At the Catholic Worker we have a theory. If 1% of those who marched against the war were willing to go into nonviolent resistance to the point of imprisonment and the other 99% who marched were in proactive solidarity with these resisters, we could have, and still can, stop these wars.
It shouldn't be a case of resisters isolated in jail and the rest of us going home thinking because "we can do little, we can do nothing at all". In truth, we are neophytes to both serious nonviolent resistance and to building a culture of solidarity. We have a lot to learn on both scores.
Anti-war resistance springs from the most unlikely places and we must be alert beyond our limited social circles and expectations. In 2010, US Army Intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad accused of releasing footage of a US war crime - the slaying of 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians by a US helicopter gunship (www.collateralmurder.com).
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who was central to circulating this footage and subsequent cables became the latest US public enemy. Meanwhile, in Plymouth Royal Navy medic Michael Lyons viewed and read the WikiLeaks exposes dealing with the nature of the war on Afghanistan and in consicence decided to refuse his deployment orders to Afghanistan.
For the past year we have attempted to raise the name of Bradley Manning (reared in Wales) in Britain with vigils, speak outs and blockades of Downing St. We have stood outside the dozen court appearances of Julian Assange as he has run the gauntlet of detention without chatge and character assasination. When we read of the imprisonment of Michael Lyons in Colchester Military Corrective Training Centre we contacted his wife Lilian, staged a vigil with 25 other peace activists outside Colchester MCTC, included Michael Lyons name in our anti-war vigils and blockades. Along with Veterans for Peace we went to visit Michael imprisoned in Colchester.
We put a call out for financial support for Michael and his wife. An Australian rock band immediately kicked in 300 quid, a couple of hundred more came from our informal network. Peace News took up the call and donations doubled.
Many thanks to all the Peace News readers who contributed to raising the £1,000 and for all those who wrote letters to Michael during his incarceration. Many thanks to Lilian and Michael, who has now been released, for continuing the nonviolent resistance to this war on the people of Afghanistan.