COCHEM, Germany, June 10, 2020 — Three peace activists were convicted of ‘damage to property’ and ‘trespass’ for their part in a July 15, 2018 protest at the Büchel Air Force Base in west-central Germany, where the United States Air Force deploys 20 hydrogen bombs. The trial of Marion Küpker, of Hamburg, Germany Stephanie Augustine, of Dortmund, Germany and Margriet Bos, of Amsterdam, Netherlands was the latest in a series of trials resulting from a long-running campaign of nonviolent resistance directed against the threatened use of the US nuclear bombs. District Judge Andre Zimmermann sentenced Küpker, Bos and Augustine to fines ranging between 1,200 and 300 Euros, or to a possible 30 days in jail for refusing to pay.
The regional paper Rhein-Zeitung reported, “The three women entered the Büchel air base together with a total of 18 people during an international protest week,” July 15, 2018. The protest was aimed at US nuclear weapons used at the NATO base where the Luftwaffe’s Tornado fighter jet pilots from Germany’s 33rd Tactical Air Force Wing train to drop the US nuclear weapons which are maintained there by the US Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron. The widely reported mid-summer action saw five separate openings cut in the base’s chain link fence, through which the 18 resisters entered in small groups unhindered, in broad daylight, on a Sunday morning. One person got through in a wheel chair, and another entered using crutches.
In court, Küpker took the time to read her 10-page personal statement explaining her motive and intention for taking the action. Küpker, the coordinator of Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and a staff member with the German Fellowship of Reconciliation, also read the 11-page formal declaration of Anabel Dwyer, a retired attorney and law school lecturer from Michigan. German legal process requires that documents be read aloud in court, not just submitted in writing, to become part of the trial record.
Küpker told the court in part, “I would like to make a comparison here: If a judge or prosecutor held children on his heavily fenced and armed property (garden) and I became aware of it and, despite intensive disclosure of this illegal activity, the responsible state organs could not be persuaded to intervene, I would. I would have no concern about cutting open their fences and entering this garden together with others. If the courts then view this intrusion only as trespassing and property damage, they become accomplices and henchmen of kidnappers. Even if I find gardens without fences more beautiful, I would only be interested in intervening in the event of such a justifying emergency.” Kupker intends to appeal the conviction.
“The storage of the approx. 20 nuclear weapons in Büchel and the practice and preparation of their use by German pilots — and in the NATO alliance — violate the human right to health. These Büchel atomic bombs enable the practical continuation of ‘nuclear participation’ in Germany. For this illegal nuclear weapons deployment in Germany, the production of atomic bombs was necessary, which has caused and continues to cause serious health damage to all people in our world,” Küpker said.
In her statement to the court, Margriet Bos said in part, “I believe that my actions and the actions of every human being can have great effects. That’s another reason I entered Büchel Air Base, hoping to draw attention to the suffering being prepared there. And I will not remain silent as long as I believe that things can be done differently. That’s why I went to Büchel Air Base, and that’s why I asked you to hear me today.”
At the base pilots of Germany’s the 33rd Tactical Air Force Wing train using their PA-200 Tornado jet fighters to detonate the US H-bombs against areas in Russia if so ordered by a US president. The base is home to the US Air Force’s 702 Munitions Support Squadron which maintains the Cold War-era free-fall “dumb” nuclear bombs — set to be replaced in the coming years with a new, more accurate H-bomb.
Seven of the 18 who joined the July 15 “go-in” action were from a US delegation to the “International Week” organized by Nukewatch in the US and GAAA (Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) in Germany. Only two of the seven, Dennis DuVall formerly of Prescott, Arizona and John LaForge of Luck, Wisconsin have been issued similar charges for the action. DuVall was convicted of the same in a May 11 trial in Cochem. ############