"I refuse to accept the cynical notion
that nation after nation must spiral down
a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth
and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Why we choose Nonviolence
In the past, activists at Temelin have committed to nonviolence during the blockade by signing the nonviolence guidelines. We believe that refusing to participate in any violence is the basis of open civil disobedience, which is the primary strategy at the blockade. This tradition will be followed during the 1997 blockade and all participants of the camp and blockade will be requested to sign the non-violence guidelines (NVG).
There have been numerous debates about the signature rule, which is unusual in the West and can be debated from several positions, but organizers from Hnuti DUHA have decided to keep this rule in 1997. For your understanding, we have decided to give you a few of our reasons for this choice in strategy.
In Czech culture, direct actions are seen as much more controversial than in the West. Such actions, even symbolic ones, are being reported as militant, extreme or forms of terrorism. While we do not expect that obligatory NVG will change the attitudes of the majority, the guidelines have always proved favorable with journalists and the local people who oppose Temelin but are afraid of blockades. Last but not least, the Nonviolence Guidelines have been appreciated by many "personalities" whose support we are constantly trying to achieve.
Protection Against Violent Individuals
In the event of violence at the action, the media will certainly show it to the rest of the country - finally proving what they have been saying for years (that we‘re terrorists). We believe that we can soften the impact of any media response to violence by pointing to the signature of the guidelines. We are prepared to publicly say that we were deceived by that person (in case s/he signed) or that s/he does not belong to our action, if it is someone who did not sign the NVG. Such a public statement would be substantially stronger under obligatory signatures than if we just allowed anyone to participate after undergoing NV Trainings.
Although there are no official organizers, the blockade is closely linked to the Hnuti DUHA camp and its organizers. In case of violence and subsequent police investigation, both the camp and the blockade organizers will likely be seriously punished as accessories - which generally means the organizers can be punished for "enabling another person to commit a crime". In short, many other people could be severely punished for one participant‘s violence. Thus, organizers demand non-violence, and require action participants to ensure this by signing. In effect, this will serve as an effective protection against potential serious legal accusations against the organizers.
Discipline and Commitment
We believe that there is a significant difference between signing and training from the perspective of individual responsibility, discipline and commitment. To us, it is the signature that confirms commitment, not attending the nonviolence training.
We are aware of the difficulties this principle creates, but we consider its benefits more important, even if it should decrease the number of internationals attending the blockade. In order to minimize troubles caused by the principle, we are still open to further debates about practical implementation of the signature gathering. At this moment, we anticipate the following problems (and potential solutions):
We understand that international participants may be afraid to sign a paper which would create solid evidence that they participated in the action. On the other hand, the signature itself cannot be used against a person in court - it just proves s/he signed the guidelines and was at the action, it does not prove that s/he commited a certain crime. No one can be punished for just being there or signing the guidelines for that matter. If someone is still afraid, then we suggest s/he not attend the action. Our approach is that these actions are openly disobedient, i.e. everyone there publicly expresses that s/he is aware of the legal implications, but still wishes to take the risk of action.
There is also an arguement that by requiring the signature, we are imposing an unacceptable situation for free individuals. We understand such a position, but we believe that group responsibility requires individuals to compromise part of their total freedom for the larger cause.
We agree that the signature of the NVG itself may have little influence over real behavior in critical situations. Therefore, preparation for Non-Violence Trainings is taking place and we strongly recommended this for all participants.
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