146 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The loan is intended for health care, education and public works such as potable water. This loan is part of a blocked total aid package of $500 million earmarked for Haiti by international financial institutions.
A letter dated Nov. 8 to President Bush and signed by all 38 members of the Congressional Black Caucus deplored the unjust blocking of the loan and requested a meeting to discuss aid to Haiti. The meeting has not yet been scheduled nor has the Caucus received a response. Contracts for the loan (mind you it’s not a grant or a gift) were signed by the government of Haiti with the Directors of the IDB who fully approved the loan toward the end of the year 2000. At the point of disbursement of funds early last year, the U.S. Dept. of State and Secretary of Treasury, in an unprecedented action, exercised their veto power at the IDB. Since that time the government of Haiti has been fulfilling its interest obligations on the loan (so as not to void the contract) and by the end of 2001 will have paid the IDB almost $10 million for a loan it has not received.
Injustice upon injustice is heaped upon a neighbor country and a people in palpable desperation.
Consider the following:
oThe UN has designated Haiti the third hungriest country in the world.
oAverage illiteracy rate in rural areas is 85%
oAverage life expectancy is only 53 years.
oDental care is almost non-existent; Medical care - 1.2 doctors to every 10,000.
oInfant mortality is 74/1000 births.
oLess than 40% of the population have access to potable water.
oThe HIV/AIDS rate is 4% or 300,000 persons (163,000 children orphaned and 30,000 new cases a year).
Please join The Congressional Black Caucus; Coalition for African Immigrants
&Refugees; East Bay Sanctuary Covenant/ Haiti Committee; East Timor
Religious Outreach; Ecumenical Peace Institute; Global Exchange; Haiti
Action Committee; Haiti Reborn of Quixote Center; Marin Interfaith Task
Force on Central America; Parish Twinning Program of the Americas;
Pax Christi USA Haiti Task Force; Richmond Diocese Haiti Outreach and many other coalition groups and individuals to "Lift the U.S Sanctions against Haiti".
WRITE, PHONE, AND FAX!
oJoseph Biden, Chair, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee: U.S. Congress: 800-393-1082 - at the prompt enter your zip code to be connected.
oPaul H. O’Neill, Sec. Dept. of Treasury, 1500Penn Ave. NW, Wash., D.C. 20220 (202) 622-5300; FAX (202) 622-0081
oColin Powell, Sec. of State, State Dept., Washington, D.C. 20500; (202) 647-2163
oPresident Bush, The White House, 1600 Penn. Ave .NW, Wash., D.C. 20500 (202)456-1111 and/or (202) 456-1414;
FAX: (202) 456-2461
For information and to sign-on as an endorser, please contact any of
Haiti Action Committee at (510) 483-7481 email@example.com
Global Exchange at (415) 255-7296 firstname.lastname@example.org
Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center at (301) 699-0042
Peace by Peace
cross country peace walk
At the December Talking Circle you would have met Lisa and Angela Porter and their friends who are walking across the country. They describe their event as follows: "Inspired by Peace Pilgrim and precipitated by recent global events, this walk is both moving meditation centered on each of our own quests for inner peace, as well as a collective desire to actively participate in creating a world where we can live together equitably and harmoniously."
The walk will begin at the Peace Wall in downtown Berkeley, continuing through California’s Central Valley, through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, arriving in Washington, DC on September 11, 2002.
2124 Kittredge. St. #250
Berkeley, CA 94704
Ecumenical Peace Institute is glad to be the fiscal sponsor for Peace
Hiroshima Flame Interfaith Pilgrimage
War Is Not the Answer
Seattle to New York City, January 15 to May 12, 2002
People from all over the world will walk across the United States carrying a flame left from the embers of the bombing of Hiroshima. This is a spiritual pilgrimage for world peace, disarmament, to end the Star Wars Missile Defense Program, and to save Mother Earth from further destruction. It will honor the Native people who have been victims of nuclear development and listen to their message of peace.
The walk will be in San Francisco on February 11 and at the Livermore Nuclear Laboratory on February 14. The complete schedule can be found at their website, http://www.dharmawalk.org.
Good Friday Worship & Witness
March 29, 6:45 a.m. East & Vasco, Livermore
We will ask the question, "From Whence Cometh Our Security?" as we gather outside the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory to witness against the ongoing research and development of weapons of mass destruction.
In the framework of the Stations of the Cross, using music, dance and the spoken word, we will reflect on the forces of death in our society and rededicate ourselves to the service of love, life and peace. The service will include a procession to the gates of the lab and the opportunity for civil disobedience.
Community gathering with refreshments follows. Please call EPI
at (510) 548-4141 for details as the time draws nearer.
Spirit in Struggle:
Redefining National Security in the Light of Spiritual Teaching
Fifteen years ago the Ecumenical Peace Institute offered the course Spirit in Struggle. We return now to the subjects we covered and find them as relevant as ever:
oFeeding the War Machine: Impact of Militarism at Home and Abroad
o-U.S. Empire: Nature and Support of the Present System
oThe Empire Strikes: Role of Intervention and Military Threat
oGlobal Environment in Crisis
oCandles in the Rain: People Power Opposing Empire
So EPI is developing a new course to offer to congregations and other
community groups interested in examining U.S. priorities in the light of
the teachings of the faith traditions of the world. As people of
faith believing in a God of Justice, we hope to lead a prayerful examination
of our own lives and the history and practices of our country. We
will bring to this study close to 30 years of analysis and action by EPI
members in the non-violent struggle toward justice. We hope to work
together with congregations to develop the best possible presentation for their needs. Please get in touch with us at (510)548-4141.
Calendar & Announcements
Friday, Feb. 22, 4:30 - 9:00 p.m. Conference on NonViolence —Judy and Charlie Liteky will speak at the supper which is included with the $10 price. No one turned away. After supper will be the first in a series of 4 on Nonviolence by Pace e Bene held at the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at 1035 Carol Lane in Lafayette and sponsored by the Social Justice Alliance of the Interfaith Council.
March 2 & 3, Moving Beyond Terrorism: Shaping a Just U.S. Policy in the Middle East, at the Unitarian Church in San Francisco and the International House in Berkeley. Contact American Friends Service Committee, (415) 565-0201 or via email at email@example.com.
Lenten Desert Experience, 2002: Lenten Weekend, February 15 - 17; Buddhist Weekend, March 15 - 17; Palm Sunday Weekend, March 22 - 24; Holy Week Walk, March 24 - 29 (30 - 31 optional), contact Nevada Desert Experience, PO Box 46645, Las Vegas, NV 89114-6645 or www.NevadaDesertExperience.org or (702)646-4814.
Friday, March 29, 6:45 a.m., Good Friday Worship and Witness, East &
Vasco, Livermore. For more information call EPI at (510) 548-4141.
* * * * * * * *
Every Tuesday noon. Vigil opposing the sanctions against the people
Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, two blocks from the 12th Street BART Station.
Every Thursdy, 4:30 - 5:15 p.m. Vigil to oppose sanctions on Haiti.
Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, near 12th Street BART.
How You Can Help
I/We want to help by being part of the Peace and Justice work of Ecumenical
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