Embassy Rally Brings 9 Arrests

Washington Gathering Marks Vanunu's 14th Year in Prison

Defying police orders to stay away, five women and four men walked to the fence of the Israeli Embassy in Washington and were hauled off in handcuffs on September 28 in an encounter marking the 14th anniversary of the kidnapping and imprisonment of Mordechai Vanunu, the whistle-blower who first brought Israelís nuclear weapons arsenal to public light.

Arrested and jailed overnight on misdemeanor charges of ďincommodingĒ were Kathy Boylan, Washington, DC; Cynthia Banas, Vernon, NY; Felice Cohen-Joppa, Tucson, AZ; Gail Vaughn, Ferryville, WI; Sandra Kay Warren, Iola, KS; Sam Day, Madison, WI; Bill Frankel-Streit, Goochland, VA; Art Laffin, Hartford,CT, and Barry Roth, Brookline, MA. Trial was set for January 18.

Scores watched from across the street as the nine demonstrators approached the embassy to ask Israeli authorities to release Vanunu and cease the clandestine production of nuclear weapons. The arrests followed their refusal to leave embassy property.

The arrests climaxed a three-day Washington gathering that brought scores of Vanunu supporters from across the country and abroad to a conference, a dawn-to-dusk vigil, a Capitol Hill lobbying effort, and an embassy rally focusing on the immediate and unconditional release of Vanunu, who is serving an 18-year term, and the abolition of nuclear weapons in Israel and the United States as a step toward a nuclear-free world.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers 30 years ago at the risk of lengthy imprisonment, told the banquet audience that Vanunuís continuing act as a nuclear truth-teller is a unique and priceless contribution to exposing the madness of nuclear war doctrines.

Speaker after speaker called for continuing support for Vanunu in the light of harsher treatment of the prisoner by the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak. (Days later, the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence brought a further deterioration of the regional stability that would seem to be essential for Vanunuís early release.)

Nicholas and Mary Eoloff of St. Paul, Minnesota, Vanunuís adoptive parents, whose visits to Ashkelon Prison keep others in touch with their sonís hard and lonely life, called for floods of letters to comfort Mordechai and put pressure on officials in Israel and the United States.

Hope Liebersohn, an activist in the British campaign to free Vanunu, told of the weekly embassy gatherings in London that are a focus of Vanunu support work in the United Kingdom. Fred Heffermehl, coordinator of the Norwegian campaign, spoke of his governmentís high-level contacts with Israel on Vanunuís release. Ian Cameron of Toronto, coordinator of the Vanunu Trust of Canada, told of fund-raising efforts to support the Canadian campaign and also provide for the prisoner after his release.

The Washington gathering, sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu, also heard from leaders of regional campaigns in the San Francisco Bay area (Jeanie Shaterian), which sponsors vigils and meetings, and Washington DC (Art Laffin and Kathy Boylan), which organizes a monthly vigil at the Israeli embassy.