By John LaForge
In honor of the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (September 26), Germany’s nationwide campaign Büchel is Everywhere! Nuclear Weapons-Free Now! will stage protest actions outside the offices of high-level courts that have made or will soon make decisions regarding nuclear weapons protest cases challenging the practice of U.S. “nuclear sharing” in Europe.
Nukewatch will participate in the events as part of the campaign to see U.S. nuclear weapons withdrawn from Europe.
The first “Wake Up Justice!” action is set for Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the seat of Germany’s Constitutional Court, its highest. On 20 separate occasions the high court has refused to issue an opinion explaining its dismissal of appeals by nuclear resisters who’ve objected to their convictions in lower courts over nonviolent “go-in” protest actions.
In Karlsruhe, participants plan on a rally and some irreverent street theater characterizing the Constitutional Court as a silent protector of the nuclear weapons establishment and a co-conspirator in deliberate violation of the 1970 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Additionally, a civil lawsuit brought by a local resident living near Büchel airbase which argued that nuclear sharing unlawfully endangers her and the whole region by making it a target, was also rejected by the Constitutional Court.
Following the Karlsruhe protest events, campaigners will set out Sept. 23 on a climate neutral 62-mile bicycle delegation across the border to Strasbourg, France and the seat of the European Court of Human Rights. A rally will take place there Monday September 25.
Binding international law ignored by courts
For 30 years, peace activists have organized protests aimed at the U.S. bombs in Büchel demanding that they be withdrawn, have repeatedly resorted to nonviolent interventions, and have sometimes faced prosecution. The long campaign has seen twenty nuclear abolitionists file Constitutional Court complaints (appeals) against the U.S. weapons at “Fliegerhorst Büchel” arguing in part that the foreign stationing of nuclear weapons there violates their human and civil rights and is prohibited by the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Because Germany’s high court has upheld trial court convictions of nonviolent resisters without explaining its reasons, five activists have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. They have argued that their convictions were in error under Article 6 of ECHR Charter on the grounds that trial court judges unfairly refused to consider testimony from expert witnesses. Article 103 of Germany’s Basic Law also guarantees the right to a fair trial.
Even after 18 months, the first two appellants to the ECHR have yet to hear whether the court will consider their appeal.
These high courts are obligated to recognize and comply with treaty law above all other statutes, and the activists and their attorneys have provided the judges an opportunity to finally rule on the legal status of nuclear sharing.
The “Wake Up Justice” events are partly an alarm bell to alert the German and European courts to the issue, especially in view of the increased nuclear risks brought on by the war in Ukraine.