Oak Ridge, TN—Early this past Saturday morning three plowshares activists performed a disarmament action in response to Government plans to invest $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex.
Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice (82), and
Greg Boertje-Obed (57) entered the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility before dawn.
They delivered an indictment citing U.S. Constitutional and Treaty Law as well as the
“The ongoing building and maintenance of Oak Ridge Y-12 constitute war crimes that can and should be investigated and prosecuted by judicial authorities at all levels. We are required by International Law to denounce and resist known crimes.”
This action is one of a long tradition of Plowshares disarmament actions in the US and around the world which challenge war-making and weapons of mass destruction.
At Y-12 NNSA plans to replace facilities for production and dismantlement of enriched uranium components with a new consolidated Uranium Processing Facility (UPF). It is budgeted to cost more than $6.5 billion.
Arraignment proceedings took place Monday morning in Knoxville Federal Court for plowshares activists Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed. In a concerted effort all three declared that charges facing the Y-12 were not addressed.
“Blessed are the peacemakers!” said Erik Johnson of Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), audibly, as they entered the courtroom. After more than 48 hours detention not one appeared shaken.
They currently face one charge of federal trespass which carries a potential sentence of not more than one year imprisonment and not more than one year of supervised release as well as a maximum fine of $100,000. Preliminary information had indicated that a second felony charge of vandalism would be brought. Additional charges are possible as the legal process unfolds.
When asked if he understood the charge Michael said, “I see the document only relates to my behavior” and, “This is not related to the Government’s illegal criminal activities at Y-12”.
Megan also found the absence of charges against Y-12 “incomprehensible”.
Greg underscored the concern: “We brought an indictment explaining our action’s legal justification and it is not mentioned”.
All objected to the prosecutor's characterization of them as “members of the Plowshares organization” with “no respect for the law” who “have been bragging about their actions in the media”, as well as the assertion that they are a flight risk.
Greg clarified “There is no such thing as a Plowshare organization, only individuals who attempt to fulfill the Isaiah prophecy: beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks”. And countering the characterization that they had “no respect for the law” he added: “Juries have found [plowshare activists] not guilty and judges have ruled [so] on international law. There are precedents that juries do agree with these actions”.
Megan wore a long-sleeve thermal shirt, appearing to have found remedy from the cold Blount County Detention Center. She stated that she had no access to medication she should have, but was unimpaired functionally to participate in the proceedings. Reporters took note of her calm smile.
INDICTMENT OF THE ACTUAL CRIMES:
Today, through our nonviolent action, we — Transform Now Plowshares — indict the U.S. government nuclear modernization program, including the new Uranium Processing Facility planned at Oak Ridge and the dedication of billions of public dollars to the continuation of the Y-12 facility.
WHEREAS, This program is an ongoing criminal endeavor in violation of international treaty law binding on the United States under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article VI):
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
WHEREAS, The United States is bound by the United Nation’s Charter, ratified and signed in 1945. Its preamble affirms that its purpose is to “save future generations from the scourge of war”. It directs that “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation”. Article II regards the threat to use nuclear weapons as ongoing international criminal activity.
WHEREAS, The Nuremberg Principles, also promulgated in 1945, primarily by the U.S., prohibit crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. They render nuclear weapons systems prohibited, illegal, and criminal under all circumstances and for any reason.
WHEREAS, The U.S. government is obligated as well by the Non Proliferation Treaty, in force since 1970 that requires the signers to pursue negotiations in good faith and to eliminate nuclear weapons at an early date. The U.S. government is also obligated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits full-scale nuclear explosions.
THEREFORE, The work planned at Oak Ridge violates all these agreements and is thus criminal.
Oak Ridge Y-12 is slated to receive more than $6.5 billion in federal funding over the next decade for continuing nuclear weapons production. The new Uranium Processing Facility is expected to sustain a nuclear arsenal of 3000-3500 weapons beyond the middle of the century. Additional production facilities are sought as well. Instead of eliminating nuclear weaponry, Oak Ridge Y-12 perpetuates it through the nuclear modernization program.
Against these continuing violations of treaty law, we assert our human right to civil resistance. Furthermore we affirm as crucial the human right to be free from these crimes. The Nuremberg Principles not only prohibit such crimes but oblige those of us aware of the crime to act against it. “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity...is a crime under International Law”.
The ongoing building and maintenance of Oak Ridge Y-12 constitute war crimes that can and should be investigated and prosecuted by judicial authorities at all levels. We are required by International Law to denounce and resist known crimes.
For the sake of the whole human family threatened by nuclear weapons, and for the sake of our Planet Earth, which is abused and violated, we indict the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapon facility and all government officials, agencies, and contractors as responsible for perpetuating these war crimes.