To the Editors:
On August 6, 1972, the 27th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by our country, we the undersigned Federal prisoners of the Federal Correctional Institution at Danbury, Connecticut, will begin a water fast to the death to protest American atrocities in Indochina—our electronic battlefield, our mining of Indochinese ports and rivers, our bombing of civilian dikes and dams. We mean this fast as a better form of communication to the people we address, and as a symbol of love for them and for the Vietnamese people.
We fast in unity with our brothers and sisters in New York City, and we acknowledge that the sufferings we undertake are a feeble gesture alongside the sufferings of the Vietnamese people.
We will end this fast when it becomes clear that the American people, the peace movement, and our servicemen have taken mature and responsible action to end genocide in Vietnam. Literally, we place our lives in the hands of our countrymen.
We do not set our lives against President Nixon, nor implore him to stop his murderous policies in Indochina. We do not make requests nor issue ultimatums. That would be a waste. President Nixon would sacrifice our lives as readily as Vietnamese or Cambodian or Laotian lives. He has killed constantly as President; he is killing now to remain President. We will not, by fasting, accord him a dignity and sensitivity that he does not possess.
No, we would rather appeal to the American people, as the Vietnamese have done, distinguishing them from a ruthless and illegitimate government. We exhort our countrymen to responsible, non-violent opposition to a war which has involved their country for over twenty years, a war which destroys us morally, even as we destroy the Indochinese physically.
We appeal to the peace movement to intensify dedication, risk, and resistence. Nixon’s barbarisms are possible mostly because resistence is confused, sporadic, weak. The price of passivity now is a staggering price of blood in Southeast Asia.
We appeal to American servicemen in Indochina—those who man the computers, who load the bombs, who fly the bombers, who fire the shells. “Doing your job” is no excuse for doing what you are doing. Reflect, refuse, resist! This slaughter must stop!
Wars—as everyone knows—are easier to start than to stop. How does one halt death machinery, given momentum by millions of dead and crippled people, by the ruin of a civilization, by unimaginable injustice, cruelty, sorrow, and misery? We have invested these horrors in Indochina. Now we must find the moral energy to halt them, to remedy and heal them.
Let Americans who have terrorized humanity for twenty-five years now lead humanity in peace!
Alfred A. Howell
Glenn R. Pontier
Ronald Lee Riley
Andrew Sawyer, Jr.
Robert La Roche
August 31, 1972