Carole Powell’s court sentencing statement

Statement given on 2 August 2007

Your honour, before sentencing me I would ask you to take into consideration that I have been working as a nurse for 33 years. A role that helps to heal and save lives. A role where I have seen first hand the devastation reeked on young men who have had their arms and legs blown off by bombs. I have heard them scream in the night at the total horror of it. I have seen the psycho-social and physical effects that war has bought to veterans of WW2, Vietnam and the Gulf War and the impact that has on their families.

I currently work in palliative care where I help people achieve a spiritually and physically pain free death and preserve the dignity of their humanity.

I have friends from Iraq, Sudan and South America who have lost their countries to war.

I am also a catholic Christian – a committed follower of the nonviolent Jesus, a prophet of peace. The same man who on the night of his arrest told the disciples to ‘put away your sword’. The man who said ‘Love your enemies’ and ‘What ever you do unto another you do unto me’. His example of living is an integral part of a Christian life, not an optional extra.

I would ask your honour to bear with me whilst I read a quote form an Italian journal called La Civilta Cattolica written post Persian Gulf War 1991.

War almost never ends war with true peace: it always leaves behind a remnant of hatred and a thirst for revenge, which will explode as soon as the opportunity offers its self. That is why the human story has been a series of unending wars. War initiates a spiral of hatred and violence, which is extremely difficult to stop. War is therefore useless, since it solves no problems, and makes them insoluble. [1]

Bearing that in mind and the fact that I have exhausted all the usual means available to me, writing to politicians – especially the prime minister and the Defence Ministers Robert Hill and Brendan Nelson, participating in street marches, writing letters to newspapers I decided the only way I could now make a difference was to go to the military personnel, human to human, and enter into dialogue with them and invite them into an alternative to being part of war. To use their innumerable skills in more life giving ways.

I would like to ask your honour to consider then that my action was like an ambulance with its sirens on running a red light to save lives. I went there to save lives – which I saw as a moral imperative.

[1] Quoted in John Dear, The God of Peace: Toward a Theology of Nonviolence, Orbis Books,1994