(April 27, 2007) — On Saturday, May 19, a delegation from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) will participate in a conference at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City on issues related to the use of depleted uranium weapons. A CPT campaign that includes Church of the Brethren members has begun to work at ending the use of depleted uranium weapons by the US military.
Those organizing the campaign include Cliff Kindy, a Church of the Brethren member and longtime CPT worker. The campaign expresses concern that depleted uranium is causing serious birth defects and cancer in civilian and military populations in the war zones of Iraq. Campaigners emphasize that the United Nations has condemned depleted uranium weapons, and the European Union has banned the use of depleted uranium munitions.
In September 2006, a small group from the “Stop DU Campaign” held a six-day swing through seven states including stops at Beaver Run Church of the Brethren near Burlington, W.Va., and Jackson Park Church of the Brethren in Jonesborough, Tenn. In November, a 10-day CPT delegation held prayer vigils and meetings with community groups and churches in the areas of the Aerojet Ordnance plant in Jonesborough, Tenn., and the Alliant Tech plant in Rocket Center, W.Va. Since then, CPT has announced two more delegations to investigate and challenge the use and manufacture of depleted uranium munitions, on March 16-25 and May 18-27 this year.
The May 19 conference begins at 9 a.m. in Room 102 in Rogers Stout Hall at East Tennessee State University. Presenters are Doug Rokke, who has been a Pentagon expert on depleted uranium; Cathy Garger, who has written on the issues of depleted uranium munitions; and Mohammad Daud Miraki, author of “Afghanistan After Democracy.” Participants will meet in small groups to grapple with next steps in the nonviolent campaign to stop the production of depleted uranium weapons.
Registration for the conference is free, and CPT is encouraging attendance. A press release stated that the CPT delegation “would welcome the participation of military personnel, especially those who have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, to help delegates strategize next steps.”
Also a “Camp DU”–a temporary tent camp–is being planned for a site across the road from the Aerojet Ordnance plant, which the CPT release said is “one of the primary manufacturers of depleted uranium penetrator cores for the 120 mm Abrams tank shells.”
To join the delegation, go to cpt.org and check links to delegations and registrations. For more about the conference visit http://www.stop-du.org/ or contact Cliff Kindy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Originally a violence-reduction initiative of the historic peace churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and Quaker), CPT now enjoys support and membership from a wide range of Christian denominations.