Rise Up to End War
Bryan Law updates us from Pine Gap - the Empire Strikes Back
by Bryan Law
In May and June 2007 the Gandhian/activist wing of the Australian Peace Movement is going to produce two nonviolent action programs which promote and develop a grass-roots resistance to war. One action is in the Northern Territory, and one in Queensland.
On May 29 2007 I and three other Christian Peace Activists (Donna Mulhearn, Jim Dowling, and Adele Goldie) begin our trial before Justice Thomas of the Supreme Court in Alice Springs for our Citizens' Inspection of the U.S. controlled Pine Gap Terror base on 9 December 2005. We face up to 7 years imprisonment.
The trial is expected to last two weeks, and outside the Court, at Pine Gap itself, there'll be several actions taken to further illuminate the darkness and interfere with war.
A convergence at the front gate of the base is set down for 2 June 2007. A pictorial essay on our last convergence is here.
On June 18 2007 the second national Peace Convergence begins at Rockhampton/ Shoalwater Bay. Hundreds of activists will gather to oppose and interfere with Operation Talisman Sabre - the huge joint invasion exercise involving 14,000 U.S. troops and 12,000 Australian troops.
Small autonomous affinity groups, as demonstrated at Pine Gap, will feature in the name of peace at Shoalwater Bay. So will mass actions on 23/24 June 2007
Both these actions address the way in which Australia slavishly serves the U.S. military interest through joint operations and exercises. Both call upon citizens to rise up in a joyful and spirited way against militarism and the forces of war. Both represent and prefigure the re-emergence of a grass-roots resistance to war in Australia.
Massive arms buildup
In 2007 Australia is undergoing a massive military buildup - ALL of which is designed to complement U.S. forces and work under U.S. command, fighting wars in third countries. The land warfare component of Talisman Sabre involves a city built around a walled square. Mecca maybe?
We've also made significant accommodation to U.S. needs with bombing ranges, exercise areas, and rest & recreation for U.S. troops.
Since 2002 and the adoption of "the Bush Doctrine", U.S. military policy has been to attack any country in which a security "threat" "might" be forming. Iraq was the first war to arise out of the Bush Doctrine. There are others waiting in the wings (Iran, Syria, North Korea). U.S. military spending is way out of control.
The new US/Aus satellite base on Navy land outside Geraldton, West Australia, will facilitate capacities such as the "Warfighter Information Network Tactical (WIN-T)" which will enable units in the field to access a real-time picture of battle fields and "enemy" units from satellite transmissions. This high-tech warfare is, like Pine Gap, a one way ticket to automatic complicity in any act of aggressive war launched by the USA anywhere in the world - whether we like it or not. (I don't like it)!
It's clear the corrupt lying Howard government is not going to end, or even limit Australian collusion in U.S. warmongering. It's clear the corrupt lying Labor opposition will reduce participation in Iraq in a symbolic way, but will not limit the operation of the U.S. "alliance" and will continue to meet the U.S. demand for bases, and for routine participation in future wars.
What to do?
In our Pine Gap trial, the Commonwealth is working hard to prevent us from discovering documents, or mentioning anything related to the function of the Pine Gap Terrorist Base. They challenge and oppose our every attempt to discover documents and question key witnesses about the policies or operations of Pine Gap as a "defence" base.
The prosecution's aim is to argue that what the terror base does is irrelevant, and all that matters is our physical presence on a specific piece of land at a particular time established by the Commonwealth Police present. Nothing else has relevance.
On 21 March, at a pre-trial hearing on our application for discovery of Defence Department documents, there were six lawyers, including a QC and more junior Counsel) for the prosecution (the Crown) and the government (the Commonwealth). We are up against it.
We need to "prove" that our beliefs about what Pine Gap does are "reasonable".
Their line is that we defendants don't really "know" anything about Pine Gap - because it's secret. The Commonwealth asserts that we can't even use Parliamentary reports to show our sources of knowledge (Parliamentary Reports, they say, are privileged). Thus everything we say is mere "rumour", and can't be used in evidence.
Our immediate and major goal on 29 May is to get information before the jury, and before the various publics) that sets out the nature and function of Pine Gap as an instrument of illegal aggressive war. Our task is to expose truth and let people make their own decisions.
As Christians we believe in miracles and God's grace. We'll need them.
The grass-roots resistance
Nevertheless our action is proving effective so far in engaging public attention and creating resistance to Pine Gap. The heavy legal penalties which are likely to be imposed against us will, we hope, amplify our action's effect.
We know there's significant attention in nonviolence circles about our action, mainly in Australia, but in places around the world. This is the most fertile field for alliance development and mutual support in waging resistance.
We also intend to reach out beyond the nonviolent committed and bring new people to calm, purposeful and effective nonviolence. Various communities and congregations of faith have been responsive and productive.
And, of course, we have a program of media stories and coverage which we hope will extend well beyond Alice Springs and generate some national and international attention. The amorphous "public" is, of course the least likely source of new revolutionaries - but then again everyone has to start somewhere. Converts to the cause are worth their weight in broadband.
So in Alice Springs in May/June this year we're running a parallel political program of information, protest and direct action outside the Court.
For those who come to Alice Springs, the nonviolence training will focus on foundation work for the formation and operation of small, autonomous affinity groups which undertake interventionary work against the U.S. war-fighting system.
Intervention contains an element of physical disruption to the war machine. In December 2005 we forced Pine Gap to "lock down" for four hours. In later months the government was forced to conduct a security assessment of Pine Gap and improve their security at a cost of millions (so they say - we'll find out). We have driven up costs and made operations more difficult.
We are few in number and small in resources, and we constitute an efficient and effective means of addressing war and the emerging security/terrorist state.
To promote further actions of this nature we'll be working hard at diversity, mutual respect, cooperation, fun, spirit, miracles, and a relaxed but determined revolutionary zeal to manifest Peace on Earth in the ways that are available.
Around the world
As we do this work, we take comfort and strength from the many thousands of people around the world who, just like us, are building resistance to war. The Pit Stop Plowshares and the Derry 9 in Ireland, Lt Ehren Watada in Seattle, and Father John Dear in Albuquerque - and so it goes.
Come along and join in the fun.