24 Aug

Could U.S. Officials Please Treat a Nobel Peace Laureate with Respect?

We should all be ashamed. The treatment of this lady is the height of insanity.

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire

By Ann Wright, Retired U.S. Army Colonel, August 24, 2009

Less than a month ago, in late July, 2009,  was traveling from Dublin, Ireland to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Peace Laureate Jody Williams to participate in peace events there. As she arrived at Dulles airport near Washington, DC, from Ireland on July 30, 2009, she passed through the regular immigration line, but then was detained in a special processing area over two hours causing her to miss her connecting flight to Albuquerque.

This is the second time Maguire has been detained by US Immigration in the past three months. On May 14, 2009, she was detained at the Houston, Texas, International Airport as she was returning from a 3 day conference in Guatemala, hosted by four Nobel Peace Women Laureates. During the detention in Houston, immigration officers questioned her about her visit in April, 2007, to the Palestinian village of Bil’in where she was injured by a rubber-coated bullet shot by Israeli military forces during a protest at the fence built by the Israelis in the village.

In Houston, Maguire asked the Immigration officials what she could do to prevent future detention and was told to get a 10-year visa to the United States.

She immediately applied and obtained a 10-year visa in early July from U.S. Consul in Belfast, Ireland. She presented that visa to the Dulles Airport Immigration official. Maguire had had an indefinite visa to the U.S. in a previous passport and had never had any problems traveling to or through the United States.

Three months later, when she told the U.S. immigration officer at Dulles airport that she was a Nobel Peace Laureate and showed him the documents concerning the Peace Laureate meeting she was attending in New Mexico, the immigration officer sarcastically said that detention “is going to happen every time you enter the United States,” and “you should get used to it.”

Maguire has been publicly outspoken and critical about Israeli treatment of Palestinians and has a long history of non-violent acts of civil disobedience against war and against nuclear weapons.

Not only was Maguire hit in 2007 by an Israeli military rubber-coated bullet and tear-gassed while participating in a protest against the construction of the Israeli fence dividing the Palestinian village of Bil’in, on June 30, 2009, but also the boat that Maguire and 19 others were on in international waters off Gaza was boarded by Israeli military and all the passengers and crew were put in an Israeli prison for seven days. Maguire was deported from Israel on July 7, as was fellow passenger and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Earlier, in 2004, as a part of her work against nuclear weapons, she traveled to Israel to meet Mordechai Vanunu as he left prison at the end of his 18-year sentence imposed for his revealing Israel’s nuclear program.

Because of her detention by U.S. Immigration on July 30, 2009, Maguire had to stay overnight in Washington, DC, at her own expense, as United Airlines said they were not responsible for her missing her flight. The next day, she ended up on a flight to New Mexico with 3 stops before getting to Albuquerque at 4pm, missing all the day’s events.

Maguire said that the harassment by U.S. Immigration began in 2009, after the change in U.S. Presidential administrations.

I wonder if the Secretary of State might wish to have discussions with the Secretary of Director of Immigration and Citizenship about how to treat Nobel Peace Laureates, unless, because of her outspoken criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, the treatment Maguire got on July 30, 2009 was exactly what the Obama administration wants her to have.

About the Author: Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

Wright is still banned from Canada as a result of the Bush administration placing her name on the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database for arrests for misdemeanor violations resulting from peaceful, non-violent protest of Bush administration policies, including the war on Iraq and torture. She, with six other citizen activists, were detained by Israeli immigration for eight hours, following a trip to Gaza, but eventually was let in, although with restrictions on their travel in Israel.


About Mairead Corrigan

Máiread Corrigan (born 27 January 1944), also known as Máiread Corrigan-Maguire, was the co-founder, with Betty Williams, of the Community of Peace People, an organization which attempts to encourage a peaceful resolution of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The two women were co-recipients of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Corrigan was born into a Roman Catholic family in Belfast, the second child of seven. She attended a Catholic school until the age of 14, then found a job as a secretary.

Corrigan became active with the peace movement after three children of her sister, Anne Maguire, were run over and killed by a car driven by Danny Lennon, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) man who was fatally shot by British troops while trying to make a getaway. Anne Maguire later committed suicide.

Betty Williams had witnessed the event, and soon after the two co-founded Women for Peace, which later became the Community for Peace People.

By the end of the month Williams and Corrigan brought 35,000 people onto the streets of Belfast petitioning for peace between the republican and loyalist factions. She believed the most effective way to end the violence was not violence but re-education.

However, the venture ultimately petered out due to in large part to objections from Catholics that the Peace People were focusing entirely on Republican violence and ignoring Loyalist and state violence by the British security forces.

She received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Betty Williams, in 1977 (the prize for 1976) for their efforts. At the age of 32, she is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to date.

In 1981 she married Jackie Maguire, who was the widower of her late sister, Anne. She has three stepchildren and two of her own, John and Luke.

In 1990 Corrigan was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris is Latin for ‘Peace on Earth.’

She is member of the Honorary board of the International Coalition for the Decade of the culture of Peace and Nonviolence.

In 2006, Corrigan was one of the founders of The Nobel Women’s Initiative along with sister Nobel Peace Laureates Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Six women representing North America and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa decided to bring together their experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality. It is the goal of the Nobel Women’s Initiative to help strengthen work being done in support of women’s rights around the world.

She is a member of the pro-life group
Consistent Life Ethic, which is against abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia.

In 2004 she went to Israel and welcomed Mordechai Vanunu upon his release from prison, where he had served an 18-year prison sentence for disclosing Israel’s nuclear secrets.

On 20 April 2007, while participating in a protest against the construction of Israel’s security fence outside the Arab setllement of Bil’in, the Israeli forces dispersed the protesters and Corrigan was hit by a rubber-coated bullet. Corrigan was also teargassed, and received medical treatment at an Israeli hospital.

On 30 June 2009, Corrigan was taken into custody by the Israeli military along with twenty others, including former U.S. Congress member Cynthia McKinney. She was on board a small ferry carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip when Israel intercepted the vessel in the coastal waters of Gaza, allegedly controlled by Israel. From an Israeli prison, she gave a lengthy interview with Democracy Now! using her cell phone,[7] and was deported on 7 July 2009 to Dublin.

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