By ShannonWatch, May 4, 2022
IRELAND — Shannonwatch are shocked at the imposition of a €10,000 fine on peace activists Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers for taking a peaceful action against the US military use of Shannon Airport. Despite being acquitted on two charges of criminal damage and trespass, they were still found guilty of interfering with the operation, management or safety of the airport.
“This exceptionally punitive sentence is a move clearly aimed at discouraging peaceful objection to Ireland’s complicity in war” said Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan. “By imposing such a heavy fine at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday 4th May, Judge Patricia Ryan has effectively disregarded the lawful excuse Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers had for entering the airport in March 2019, and sent a strong message that opposition to the war industry will not be tolerated. The Veterans for Peace sole aim was to end the cycles of killing that Ireland is complicit in, despite its claims to be neutral.”
Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff were arrested on St. Patrick’s Day 2019, at Shannon Airport for going onto the airfield to inspect U.S. military aircraft or cause them to be inspected. They carried a banner that said, “U.S. Military Veterans Say: Respect Irish Neutrality; U.S. War Machine Out of Shannon.” Over three million armed U.S. troops have passed through the airport since 2001 on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East, in violation of Irish neutrality and international law. Kauff and Mayers felt obliged to address the fact that the Irish authorities have to date refused to inspect the planes or to provide any information about what is on them.
There were three aircraft associated with the US military at Shannon at the time. These were a Marine Corps Cessna jet, a US Air Force Transport C40 aircraft, and an Omni Air International aircraft on contract to the U.S. military.
The defendants, who are U.S. military veterans and members of Veterans for Peace, have already spent 13 days in Limerick Prison in 2019 as a result of this peace action. Subsequent to that, their passports were confiscated, forcing them to spend a further eight months in Ireland.
The case was moved up from District to Circuit Court, where a jury trial was required, and from County Clare, where the airport is located, to Dublin.
Kauff and Mayers are clear that their action was aimed at ending the devastation of war.
“Our purpose was in our own way, to put the government and the U.S. military on trial for killing people, destroying the environment, and betraying the Irish people’s concept of their own neutrality,” said Kauff. “U.S. war-making is literally destroying this planet, and I don’t want to be silent about it.”
Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch said “No senior US political or military US leaders have ever been held accountable for war crimes committed in these Middle East wars, and no Irish officials have been held accountable for active complicity in these war crimes. Yet over 38 peace activists, including Mayers and Kauff, have been prosecuted for carrying out fully justified nonviolent peace actions at Shannon Airport in order to expose and try to prevent Irish complicity in these war crimes.”
Shannonwatch also note that in the course of the trial, not a single Gardai or airport security officer could point to a US military plane having ever been inspected for weapons while at the airport. Indeed, John Francis, chief of security at Shannon testified that he “wouldn’t be aware” if weapons or munitions were moving through the facility.
US warplanes were still being refuelled at Shannon Airport while the trial was taking place.
“This peace action by Kauff and Mayers is a small but significant step towards getting some accountability for war crimes by the US and other countries, including recent Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The world and humanity are now on the brink of World War 3 combined with catastrophic climate change, partly caused by militarism and resource wars. Peace by peaceful means was never more urgent.” said Edward Horgan.