Kind Sir, it is too simple. How can there ever be peace with a system of Nation States designed and organized for endless war — war on other States, war on their own people, war on nature? How can peace arise from institutionalized structural violence that is constantly escalating to new levels of insanity through ever-expanding technology? How can a social system grounded in the science of killing ever deliver the goodness and beauty that is the art of living? How can humanity survive where there is no moral ground? ~ Jeff Knaebel, letter to National Human Rights Commission, 10 JAN, 2010
It is your moral choice. It is on you weather I be granted to live as a dignified human being dedicated to the cause of peace and brotherhood, or else to die as a hunted slave or in jail. ~ Jeff Knaebel, letter to the National Human Rights Commission, 6 DEC, 2009
19 JUN, 2009. In the evening, I destroyed my passport and renounced U.S. Citizenship in an action of Satyagraha at New Delhi, India. This action of sedition and rebellion comprised a public statement of civil disobedience against lawless and corrupt governments. My Declaration of Renunciation and Severance was posted on LewRockwell.com on 29 JUNE, 2009.
By this action — sited at the Gandhi Samadhi, Rajghat, out of reverence and respect for the Mahatma’s inspiration — I courted arrest and imprisonment in India. My calculation was to demonstrate to the world the truth of Mahatma Gandhi’s statement: "The State is a soulless machine that can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes its very existence."
The State’s Divorce from Ethics and Conscience
Also sought was to point out by direct physical action the ethical linkages that State propaganda attempts ceaselessly to obscure from our perception. The first link was clearly stated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930. Speaking in Madras, he said, "The highest moral law is, we should work unremittingly for the good of mankind." The manner of his living demonstrated what he meant by the good.
The second link is the foundation precept of all the great wisdom teachings: that our first duty is to do no harm — to do unto others as we would be done by.
The third link is the obviousness of the fact that we cannot follow these precepts of eternal wisdom so long as we vote for and pay taxes to a government which engages in criminal activities against mankind as does the United States.
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it." ~ Frdric Bastiat, The Law
[and the intrinsic compulsions of the Corporate State predict that it can do no other than plunder]
The State tries to convince us that it is exempt from the Laws of God and Nature — in other words, to the effect that IT is the God which we must obey, and not the God which speaks to us through our personal conscience. In this attempted divorce of man from conscience lies proof that the State is a non-human machine-entity, and thus truly beyond the influence of the human conscience.
Thus, we who vote and pay taxes are in fact mere slaves to the mindless, soulless, conscienceless machine whose genetic compulsion is to control and to exploit. It is our mind that is enslaved, to wit:
"The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~Stephen Biko, South African Freedom Fighter, & Derrick Jensen, End Game.
Humane India May Yet Stumble
As it happened, my calculation of arrest did not work out as planned. The deeply humane character of the Indian ethos generated an unexpected outcome. After reading my Declaration and interviewing me at the Delhi police station, the Supervising Officer, (S.O.), refused arrest. He told me, "Jail is for criminals, and you are not a criminal. You are free to go anywhere in India." I took the Delhi police at their word, and went about my work. The Rajkot police later adopted the same position as Delhi. Now, however, after more than 210 days of website and media documented Stateless Freedom, I am faced with a direct threat of imprisonment by local authorities. Upon their demand for a specific avenue of legal procedure or else be immediately imprisoned, I have, by their instruction, written to the National Human Rights Commission to request intervention so that I may be permitted Indian domicile as a Stateless person.
My hand-written to the NHRC — with minor editing for hopefully publishable quality and to delete individual names for privacy — has been transcribed below. It describes my continuing Satyagraha since 19 JUNE, 2009 and presents my current position vis–vis the authorities. This letter, of 6 December, 2009, has been followed by 7 others in which the Argument from Morality is presented to the NHRC.
To:The Honorable Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission
From:Jeff Knaebel, Stateless Person
Date:6 December 2009
Subject:Request for Grant of India Residency
Table of Contents
My Vows Versus Political Reality
Situations, Facts, and Request
The Gandhi Swaraj Padyatra
Subsequent to Sarahan Conference
No Safety in Any Other Country
I am an apostle of Mahatma Gandhi and a stateless person in my 71st year of life. My life purpose is to work for peace on earth and to help save humanity from self-destruction.
In the manner of a Shanti Sainik, (peace volunteer), as conceived and demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi, I have pledged to strive for peace and be prepared to lay down my life in the attempt.
I have lived in India continuously since 1995. I have never been affiliated with any organization except Vipassana Meditation as taught by Acharya Ven. S.N. Goenka of Igatpuri.
This letter is being handwritten by candle light in a room where temperature is about 5 deg. C. As called for by Mahatma Gandhi, I have renounced both my home and the former amenities of technology in favor of a simple chop wood—carry water lifestyle.
The writing is in haste due to the deadline imposed by local authorities. It is based upon unaided memory because none of my archives are with me. I apologize for the lack of professionalism — this is the best I can do under the circumstances, with cold and numb fingers.
As Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of your nation, so he is the Father of my inspiration to come to India to learn and to carry on his work within my own capacity. I carry his teachings in my heart. I live to carry the essential message of love through my words and deeds.
Everything I have done or will do in India is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Buddha. Only by the Light of these two great Indians and their Followers like Vinoba Bhave can humanity be saved from self-destruction.
War — especially aggressive acquisitive war as engaged by the United States — is a total failure of the human spirit. To kill another is suicide, for the other and me are One.
We can have no friend so long as we count a single man as enemy. Love is now more than a Virtue — it is a Necessity. Without love, we all perish. We must love our Earth and all her creatures as we would love ourselves.
I have vowed to strive for Satyagraha, (strong adherence to truth), and Ahimsa, (non-violence), in the sense of the Buddhist Precepts which operate on three levels.
- To abstain from violence.
- To not condone violence.
- To not support violence.
In the Christian sense this is expressed as “Do unto others as you would be done by.” All the rest is commentary.
Mahatma Gandhi taught that thought, word and deed must be congruent, for otherwise one’s life becomes a lie. He taught that we must ourselves do, and not rely upon the other fellow to act.
On this basis, my Secondary Sacred Vow is never again to ride in a motor vehicle. This is what one man can do to help save the Earth from the destruction of a petroleum-based economy. Gandhiji said that we should walk to our work on our own legs.
So far, in keeping this Vow I have walked 1,389 km in the past 111 days, crossing India from Jaipur to Sarahan and beyond. A significant portion of this walk has been on Himalaya Footpaths with back packs and tent camps.
My Vows Versus Political Reality
Ahimsa in its true sense requires not only personal abstention from violence — it also requires the Satyagrahi not to condone violence and not to support violence.
After years of research, study, practice, and writing, I concluded that the only way to be an apostle of Ahimsa at any level approaching the benchmark set by Mahatma Gandhi was to renounce my U.S. Citizenship. This act was one I could do with my own hands, as taught by the Mahatma.
By this severance of all relations with the government of this rogue nation which is the most destructive terrorist in human history did I gain the personal freedom which is pre-requisite to the clear conscience required for inner peace. No longer am I an accomplice, guilty by association and acquiescence.
To the extent that I retain any connection with the U.S. economy of tax-financed endless war, I abdicate my own moral conscience. I become an accomplice to mass murder and heinous crimes against humanity — a material accomplice to obscene and mindless wastage of life, human and other.
By renouncing my citizenship I have made a public statement that the American war machine does not act in my name, nor with my tax payments, because I am no longer an American.
Situation, Facts, Request
On the evening of 19 June 2009, by my Satyagraha conducted at the Samadhi, (monument), of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajghat, New Delhi, I renounced physically and directly my U.S. Citizenship. Passport, birth certificate and all identification documents were destroyed.
I chose this monument — and acted with great respect in my heart — because it is a symbol that all mankind can recognize: of nonviolent resistance to immoral, corrupt, and violent governments.
I read out to the assembled public and security guards my Declaration of Renunciation and Severance which is attached hereto. Its Accompanying Statement of Philosophy and Precepts is also attached.
I then took up a sitting position of Satyagraha next to the Samadhi until nightfall and closing time, when the police removed me from Rajghat and escorted me to the Darya Ganj Thana, (police station).
These actions were partially filmed by a local Delhi TV station, and thoroughly video-documented by international journalists. These videos have been shown worldwide on U Tube, and are carried on a number of international websites. By telephone to me and others on 20 June, the U.S. Embassy indicated contemporaneous knowledge of events.
Pursuant to advice from private attorneys, government officials, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, I had expectations of arrest and imprisonment. I had prepared by donating all of my assets, down to only the set of clothes I was wearing. Several of my references attached hereto can bear witness.
I had courted arrest in order to bring world attention to the insane, depraved and human species suicidal crimes of the United States government.
However, after reading my Declaration and interviewing me, the Superintending Officer of Darya Ganj Thana refused to arrest. He said, “Jail is for criminals, and you are not a criminal.” The S.O. further stated that I was free to move anywhere in India. When I protested about the difficulty of travel without I.D. papers, he said, “Don’t worry. Bharat Mata, (Mother India), will take care of you. If you encounter any trouble, dial 100 and we will help you. Now go back to your hotel.”
On 20 June 2009, I returned to the Thana along with a journalist. Again I protested that it was their duty to arrest. The inspector on duty reiterated the S.O. position and repeated that I was free to move about anywhere in India. These statements were video-recorded by the accompanying journalist and have been uploaded on U Tube.
The actions of 19 June 2009 and the video within the Thana of 20 June 2009 are attached herewith as DVD entitled “Jeff Knaebel in New Delhi 19 and 20 June 2009 — Raw Footage.” International Journalists continue to maintain contact and monitor my situation.
I took the police authorities at their word, and accepted the invitation of engineer-industrialist Sri V.K. Desai to stay at his home in Rajkot. There I responded to invitations to give public speeches as well as press interviews, some of which are attached hereto. The letter of congratulation from Sri V.K. Desai to the S.O. Darya Ganj is attached, as well as my own later letter to the S.O.
By word and deed, the police had made it very clear that an apostle of Mahatma Gandhi is free to live in India, that my actions were not an offense, that I was not a security risk, and that far from being a threat, I was here to carry on the sacred work of Mahatma Gandhi within my own limited capacity. Therefore my arrest would have been an insult to the Father of the Nation. See the DVD.
My Indian Friends have said that arrest would prove absurd as viewed through the eyes of humanitarian India. The Rajkot police have subsequently confirmed this position by telephone inquiry to Sri V.K. Desai about me, upon which they said, “No problem, just keep us advised of his activities.”
However, make no mistake — I am prepared to be arrested at any time, as will be shown in what follows.
Living and moving among the devout Gandhians of Rajkot, I became more and more inspired to give back to Bharat Mata whatever I could to express my gratitude and love.
I have long believed that the future of the human race rests with Village India. If Hind Swaraj cannot be made a reality in India, and Universal Swaraj a world reality, I believe we face extinction through planetary destruction. For non-Indian readers, Swaraj translates to self-governing village republics features consensus decision-making by all adults of the village, male and female.
As Sri R.S. Negi told me after the Sarahan Conference (Proclamation attached), “If we cannot elevate our consciousness and stop the ecological and cultural destruction, we are doomed.”
The Gandhi Swaraj Padyatra, (Padyatra means journey on foot)
Seeing that 2009 is the centenary anniversary of Hind Swaraj, (Gandhiji’s revolutionary book of 1909), being celebrated throughout India, my friends and I conceived the Gandhi Swaraj Padyatra as a means through which I could give of myself and my experience something useful to the villagers.
The statement of Darya Ganj S.O. that “Bharat Mata will take care of you” turned out to be prophetic. The respect, support, generosity, hospitality and compassion that poured forth during our village walk across India was simply overwhelming.
The Padyatra covered 1,108 km from Jaipur to Sarahan, where an International Conference on World Village Swaraj was held. Its Proclamation and partial proceedings are attached.
We were directly supported and hosted by more than 600 people. Our team spoke to an estimated 20,000 people, ranging from groups of Village Elders to assemblies of more than 3,000 University Students. We gave more than 150 public addresses as well as a number of press conferences. We were filmed for local TV.
Our hosts included householders, Sarpanch, (presiding officer of village council), VIP industrialists, ex-Ministers and MLAs, retired military officers and University Chancellors, as well as Khadi Ashrams, (Gandhian cottage industry campus), and schools.
There was not one instance of violence. Expressions of gratitude and outpourings of goodwill were almost universal. Occasionally there were long queues of students seeking autographs on the copies of Hind Swarj which we distributed.
Our Core Message was to revere and respect the culture and values of India as expounded by Mahatma Gandhi, and to turn away from the wanton waste and destructiveness of the Western Corporate State model.
We expressed the view that India must become the Light of the World if our planet’s life support is to be saved from total destruction. The India dreamt by Mahatma Gandhi is the last best chance to save humanity from self-annihilation.
We urged students to turn off the TV, and imbibe the great teachings of Dhyan, (meditation), and Yog, (unity), by which India has taught mankind for millennial the techniques of mental discipline and self-restraint. We recommended the Anuvrat Movement of the Jains, (see Wikipedia). We pointed out that survival of the human species depends upon elevating our level of consciousness toward the great values of the Buddha, the Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and the great Saints of India.
Jeff described from his experience as a US Navy officer, government planner, and business executive how the institutional corporate structure of Western civilization is a non-human machine that has no conscience, cannot feel pain, cannot pray or meditate, cannot feel empathy, and cannot love. The corporation exists and is legally chartered only to make money profit. This generates its compulsion to exploit both nature and people.
An abstract mortal legal construct, the corporation has neither soul nor body, so it does as it pleases. You can neither reason nor negotiate with it because it is a non-human machine, incapable of human empathy. Most, of not all, governments of the world are now effectively corporate entities. Political elections amount only to changing the driver of a pre-destination train. Against the corporate state, a person’s right to life does not count.
I describe how a young man, once initiated into the life of a corporate employee, is compelled to surrender his moral conscience to the corporate interest in furtherance of his own self-interest and professional advancement. He becomes a member of the company tribe. Job security and company loyalty trump personal conscience.
I asked young people, who are the future of humanity, "What is civilization? Is it space satellites? Is it the nuclear bomb? What is the mythical ethos of Western civilization? Was it encapsulated at Hiroshima? Is it currently promulgated by the horrible birth defects factored into the human genome by depleted uranium?"
I quoted a child survivor of Hiroshima, now a Buddhist monk in saying, "Civilization is not electricity. It is not the atomic bomb. Civilization is not killing people."
I asked if peace could ever be realized through a system of massively centralized institutions of the Money Power — non-human institutions whose framework is designed to support endlessly escalating structural violence. How can peace arise through geo-political institutions that are organized for war — war on each other, war on nature, war on the poor who must watch helplessly the land and water base of their lives being destroyed by the corporate machine of mindless greed as it smashes down mountains, shreds forests, and poisons air and water, chewing through Village India like a cloud of locusts? How are 500 million rural Indians going to live when the Ganges drainage has been destroyed by the 287 hydroelectric projects now under construction? Will they eat money and drink petrol?
I pointed out that the most powerful weapon of the organized propaganda of this out-of-control non-human machine is our own mind that we have surrendered to the TV, corporate media, and State-manufactured consent. Are we not insane to support this depraved automaton with our votes and taxes? I asked students, "Are your studies training you to become a corporate warrior, or a messenger of brotherhood? With which is the soul of India?"
A print-out of the Gandhi Swaraj Padyatra Website is attached. The entire site can be viewed at www.gandhipadyatra.com . Please review the website itself if you wish to gain insight into this writer’s words and deeds.
Additional and more primary of my writings can be viewed at the following sites:
Subsequent To Sarahan Conference
Upon conclusion of the Conference on 5 Nov 2009, we walked for eleven days to convey my wish to study Ahimsa with my Buddhist Acharya, (teacher). He graciously accepted me until February, 2010.
Immediately, I then walked for two days back to the District Office and presented myself and my declaration to the District Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police on 19 Nov 2009. Four witnesses, including a journalist, were with me in front of the officials. At this point, I had walked 1,296 km from Jaipur.
The DC and SP were courteous and kind, but not sympathetic. As I had done at Darya Ganj in New Delhi, I told the SP that I was ready to be arrested on the spot, and to do with me as he willed. He declined arrest, but said that he would have to act if any government agency required.
On 26 November, 2009, my host delivered written notice to the SP that I was a temporary guest in his house. He attached a packet of information that included my Declaration and the Padyatra information attached hereto.
On 4 December, 2009 the Station House Officer along with three other police officers interviewed me at my temporary residence. In an earlier visit I had provided the local Chief with the complete data package of my situation.
I stated to the SHO that I was prepared to be arrested as I sat before him — it would further my mission of exposing the Truth. He very kindly deferred arrest, sternly demanding instead that I seek permission from the National Human Rights Commission to remain in India as a Stateless Person.
He further stated that if NHRC permission is denied, he will immediately imprison me.
My Request To The Commission
I am prepared to face arrest and imprisonment, or to lay down my life for the cause of freedom and peace, for peace is not possible without freedom.
I aspire to the standard set by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in the methods of Ahimsa and Satyagraha.
My life work is a walking meditation prayer for peace. My life is not about providing tax finance for the United State Government to blow up women and children in its economy of blood for oil.
I sold everything at great loss, left family and friends and the land of my birth, and came to India in order not to be on the one hand a material accomplice to murder, or on the other hand a slave — a mere automaton of a human being. I seek to be a refugee from the endless wars of the United States Government.
The deciding moment of expatriation is described under the heading Historical Background and Dhamma Service.
No Safety In Any Other Country
My life and liberty are at risk in any other country because all will deem me as an illegal human being who must be persecuted under their law. I would be most vulnerable to persecution in the U.S. for my acts of rebellion and sedition if forceably remanded to that country, of which I am not a citizen.
I have not a single document that portrays my identity. I can live only by the compassionate grace and generosity of humane India. See the attached letter from Sri V.K. Desai to the Darya Ganj S.O.
I deem it my right as a simple human being to be able to live as do so many tribals of India and elsewhere — without the documentation of even a birth certificate.
I deem it a core human right not to be invalidated and reduced to the condition of a dead piece of State property, branded and tracked like a farm animal.
Only a culture of some kind of subhuman consciousness brands and tracks its members and takes by force their earnings to be used to make bombs and desecrate our earth. Where blind rule supersedes reason and love, humanity is nullified by machine, and no man is safe.
My request to the humane traditions of India is for you to intervene with the Ministries of Home and External Affairs that I may be granted the right to live in India as a Stateless Person — a Refugee if you will.
It is your moral choice. It is on you whether I be granted to live as a dignified human being dedicated to the cause of peace and brotherhood, or else to die as a hunted slave or in jail, because I don’t have a piece of paper.
If my brother humans wish to treat this man of peace as a threat who must be jailed, then so be it. I wonder what the Bodhisattvas and the Deities would say about this level of human consciousness.
You need not be concerned that I may become a burden on Indian society. I am self-supporting. Far from burden, I have proactively supported Indian society since my first visit in 1989. I have attempted to follow Gandhiji’s precept of a Constructive Program as essential to Satyagraha. My activities in this regard are presented in the Bio Data attachment.
By whose ethical standards will I be judged? The blind laws of institutionalized structural violence on a scale so vast that can only show humanity as depraved and pathologically insane? Or, as chosen by Socrates, Jesus Christ, and Mahatma Gandhi, the Law of God as heard by the human conscience — the small still voice within?
The Law of God is Love and not war. Every human being has the right to strive for Self-Realization — for achieving the deathless. No man can realize Ultimate Reality while financing the murder of his brothers.
Why should any human being have to beg from others his permission to exist?
Historical Background, Deciding Moment and Dhamma Service
As can be seen in the attached CV, as I studied more and more of Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Buddha, my consciousness slowly changed to the point I could no longer remain as manager of the several enterprises that I had successfully created and operated. I disengaged from business and devoted my life to humanitarian service through Hospice patient care and the defense of human rights of Native Americans — the Indian equivalent approximately of Adivasis — tribal peoples.
The deciding moment of my expatriation came when I was flying missions in Mexico for Lighthawk — the Wings of Conservation. An Elder of the Tarahumara Tribe spoke to an international conference about the destruction of tribal forest lands envisioned for a World Bank and American financed pulp paper mill.
Holding aloft in his left hand a trashy paper magazine, he addressed this conference of suited industrialists, financiers and government officials at the University of Chihuahua. He said, “You people are cutting our trees in order to make this — pointing to the magazine. The forest is the life of my people. When you have cut the last of our trees, we will die, and you people will read this.” My heart trembled with this Truth.
I have been telling Village India — We Are All Tarahumara Now.
That same day in Chihuahua City the TV was carrying images of proud American bombs raining death from the sky upon Iraqi women and children and kittens and chickens and goats.
These two juxtaposed events pierced my heart. These were American operations. Both brought death to others. I was an American citizen. My tax money built the bombs and missiles and aircraft carriers. My flying an expensive aircraft — even if in resistance — made me a part of the blood for oil economy.
It was all too clear now: I was living a lie. My government — with my earnings — was destroying our earth and all her living creatures.
That very day I made my decision. I would sell out and move to India. I would seek wisdom and peace in the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Buddha. I would seek the India of Mahatma Gandhi’s dreams — the India that is repository of the ancient Dharma of all mankind.
Several years were required to unload my businesses — even at great loss. I moved permanently to India in 1995.
My apologies that this is not more professional in appearance. It is my best effort by candle light with numb-cold fingers and limited time.
Jeff Knaebel [send him mail] is an expatriate American domiciled in India since 1995. He formerly practiced as a registered professional engineer, having been trained at Cornell Univ. and the Colorado School of Mines. Visit his website.