83-year-old Sister Megan Rice awaits the sentence that will decide whether she will spend the rest of her life in prison for denouncing the use and production of nuclear weapons.

From left to right Michael Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed stand holding a banner entitled Transform Now Plow Shares

Sister Megan Rice with fellow activists Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed featuring WILPF’s RCW logo. Taken from transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com

Protesting Through the Night

On 28 July 2012, Sister Megan Rice and two other anti-war activists broke into the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee, to peacefully protest against the existence of nuclear arms.

They managed to trespass security fences and spray paint human rights slogans on a building containing large quantities of uranium. They also smeared human blood on the walls as a symbol of the deaths that nuclear weapons have caused. The three activists remained inside the facility for more than an hour before they were arrested.

Convictions of Sabotage

The protestors are accused of damaging federal property and of sabotaging the nation’s “defence system,” a felony punishable with up to 30 years in prison and which is rarely attributed to civilians. Now Rice awaits the federal judge’s decision today.

“Weapons are False Gods”

Rice argues that nuclear weapons are “false gods”. Her goal with the protest was to denounce the use and production of nuclear arms, which are unlawful: the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the US is party to, commits governments to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” Nevertheless, the US government invests enormous sums in maintaining and modernizing its nuclear arsenal and has not engaged in negotiations for their elimination.

In her protest, Sister Megan used the Reaching Critical Will logo to symbolize her belief that weapons can be overcome by peace. She is a supporter of WILPF’s disarmament programme and has even used RCW materials in her defence in court. Ray Acheson, director of RCW, and Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of WILPF, have both sent letters to the judge presiding over the three protestors’ case to advocate for leniency in sentencing.