I asked a series of questions at Christmas lunch: Could I in good conscience go on a date with a man who owns a company that provides private security in Iraq? Has that man chosen to do a dirty job? Or is he merely filling a market niche that if left unfilled would be filled by someone else? And is the service he has chosen to provide inherently unethical or is that open to interpretation?
The man in question is not Erik Prince and the company of mercenaries is not Blackwater. If he were and it were, I never would have had to ask those questions.
make/shift sent me this article. It’s about activists who were arrested, tried, and convicted in secret for peacefully protesting the Blackwater massacre of civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in September 2007.
On 20 October 2007, 50 protestors staged a “die-in” outside Blackwater’s private military base in North Carolina. Seven of the protestors were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Six of them were also charged with resisting arrest, and one also with injury to real property. The seven protestors were kept in jail for 5 days before being released pending trial.
Their trial was on 5 December. As the protestors’ intention had been to draw attention to Blackwater’s conduct and “war crimes”, which had all gone unpunished, they attempted to continue in that vein at their trial. But at the first convenient moment, that is as soon as the first defendant had been convicted, the judge effectively silenced the protestors by clearing the courtroom. The people the judge expelled included spectators, journalists, the families of the defendants, and defence witnesses. Those allowed to remain included sheriffs, government witnesses and a Blackwater official. The remaining six protestors were tried thus, in a secret closed courtroom without a single member of the press or, in fact, any independent witnesses. All were convicted.
We have traditions of activism, protest and non-violent civil disobedience in the US. We have the examples of the Boston Tea Party, Henry David Thoreau, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But what have we got in The New Amerika?
The convicted criminals appealed and the ACLU filed a complaint against the judge. Blackwater continues to operate with impunity.