by Keith Locke
Today, people around the globe will be putting the slogan ‘Freedom for Vanunu now’ on their Facebook page in response to a call from Israeli anti-nuclear campaigner Mordechai Vanunu.
September 30 is the 24th anniversary of the Rome kidnapping in Vanunu for exposing the existence of an Israeli nuclear weapons programme.
Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including 11 years in solitary confinement. Since his release in 2004 he has been arrested several times for violating restrictions on his speech and movement. For example, he is forbidden from speaking to foreign journalists.
In December last year he was arrested for meeting his Norwegian girlfriend Kristin Joachimsen, a biblical scholar. He ended up with another jail term, this time for three months, which he finished on 8 August.
Five years ago I asked the then Labour government if they would grant Vanunu New Zealand citizenship, which can be done in exceptional circumstances under our Citizenship Act. The exceptional circumstance was that it would make it easier for this brave anti-nuclear campaigner to leave Israel, which he was being prevented from doing – and still is. Vanunu told me he was really keen on the idea. Unfortunately our government dismissed the idea as “empty political gesture” – although I suspect the real reason was that it didn’t want to offend Israel.
One day, if we keep up the pressure on Israel, this hero of the peace movement will truly be free.
For more information on Mordechai Vanunu please see: