Thursday, August 6, 2009

Two Arrested in Prayer at Virtual Border Tower Under Construction in Arizona

Contact: John Heid, Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa - 520-323-8697

Two men were arrested this morning during a prayer vigil at a virtual fencecommunication tower under construction west of Arivaca, in southern Arizona. John Heid, 54, a Quaker with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Fr. Jerome Zawada, 72, a Franciscan priest, had gone to pray at the site out of deep concern for the deaths of migrants resulting from border walls and virtual fences. Shortly after 11 a.m., a Pima County Sheriff's deputy called to the scene arrested both men for trespass. The pair were taken into custody and are being transported to the Pima County Adult Detention Center in Tucson for processing.

Fr. Zawada stated today, "For the past 26 years I've come to know and love many of ourmigrant families who have taught me something of the heart of God. As a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar I feel called to accompany these suffering travelers and work with others who believe in this journey of compassion."

John Heid said, "The virtual fence is as lethal as a bomb. It is billed by proponents as more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional fence or wall. It is touted as environmentally friendly, allowing animals to roam freely. Yet it remains undeniably lethal to human beings by forcing people further into remote desert terrain on their journey north. I decry this loss of life. This loss of civility. This loss of sensibility. Construction must be halted. Could not the $100 million being spent on these towers be put to humanitarian use? Humane means of resolving issues such as economic disparity and subsequent migration must be undertaken. Ultimately our own survival alongside that of our southern neighbors depends on cooperation."

The pair released the following statement:

"On this, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, we call for anend to militarization in all its guises. An end to bombs, nuclear and conventional. An end to the use of Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). An end to walls, fences and their virtual counterparts that divide us and promote fear of each other. An end to war without end.

"This morning we vigil at the gates of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, home of a Predator UAV unit which now flies missions around the clock in Iraq and Afghanistan armed with Hellfire missiles which have killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. We demand an end to the unilateral slaughter.

"This afternoon we vigil at a communication tower, "Tucson-1" (virtual fence) construction sight. Fences and walls, solid and virtual, have funneled people in migration deeper into the harsh, dangerous terrain of the Sonoran desert, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths since 1994.

"These three - bombs, drones and fences/walls - are lethal weapons directed specificallyat noncombatants. Cities like Hiroshima, villages in Iraq and Afghanistan and theU.S.-Mexico borderland have been deliberately targeted and violated. These are crimes against humanity. A betrayal of civility. In spiritual terms, a sin.

"Today we pray without ceasing for a world without weapons and fences. We pray for peace, for justice, for unity which makes walls and war obsolete."

For more information about Christian Peacemaker Teams, visit

1 comment:

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