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Because I Know

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From January 16th through the 18th, 2008 I was in court on trial for a peaceful witness, known as The Rivers of Blood , against the Iraq war-occupation.
The thirty-one activists I was a part of were charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. We were found not guilty of disorderly conduct but guilty of unlawful assembly. The reasoning the judge used to find us guilty was that we could have incited violence in others because of our messaging on our t-shirts and banner.
This saddens and troubles me especially on this day when we celebrate the great nonviolent peacemaker Martin Luther King Jr.. Would King have been found guilty in a court like this for his nonviolent witness? What does this decision of guilt mean for others who attempt to redress their grievances in a nonviolent peaceful manner?
I acted because I know that what is happening in our names is wrong and illegal. We all have a responsibility to act to stop this blood illegal war waged in our names, with our tax money, fueled by lies, fear, and the coveting of Iraq's oil.
I attempted to read my sentencing statement but was cut off after the prosecutor objected and the judge concurred. I was silenced and sentenced in the court room but will continue my work of nonviolent resistance to the war-making.
My sentencing statement of January 18, 2007 in DC Superior Court:
Because I Know
Judge Keary,
You have found me guilty of unlawful assembly in a trial about my actions on September 20, 2007 in the US Capitol peacefully expressing my dissent against the war and occupation of Iraq and calling for an end to all funding for this illegal and immoral war-occupation. Being found guilty in this court is of little significance to me.
What is of significance to me is that I have followed my conscience having the knowledge that over a million innocent people have been killed as a direct result of the many years of US sanctions and war against the people of Iraq. I know that we the people were lied to by President Bush and by the many other elected and appointed government officials complicit in this bloody fraud.
We know from former Secretary of the Treasury O'Neil that from the very beginning of the Bush Administration Iraq was a target for military action and regime change long before the lies concerning the connection between Saddam Hussein and the criminal attack of September 11, 2001.
We know from the revelation of former Ambassador Joe Wilson that the Bush Administration used false claims about Iraq having uranium to make nuclear weapons. We know from the leaked private memos of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, commonly referred to as the Downing Street Memos, that evidence used to justify an attack on Iraq was fixed.
We know that people in the highest level of our political establishment have come forward to say that our attack and occupation of Iraq is about oil and not about what were told by our president specifically that it was about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. The former head of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan has acknowledged this recently. He said this is all about the oil.
We know that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, when he spoke before the United Nations in February 2003, knew that he was not making truthful statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He has referred to this as the darkest event of his professional life. There have been many dark days since especially for the children, women, and men of Iraq.
The United States has attacked another member of the United Nations which is a violation of international law. The United States, under the orders of President Bush and with the complicity of the US Congress, has violated international law and committed war crimes in Iraq because of these illegal fraudulent orders.
I acted on September 20th in a peaceful nonviolent manner redressing my grievances against the United States Congress that continues to fund this illegal war-occupation to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. In fact, we are fast approaching half a trillion dollars for our war-making on Iraq and Afghanistan. We are all responsible for doing something to stop this war immediately. We have the same responsibility the German people had to stop Hitler with his illegal invasion and occupation of several European countries. We have the same responsibility to stop the deadly occupation of Iraq and our country's plan for more war. This is the same type of responsibility the Germans had to stop Hitler with his concentration camps.
In trials like ours we may not be able to speak about the US Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Geneva Conventions, The Nuremberg Principles, Habeas Corpus, and international law. However, these things exist and cannot be ignored or wiped from our minds. These things are not irrelevant. We cannot be know-nothings when we know something. And when we know that a grave violation of law has occurred we must respond even if it means we pay a personal price.
What is disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly when compared to an illegal war and occupation built on deceit, falsehood, and law-breaking that has cost the Iraqi people so much bloodshed and misery and is in fact a violation of the supreme law of the land? This is the real criminality. Things must be made right and proper.
I and others here today attempted to do this in a creative peaceful way. We want things made right and proper for the Iraqi people because of our war-making.  We are nonviolent people Judge Keary. We spoke out against this illegal war because it is our duty. It is our responsibility. We did this not as careless scofflaws and trouble-makers but as people of conscience desperate to uphold the highest laws and principles of our republic in the name of the Iraqi people who are our victims.
The court does not operate in a vacuum. None of us are off the hook. We are all responsible for what is done in our name by our republic. I cannot be silent. I cannot be an inactive participant in this immoral wrong-doing by a government that is supposedly of, by, and for the people. As our congress continues to fund war-making, as the Iraqi people continue to die because of us, as people wait for the next election in the desperate hope that things will change I am called by my conscience to act and speak out against the illegality of the Iraq War.
Therefore, I will not be silent. I will not be inactive. I will not wait for an election. I will speak out. I will actively resist and dissent in a peaceful way against the immoral and illegal policies of our government. I will not regret or repent of my actions on September 20, 2007 no matter how punitive any punishment may be. I will do this because I know. And those of us who know about the law-breaking of our government leaders must respond. I must respond because I know. I do this because I know there are no innocent bystanders including this court.
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Malachy Kilbride is an activist presently serving as the president of the board of The Washington Peace Center, www.washingtonpeacecenter.net , in Washington DC and has served on the national coordinating committee of Declaration of Peace and (more...)
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