Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli

Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli

Megan Rice’s story is one of courage, hope and determination, despite being in the most dire of situations.

Last year, she was commended for her bravery after being jailed for opposing nuclear weapons in America.

Ms Rice is an 84 year old Catholic nun who is currently being incarcerated in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, while two other activists were also jailed.

She was convicted after she managed to enter the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oakridge, Tennessee.

However on July 28th 2012, she broke through a series of high-security fences surrounding the plant and reached a uranium storage bunker at the center of the complex. She was accompanied by 57 year old Greg Boertje-Obed and 63 year old Michael Walli.

Once inside the complex, the trio daubed the walls of the bunker with biblical references like “the fruit of justice is peace,” and scattered small vials of human blood across the ground.

They also hung up banners, strung up crime-scene tape and hammered off a small chunk of the fortress-like storage facility.

They then sat down for a picnic.

When the security guards arrived, they offered them some bread, along with a candle, a bible and a bunch of white roses.

Fast forward a year, and they were sentenced to prison terms of between 3 and 5 years and fined £53,000 for damage done to the plant.

The amount they were fined was far more than the estimates given during their trial. Rice said that her stated aim was to draw attention to the lax security systems surrounding the plants and to highlight the illegal and immoral use of nuclear weapons by the US government.

In a letter to her supporters, Rice wrote: “We were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear weapons have already caused. […] and we realize that all life on earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental or technical error.

“Our action exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public. The production, refurbishment, threat or use of these weapons of mass destruction violates the fundamental rules and principles by which we all try to live amicably as human beings.”

The activists’ legal team had received hundreds of letters of support with a 14,000-signature petition pleading for leniency in the case. One of her supporters was the religious order she belonged to, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, which asked for a reduced or suspended sentence given “her age, her health and her ministry”.

However, the US government declined to offer leniency. They argued that the trio did not accept that they had committed crimes and showed no ‘remorse’. The government also took exception to the fact that, during the trial, the trio proceeded to argue against the laws they had broken.

In addition, the Department of Defense claimed that because the trio had previously been involved in non-violent protests, this counted against them.

During her time in prison, Rice has written extensively about the need to recognise our interconnectedness, the moral courage, and the way children are brought up in this society.

She also wrote about the brutality and injustice witnessed within the prison systems.

Rice told of how prisoners were routinely denied life-saving medication, and other things they needed such as eye glasses. She also revealed how prison officials would routinely steal things from the inmates and she wrote extensively about the absence of adequate rehabilitation and therapy programs for vulnerable prisoners.

Rice herself fell foul of prison officials and received three charges for refusing to strip-search. She was also charged for the possession of a paper clip, which was used to hold her legal papers together.

Some prisoners were even penalised for reserving too much of the medication that they were allowed, in order to help them sleep better at night.

However, none of this has deterred Rice and she has refused to allow it to get her down.

She told of how her spiritual belief system has helped to keep her strong and spoke of how she would like to see a world with more loving personal relationships and one whereby a foreign policy was no longer based on fear and domination.

In a letter written to activist and writer Michael Edwards, published on the Transformaton website, Rice stated: “I learned that people in government can and do act unjustly, and that resistors are often unjustly tried and persecuted for their faithfulness to their consciences…So it would be no surprise if acting to end imperialism causes one to end up in prisons of some sort…I am assured that in the long run, truth will be served despite appearances.”

In her letters, she explained how she believes that every act of resistance becomes an act of liberation from the injustice and oppression of the current status quo.

Rice said: “To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor you could give me”.

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