By Marion Küpker
Nukewatch is part of the network “Abolish nuclear weapons-start with us!” consisting of 75 peace organizations. Since 2017, Nukewatch has helped organize U.S. delegations to our International Week of Actions in the annual “Büchel is everywhere! Nuclear Weapons-free Now” campaign. There are 10-20 U.S. nuclear bombs at the German army “Bundeswehr” Büchel NATO airbase as part of the nuclear sharing program. These bombs are to be exchanged, as soon as the base’s infrastructure modernizations are finished, with the B61-12 bombs also produced in the U.S. Our non-violent actions were directed against this nuclear weapons deployment, which is contrary to international law, law that is officially supposed to be applied in German courts. Of the many court cases resulting from “go-in” actions of civil resistance at the base, there have now been 18 appeals to the Constitutional Court in which the convictions were upheld. In addition, there is an appeal by two resisters pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Nukewatch co-director John LaForge just served jail time from January 10 to February 28 as the first U.S. citizen imprisoned for “go-in” actions: he refused to pay the court-imposed fine. While in prison, John received notice of the Constitutional Court’s refusal to consider his appeal (the 18th).
In early February, our Campaign Strategy Conference determined the organizing of protests at the Büchel air base has become extremely difficult. We no longer get any local peace camp areas approved. Further, the military built itself a positive image during the Corona pandemic. Although civil-military cooperation is prohibited by law in Germany, Büchel soldiers organized the tracking of Corona-infected people in the district. During the 2021 flood in the Ahr Valley, which killed more than 100 people, part of the military base became the hub for disaster response, and helicopters carrying soldiers rushed in to assist. Climate disasters currently give the military a good image, while the people are left financially alone with the reconstruction costs in the affected areas. Since the war in Ukraine, the media and politicians have shown solidarity with the military on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, we do not want to be driven away. Religious vigils with church representatives now take place monthly on the peace meadow near the main gate. At the June 24, 2023 event, Rev. Dr. Jochen Cornelius-Bundschuh (a retired bishop and professor) will preach. IPPNW and ICAN will do their blockade actions in early July this year at the airbase Nörvenich, because the Büchel air force squadron has temporarily moved their fighter planes there, due to infrastructure work at Büchel. Furthermore, discussion is ongoing regarding protests against the Constitutional Court demanding that it finally address the question of nuclear sharing in Germany under international law. We want a court ruling on this, whatever it is. We want to read their arguments.
On August 31, 2024, our anti-nuclear network will have existed for 30 years! At our strategy conference, we discussed organizing an “International Tribunal on the Illegality of Nuclear Sharing,” where experts would testify. Discussions will continue in mid-March. Europe without nuclear sharing! For a world without nuclear weapons!
— Marion Küpker is spokeswoman for the German campaign “Büchel is everywhere! Nuclear-Weapons free Now!”