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News > Maguire Protests War in Iraq
Peace Councilor Máiread Maguire Continues Lenten fasting in front of White House
PEACE COUNCIL UPDATE (Washington, D.C., April 3, 2003): Peace Councilor Máiread Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate, 1976) intends to maintain a liquids-only fast during the forty days of Lent as she keeps a daily vigil in front of the White House, waiting for President Bush to respond to her letter (reproduced at the bottom of this page) asking him to meet with her and other peacemakers. On March 26, the first day of her protest, Maguire was arrested and released (see story below).
On March 31 she issued the following statement:
PRESS RELEASE: Nobel Peace Laureate Issues an "Apology to the People of Iraq"
Mairead Corrigan Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner, continues daily vigil outside White House; calls for a cease-fire
Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003 - From her daily vigil outside The White House, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire called for an immediate cease-fire in the war against Iraq. Maguire is asking for a dialogue between the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq in order to put a halt to the unnecessary deaths of Iraqi civilians and soldiers from both sides.
"It is with deep sorrow that I read the reports from Iraq and the ongoing shameful slaughter and destruction of human life--civilians and soldiers," Maguire stated. "Two missiles from a single American jet killed more than 20 Iraqi civilians. Those killed included a mother and her 3 small children who were incinerated in their car."
Maguire said that these deaths reminded her of the violent deaths of her sister, Anne Maguire, and her three children, Joanne (age 8), John (2) and Andrew (six weeks). Their deaths as a result of the violent conflict in Northern Ireland led Maguire to the work for which she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
"I would like to know the names of this Iraqi mother and her children, so that we can remember them in the prayer vigil we are holding outside The White House," said Maguire. "Daily we sit, facing Mecca in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq, and we ask Allah for forgiveness. We will say we are 'sorry' to the Iraqi people for destroying their children, their mothers, their families with our Western weapons of mass destruction, under the orders of the Anglo-American forces directed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair."
Maguire also expressed her deepest sympathies to the families of American and British soldiers who have died in this "immoral and illegal" invasion of Iraq.
Tragically, if a cease-fire is not called and the Anglo-American forces advance into Baghdad, many more will die. . . It is precisely because we care about each human life, and proclaim it sacred, that we vigil, fast, pray, and carry out civil disobedience until this war ends," stated Maguire.
For more information, contact Johnny Zokovitch (Pax Christi, USA) at 352-219-8419 or Michael Jones at 814-964-0078.
Peace Councilor Máiread Maguire Arrested in White House War Protest
UPDATE (March 27): Máiread Maguire and the other persons arrested were ticketed and released by police on Wednesday evening, March 26.
(Reuters, Wed. Mar 26, 2003: 3:18 PM ET)
By Sue Pleming
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Police arrested two Nobel Peace prize winners along with more than 60 other people protesting on Wednesday near the White House against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Police handcuffed Mairead Corrigan maguire, who won the prize in 1976 for peace activism in the Northern Ireland conflict, and jody Williams, a 1997 winner for her work to ban land mines, after they refused to leave Lafayette park opposite the home of the U.S. president.
The Nobel laureates were detained along with religious leaders and Vietnam-era protester Daniel Ellsberg as they sat in a circle in the park and chanted "Peace, shalom." they held roses as well as gruesome posters showing civilian casualties from the war.
Maguire told Reuters before being taken away that she planned to stage an anti-war protest each day outside the White House until April 18, Good Friday on the Christian calendar.
"In Northern Ireland we were encouraged to resolve our problems with dialogue and i would like to see that happen here," added Maguire, who said she had asked President Bush to meet her.
Williams hugged Maguire before they were both handcuffed and loaded into a police van.
"This is what our democracy looks like," shouted Williams to reporters when she was handcuffed by police.
A spokesman for the U.S. Parks Police said nine people had been arrested for crossing a police line opposite the White House and that the rest were held for protesting without a permit. "We expect them all to be released within a couple of hours," he said.
Ellsberg, a former Marine and high-level military analyst who leaked Pentagon secrets about the Vietnam war to the press in 1971, was cheered by supporters who stood behind police barriers when he was led away.
Catholic and Methodist bishops and a leading rabbi were also among those arrested in the demonstration, which was organized by the Catholic group Pax Christi.
Bush was not in the White House at the time of the protest but in Florida for a briefing on the war at Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.
Letter from Máiread Maguire to President Bush
24th March, 2003.
Dear Mr. President,
I have come from Northern Ireland to Washington, in the hope that I might meet with you, to talk about the suffering of the children in Iraq.
My name is Mairead Corrigan Maguire. In l976 my sister Ann’s three children were killed during the troubles in Northern Ireland. I, together with Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown started a movement for Peace. For this both Betty Williams and I were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in l976. During our work for peace, we were helped by many people around the World, and especially by the American Administration who helped encourage the people of Northern Ireland to start dialogue and begin the process of peace. In gratitude for this help, and because I know the pain of violence and war, I have come to America to be with people here in this sad and tragic period of your history, and the history of the world’s people. I came to fast and pray with the people here.
When I visited Iraq I was so sad to see the suffering of the children. I am now concerned about the possibility that there will be many more deaths, of children and soldiers, on both sides, if the war continues.
Mr. President, will you please consider meeting with myself and some colleagues in order that we may talk and listen to each other about possible resolutions to this sad tragedy effecting all our lives and future.
You, and your family are in my prayers each day.
God Bless you, Mr. President,
Mairead Corrigan Maguire
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