Thursday, March 17, 2011

People can change. Ann Wright on Freedom Flotilla 2 and Situation in Libya.Video

Ann Wright - ©2006 Robert Shetterly-

Ann Wright Biography

Army Colonel, Foreign Diplomat,
Anti-war Activist, Peace Advocat, 1946 -

"I have served my country for almost thirty years in some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world. I want to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the policies of this Administration and cannot --- morally and professionally --- defend or implement them. It is with heavy heart that I must end my service to America and therefore resign."

Patriotism can manifest in many forms, and has for Mary Ann Wright. She has been a career military woman, a State Department diplomat, and for the past few years an influential spokesperson in the anti-war movement. Ann Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she holds a Master's and a Law Degree. She also has a Master's Degree in National Security Affairs from the US Naval War College. In her junior year at the University of Arkansas, she attended a three-week Army training program after meeting with a visiting Army recruiter. That experience helped inform her decision to join the service.

There she would remain for 13 years in active duty, with another 16 years in the Army reserves, retiring as a Colonel. Ironically, part of her work was special operations in civil affairs, in the event of troop invasions into countries like Iraq. Ann helped to develop, as she explained, "plans about how you interact with the civilian population, how you protect the facilities – sewage, water, electrical grids, libraries…It's our obligation under the law of land warfare." Ann requested a release from active duty from the Army and joined the State Department. For the next 16 years, she served as a foreign diplomat in countries such as Nicaragua, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and Sierra Leone. She was on the team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001, after the fall of the Taliban to US forces.

In all those years, Ann Wright was proud of her representation of America. However, on March 13, 2003, the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, Col.. Ann Wright sent a letter of resignation to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. She felt that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the US invasion and occupation of a Moslem, Arab oil-rich country would be a disaster. Only two other State Department officials resigned at that time over the imminent invasion. In an interview, Ann explained that, in Foreign Service, "Your job is to implement the policies of an administration…if you strongly disagree with any administration's policies, and wish to speak out, your only option is to resign. I understood that and that's one of the reasons I resigned – to give myself the freedom to talk out."

Talk out she has. Since resigning, patriotism for Ann Wright has been as an anti-war activist. She worked with Cindy Sheehan organizing Camp Casey, and appeared in the documentary "Uncovered: The Truth About the Iraq War". She travels and lectures on foreign policy issues. She has been arrested five times in the past year for protesting Bush's policies, and has referred to herself cheerfully as a "felon for peace". This retired Army Colonel has also recently been temporarily banned not only from two military bases for placing postcards there about a showing of the documentary "Sir, No Sir", but from the US Capitol area (her case is still pending), and the National Press Club (this a lifetime ban), for voicing opinions and questions concerning Bush's policies and the Iraq war.

Amsterdam, March the 7th 2011


Freedom Flotilla 2 calls upon governments

for protection of its citizens

Amsterdam – The organisations united in Freedom Flotilla 2 call upon their respectivegovernments to take concrete action to ensure the safety of their citizens and prevent arepetition of last year's lethal assault on their flotilla. On 31 May, 2010, the Israeli navyattacked a humanitarian sea convoy on its way to deliver solidarity and aid to the besiegedpeople of the Gaza Strip, killing nine civilians. In May this year, a new flotilla will set sail tobreak and end the illegal blockade of Gaza. Organisers met in Amsterdam this past weekendto further their preparations.

Governments around the world condemned Israel's attack on the Freedom Flotilla ininternational waters. UN Human Rights Council investigators called the treatment of civiliansaboard the ships brutal and disproportionate. "There is clear evidence to support prosecutionsof the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the fourth Geneva Convention: wilfulkilling; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to bodyor health," the UN Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission report determined.

The International Committee of the Red Cross deemed the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Stripillegal because it constitutes collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The UN FactFinding Mission report affirmed, "the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law (….)regardless of the grounds." Governments are legally bound to uphold and act against violationsof international law and human rights treaties. This includes not only the blockade of the GazaStrip and ongoing violence against the civilian population there, but also the colonization of theWest Bank, the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, and the construction of the Separation Wall,declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Yet, the community of states isshamefully appeasing Israel's crimes instead of acting to stop them.

"The humanitarian mission of the Freedom Flotilla 2 is a non-violent response to the deafeningsilence of our governments", says Benji de Levie, spokesperson for the Dutch delegation. "Anyattempt made – political or military- to obstruct or prevent the arrival of the Freedom Flotillain the port of Gaza is an act in violation of international law and should be treated accordinglyby our governments." De Levie: "In the light of the current peaceful people-power protestsin the Middle East, we expect our governments to be consistent in their foreign policycondemning all forms of human rights violations against peaceful civilian initiatives, regardlessthe perpetrator."

Preparations in all regions involved (Europe, North America, North Africa, Asia, South-Americaand Australia) are going according to schedule. Approximately 15 ships carrying cargo andover a thousand freedom riders will set sail for Gaza in May. Among them will be journalists,politicians, humanitarian aid workers, artists, and human rights activists. The grassrootscampaigns within the countries are growing steadily, which is reflected in large public events,such as the upcoming solidarity concerts and events.…

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