An appeal court trial for Gerd Büntzly, 69, from Herford, Germany, will begin Wed., Jan. 16, 2019 at 2 p.m. in County Court Koblenz, Germany.
Büntzly has appealed a January 2018 conviction on trespass and property damage charges stemming from a July 2017 protest at the Büchel Air Force Base, in Germany’s Eifel region, which experts say deploys at least 20 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs for use by the German Air Force. Büntzly was sentenced to a fine (40 times his day’s wages) that could translate into 40 days in jail.
Büntzly, 69, who teaches German to refugees, is a retired music teacher, pianist, and an orchestral arranger, and is a founding member of Liebenslaute (Life Sounds), a German resistance orchestra that combines musical performance with social action. (Büntzly is available for interviews before and after the trial. (+49-522-138-0866)
On July 17, 2017, Büntzly along with four U.S. activists clipped through several chain-link fences at the German nuclear weapons base, and were eventually able to occupy the top of a heavy nuclear weapons bunker known as a protected aircraft shelter. The activists say they acted, to “end our complicity with the unlawful deployment of 20 U.S. B61 nuclear bombs on the Büchel air base.” German air force pilots of the country’s PA200 Tornado fighter jets train at the base to use the U.S. nuclear bombs under a NATO program called “nuclear sharing.”
Two of the U.S. activists that joined Büntzly in the 2017 occupation of the bunker on the base, Susan Crane from the Redwood City Catholic Worker in California, and John LaForge from Nukewatch in Wisconsin, have come to Germany for the appeal trial, where they hope to testify. Susan Crane said, “We don’t want to be complicit the ongoing planning, preparation, possession, deployment, threatened use or the use of the 20 U.S. B61 nuclear bombs at Büchel. These are violations of international humanitarian law and the Nuremberg Principles. We hope the court will recognize the Treaties that forbid nuclear weapons threats, and then reverse Büntzly’s conviction.”
International law experts from the US and Germany have condemned “nuclear sharing” as a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which both the U.S. and Germany have ratified. The NPT’s first two articles prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons to or from other countries that have ratified it. Anabel Dwyer, an international legal expert from Michigan, has submitted a formal Declaration on behalf of Büntzly, arguing that citizens are permitted to try and prevent unlawful or criminal government conduct, especially alleged violations of Treaties outlawing the planning of war crimes.
Marion Küpker, spokesperson for the German-wide campaign “Büchel is Everywhere: Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!” also said that Büntzly’s nonviolent civil resistance was justified. “In 1999, a Scottish court recognized a ‘defense of crime prevention’ under international humanitarian law, when it acquitted three women who had acted against Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine program by throwing parts of its maintenance system into the sea,” Küpker said.
Germany’s “Büchel is Everywhere” campaign has now been endorsed by 60 groups and organizations, and sponsors a nonviolent action camp outside the Büchel base from March 26 to Aug. 9. In the past two years, more than 60 individuals have joined “go-in” actions during the weeks of peace camp. In 2019, there will be another 20 weeks of nonviolent protests at the base.
In the coming years, a new U.S. B61 bomb, the B61-mod 12, is set to be built at a cost of around $12 billion, and the U.S. plans to deploy the new bomb at Büchel and six other NATO bases in Europe where the U.S. Air Force’s current B61-3s and B61-4s are now used. The other “nuclear sharing” sites are in The Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and (two in) Italy. #####