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Mairead Maguire Cancels World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates Appearance over US State Department Participation

Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire has canceled a trip to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates because she objects to US State Department participation in the event.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, was scheduled to take part in the Chicago summit but suddenly withdrew upon learning of the US government’s involvement in the event.

Maguire wrote a letter to summit officials in which she explained that participating in an event linked to the US government would compromise her peacemaking work in the Middle East and elsewhere. She specifically cited a videotaped address in which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded the State Department’s role as an “active partner” in the summit.

“I have now decided, with some sadness, not to be associated in the partnership as I do not agree with many of the policies of the US State Department,” Maguire said. “Indeed I have, as a Nobel Peace laureate … often called for disbandment of NATO, end of militarism and war, and for disarmament and demilitarization.”

Maguire is a longtime outspoken critic of US policies and actions. She slammed the UN sanctions against Iraq pushed by Washington after the 1991 Gulf War, calling them “unjust and inhuman.”

“I have seen children dying with their mothers next to them and not being able to do anything,” she lamented in 1999.

Maguire  campaigned against the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which she said was  an “ongoing and shameful slaughter.” She maintains that George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair “should be made accountable for illegally taking the world to war and for war crimes against humanity.”

She has also been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama. After he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, she expressed her profound disappointment:

 “They say this is for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples, and yet he continues the policy of militarism and occupation of Afghanistan, instead of dialogue and negotiations with all the parties to the conflict. […] Giving this award to the leader of the most militarized country in the world, which has taken the human family against its will to war, will rightly be seen by many people around the world as a reward for his country’s aggression and domination.”

Always the activist, Maguire has twice been arrested in the United States for taking part in actions against US wars of imperial aggression. She has also been detained by US officials and forced to miss connecting flights on multiple occasions, as well as forced to admit she was a criminal.

Maguire is also a fierce critic of Israeli ethnic cleansing, apartheid and illegal occupation in Palestine. She was arrested on a ship in international waters while attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza in July 2009. Maguire was brought to Israel and imprisoned for a week before being deported. “There will be peace in this country,” she predicted, “but only when Israel ends apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

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