SHANNON, IRELAND - June 24 - As protests build for George Bushs June 25 visit to Ireland, reliable media sources report that a temporary detention center and courtroom have set been up at Shannon airport, with cells, like cages, for prisoners. Two water cannons destined for Shannon have been hired from the police service in the North of Ireland for only the second time in the history of the Irish State.
Women from the Global Womens Strike who are joining the protest ask: Are we also to be caged like the detainees in Guantanamo or the inmates of Abu Ghraib? Is the Irish government intending to import the Troubles in the North to the South of Ireland? It seems ready to assist the US regime in extending its right to detain and torture at will all over the world.
The Strike will join many other women, children and men at Shannon airport on Friday, 25th June at 7pm to demonstrate our outrage that a war criminal who has organised torture at US bases around the world only the latest in Iraq is being welcomed to this country, at the very airport that the US has illegally used to transport its war machine for slaughter and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Women from the Strike have maintained a weekly picket for over one year outside the main Garda (police) station in Galway, demanding that the Gardai and the Irish army refuse to protect warplanes and US troops at Shannon airport, which is illegal under the neutrality written into the Irish constitution. On Wednesdays picket, many people gave us their support and said they intended to join the protest. A housewife said, You are right to be here asking the Guards to refuse to protect that Bush. Ill be there at the protest. Tell me the best way to drive around the road-blocks. My whole family is coming and I want to bring my father who is 78. Hes determined to oppose Bushs visit.
One 73 year old pensioner and widow who will be opposing Bush was first a servant then a housewife and now also a two-time survivor of breast cancer. She has welcomed US presidential visits in the past, part of what she saw as a strong connection between Ireland and the US, and remembers that in her home-place they had a portrait of John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier on the wall alongside the Pope. With Afghanistan, she wrote to relatives in Texas to say why she opposed the war and how many of us did here in Ireland and round the world. On this visit she says, I cant be at the demonstration but if I could, I would announce to everyone around me that this man is a war criminal and then Id turn my back on him and walk off.
That is the opposition to the Bush visit in this country; the numbers on the demonstrations will only be the tip of the iceberg; many of us have children to mind, night shifts in hospitals to work, offices to clean, sick and elderly loved ones to give 24-hour care to. But we are with those demonstrating opposition.
The money and resources going into the massive security operation at Shannon may well keep some people away from the protests. And the checkpoints and roadblocks may keep us from our legal rights to assemble and demonstrate peacefully. But the government in the long run may pay a heavy price. Never again will they be able to claim they are acting to further or protect democracy. We expect the media to bear witness, if we are prevented from getting to Shannon.
The disgust of people in Ireland that a man responsible for the torture we all saw on our TV screens is being welcomed here by the Irish government is hard to over-emphasise. Almost completely hidden but something that many women ask about is the fact that women have been detained in the prisons, and that those women have been subjected to rape and other sexual torture. Iraqi women say that they are also routinely attacked and sexually assaulted at checkpoints, on the streets and on house raids by coalition forces. This is the result of military training, which promotes rape as a reward and as a component of soldiers pay. US military families know its horrific effects on them and society as a whole.
The soldiers who are carrying out these war crimes must have flown through Shannon airport, so the Irish government has dragged us into facilitating this attack on Iraqis and particularly on women. We know rape is an instrument of war everywhere. Why was this not raised when our government gave over the use of Shannon against our wishes?
Attacking the person who is the carer of everyone else is the prime means of breaking up the whole society, replacing a culture of caring with a culture of permanent war, killing and destruction of our common history. In Ireland we still carry the weight of several centuries of that kind of nation-building under colonial rule. As they bomb civilisation to bits in the Middle East, the US government and its Coalition of the Willing to Kill want to impose on us all the social priority of $1 trillion dollars a year in global military budgets. Half of that is the US military.
We can see the same priority in the millions spent for Bushs security on this visit; in conversations on the streets, in the shops and pubs, everyone is naming life-saving alternatives that that money should go to. Military budgets kill twice over, once when they take away money from carers, what women need to ensure that families survive, and put it into the war chests, and again when they use the weapons of mass destruction to maim, kill and torture. Inviting George Bush and his shoot-to-kill protection force, our craven government has invited itself into the club of killers and rapists. We women refuse all association with this; we are with our sisters in the US who dont want Bush there either.
We call on the Gardai and the Irish army to uphold Irish neutrality, refuse to protect this rapist warmonger, and arrest George Bush as a war criminal. Women in Media and Entertainment are organising a Vigil of Shame in Galway at the top of the main street from 8am on Saturday morning until 12 noon and are going to the Garda Station with signatures to demand an arrest warrant be issued.
We also demand the protection of the Gardai and Army for our right to protest where we wish to and from the shoot to kill tactics of the US secret service.
Invest in Caring Not Killing! Global Womens Strike, Galway, Ireland
The Global Womens Strike is an independent network of grassroots women in over 60 countries. It is co-ordinated in Ireland by the Wages for Housework Campaign in Galway. See web site: http://www.womenstrike8m.server101.com
Email: email@example.com See also http://www.refusingtokill.net