Pine Gap April 19 to May 3 for a Peace Gathering
Posted by lahar9jhadav on March 25, 2008
Reclaim ANZAC Day from the war glorifiers – gather at Pine Gap April 19 to May 3 for a Peace Gathering
This is an invitation to all Christian and Gandhian nonviolence activists who want to advance their knowledge and practice of nonviolent direct action in Australia together. Other faiths welcome!
For years I’ve dreamed about reclaiming ANZAC Day from the war glorifiers, by re-consecrating it as a day of peace in memory of all those who’ve died in war.
I’ve been able to do little bits in Cairns, sometimes with Stu and Michael Martin (no relations) and Margaret Pestorius. I’ve made some displays featuring testimony from original WW1 ANZACS from Gallipoli and France – to remind people the original ANZACS proclaimed the futility and horror of war. During WW1 Australia defeated two conscription referenda and dedicated itself to international peace. I know from the little bit so far that lots and lots of people engage with ANZAC Day. It’s a prime site for action.
(Margaret tells me the memorialisation of the fallen came out of community movements and committees of folk around Australia in the 1920s and 30s who wished to remember their loved ones).
In 2008 war has changed, society has changed and ANZAC Day has become a day to promote and valorise nationalist military capacity rather than to embrace peace. It’s time we changed that back.
PINE GAP NVDA
For the past two and a half years I’ve been involved with Christians Against ALL Terrorism, and the very successful nonviolent direct action (NVDA) we carried off by inspecting the “technical area” of Pine Gap in December 2005.
A key objective of that action was to demonstrate the powerful effect a well planned and executed small group intervention could produce in a national context, at a time when numbers in the peace movement were small and conditions were hard. Here’s a reflection I wrote about my experiences in that action.
Here’s an article about it from Frank Brennan (a Jesuit priest and hero of mine) from Eureka Street this month.
It has always been my intention to follow up Pine Gap NVDA 1 with Pine Gap NVDA 2. (Persistence produces results).
In consultation with the Pine Gap 4 I used the conclusion of our recent appeal to announce that a second Citizen’s Inspection of Pine Gap Terror Base by Christians Against ALL Terrorism will occur at dawn on ANZAC Day, 25 April, 2008. This announcement has received considerable coverage and ongoing interest from media, both mainstream and independent, across Australia.
I’ve booked Campfire in the Heart, a retreat centre in a community of prayer and hospitality at Alice Springs, between 19 April and 3 may 2008 to act as a base from which to organise the next Act of interventionary NVDA.
If you want to explore nonviolent interventionary action, share insights, hone your skills, or celebrate the developing peace networks on earth, come to Campfire in the Heart this April for ANZAC Day. Participate in your way in a full range of available nonviolence activities and options (including solidarity actions for the Samuel Hill 4 who are on trial 24 April in Rockhampton for Talisman Sabre 07). Samuel Hill blogspot
There’s some possibility we’ll do a vine and fig tree liturgy/action.
A small group of loving activists committed to nonviolence can do anything!
We’ll be seeking 4-6 people from among locals and visitors to make the dawn attempt on ANZAC Day – to penetrate the Technical Area of the Pine Gap Terror Base. I’ll be one of them, and my Grandfather mate Terry Spackman will be another.
There will be solidarity actions around Australia and in New Zealand.
We are going to shine the ANZAC light on Pine Gap, and ask why we’ve abandoned our friends across the Tasman for a murderous Imperial master like the USA and its rampant militarism.
There was a special moment during our trial in June 2007 when two dozen support crew gathered together with the defendants at Campfire in the Heart and we did an appreciation circle where supporters were affirmed for all the qualities they brought to our common task (we were a community of peace-makers). My wonderful wife and teacher Margaret Pestorius was being praised for her persistent and powerful organizing of music, liturgy and collective action. Her response to this praise came as a statement “Every skill you want can be taught”.
Margaret was paying tribute to the Australian Nonviolence Network and its long-term emphasis on education and training in all the aspects of Gandhian nonviolence. She was also affirming her belief that human beings are infinitely intelligent and creative, and can organize to make dreams come true. Margaret is an active Catholic.
And so it goes with Christians Against ALL Terrorism and the Citizens’ Inspection of Pine Gap. Everything about it can be taught, adapted and improved. Margaret will lead and assist in workshops liturgy and actions during ANZAC Day @ Pine Gap.
The first Citizens’ Inspection was a real corker. We implemented some cutting edge techniques in maximizing the power of the action to capture the public imagination and produce results:
– Liaison with Police and other authorities was 98% open, 2% circumspect. We looked good and responsible ALL the time.
– Damage to property was embraced to the minimum degree compatible with effectiveness, and was done in a very open and transparent manner. We looked good and responsible ALL the time.
– The personal dynamics, based on prayer, forgiveness and loving one’s enemies created a group which grew closer through shared struggle and became proficient in consensus and tolerance over time. We acted good and responsible most of the time. Every once in a while someone would be cheeky or stubborn.
– Faith issues produced some unsettling effects on secular peaceniks, but opened church and other faith based congregations to hear and engage with our material on peace-making. For me that’s a new and significant audience. I noticed there are active Christian peace-making groups emerging across the country. The nonviolent Christ is at work.
– We went all the way through to prison resistance, Adele and Donna experiencing prison for the first time. That it was done in a mutual, supportive environment with good movement awareness and publicity made it a productive experience for all concerned.
– We capitalized on back-fire analysis and won significant legal battles. We did this in Court both as self-represented litigants, and through finding committed Counsel. We did a lot of politics around the Court.
One key objective for ANZAC Day @ Pine Gap is to further the study and practice of NVDA in Australia. For two weeks Campfire in the Heart will be a nonviolence laboratory.
Correspondence began with the new Labor Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon in January this year. I’ve sought a meeting with the Minister, and am awaiting a reply. See cairnspeacebypeace.org (click on Minister for Defence at bottom). I’ve spoken directly with Cameron Ash, the new Deputy Chief of Facility at Pine Gap (the senior Australian DoD official) and Inspector Ken Napier (chief of the AFP Protective Service at Pine Gap) about the action, and they are organizing a security response. (They both attended the Appeal in Darwin and I buttonholed them on the second day). NT Police at Alice Springs are also on the job.
Anyone who wants to share and develop better practices of Police and Authority Liaison is welcome to ANZAC Day @ Pine Gap.
I’m really interested in Christian nonviolence, traditional and contemporary. Call me naïve. Call me blasphemous. I went into this action looking for evidence of God’s work in Earth. I was inspired into this action by my experience of the Brisbane Catholic Worker community in the 1980s, and my continuing friendship with Ciaron O’Reilly, Jim Dowling and Anne Rampa, and their continuing activities.
In his introduction to “Mohandas Gandhi, Apostle of Nonviolence” Father John Dear (a troublesome Jesuit in the USA) discusses the way Gandhi made nonviolence and belief in a nonviolent God the centre of his practice and teaching. Read it at http://www.johndear.org
Gandhi’s role was to discern as best as he was able what God wanted him to do. By clinging to truth, and by prayer Gandhi would devise right action. Then, he seems to say, let God take care of the results. If we’re close to God, the Spirit will act through our actions. Or something like that.
It was a real blast to practice loving our enemies (and our friends during conflict) in a practical way. Way back in 2005 Christians Against ALL Terrorism relied on the testimony of father George Zabelka, a Catholic Priest who blessed the crews and missions of the Enola Gay and Bok’s Car as they flew to drop Atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Father George was later caught up in the civil rights movement. He said
“I worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights struggle in Flint, Michigan. His example and words of nonviolent action, choosing love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, and nonviolence instead of violence stirred me deeply. This brought me face to face with pacifism – active nonviolent resistance to evil. I recall his words after he was jailed in Montgomery, and this blew my mind. He said, “Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers.”
I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was on the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: ‘Love your enemies. Return good for evil.’ I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as unpassable and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely.”
A second key objective for ANZAC Day @ Pine Gap is to continue and develop the expression of Christian nonviolence.
Pine Gap remains a strategically vital component of the US global military machine. Given the US doctrines on pre-emptive war and space war, Pine Gap is critical to maintaining US capacity to deploy space-based intelligence, targeting and missile control in regional battlefields in real time. The objective is a “prompt global strike” capacity to hit any point on the planet with either nuclear or conventional warheads within an hour.
Pine Gap is central to US proposed Missile Defence Shield. Satellites reporting to Pine Gap detect missile launches and collect telemetry data about the missiles’ location and course. The data is then used to direct anti-ballistic missile fire. There is no Missile Defence Shield in East Asia or the Middle East without Pine Gap. Right now there’s a global arms race.
AUSMIN talks in Canberra in February this year agreed that the newly elected Rudd Labor government would consider becoming formally a partner in a regional/global Missile Defence Shield.
About “Defence Relations”, the AUSMIN Joint Communiqué said
“Both countries noted the significant benefit of working together in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and agreed to establish a combined team to pursue options for enhancing collaboration in the field. (Pine Gap, Geraldton, StratCom) Australia and the United States agreed to finalise negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to the continuation of the Joint Combined Training Capability, and noted the Joint Combined Training Capability’s significance in reducing the cost and improving the quality of combined training. (Shoalwater Bay, Delamere and Bradshaw Air Ranges) Australia and the United States signed a Statement of Principles establishing a military satellite communications partnership.” see nebraskans for peace
Pine Gap and Shoalwater Bay are significant sites for resistance/transformation in Australia.
The third key objective of ANZAC Day @ Pine Gap is to materially resist the US military machine.
The final objective is to continue experimenting with forms of nonviolent action suitable to the objective conditions of both the oppressive society and the peace movement in today’s world.
I’m mindful of Ciaron O’Reilly’s experience after the acquittal of the Pit-Stop Plowshares in June 2006. As I understand it Ciaron tried to leverage off the success of that action by creating a “group of 100” pledged to further intervention in a campaign to de-militarise Shannon Airport. The campaign brought security attention and repression, but failed to attract 100 dedicated activists.
Most of the activists I know already feel like they’re doing too much. Such are the difficulties of our times. Jim, Adele and Donna are going in their own directions. The isolation and difficulty associated with Pine Gap and Alice Springs makes it look like a major commitment just to get there. Many have career and family pressures restricting their options.
The next inspection is likely to be something of an anti-climax compared to the first. But then again. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I confidently believe that we can plan an action guaranteed to succeed in building a peaceful world. We will make ourselves better and more powerful activists, while engaging the state in political jui jitsu, and winning converts to spiritual nonviolence.
The original idea was to keep the activist group small and dedicated. (Which is good, ‘cos I can’t imagine achieving anything bigger than “small” by this ANZAC Day). I feel right now much like I did two months before the first inspection. I know I’m going to do it, and I know that a reliable mate (Terry this time) is going to do it with me. And if it comes down to it, two is enough (although 4-6 will be better).
Finally, if we can manage it, I’d like to once more be charged with offences under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952, in the light of the recent decision by the NT Court of Criminal Appeal in which Chief Justice Martin found that:
“Evidence relevant to the issue of whether the Facility was, at the time of the declaration, being used for defence purposes, and whether the declaration was necessary for defence purposes at the time it was made, is admissible because it bears upon the validity of the declaration”. see here
He found that evidence relevant to the use of the base in 2005 may or may not be relevant subject to argument and findings about the scope of the defence power in the Constitution, and also that discovery and production of relevant government documents might be available to defendants under the DSU, subject to both the constitutional arguments and the submission of sufficiently persuasive arguments that such documents exist and relate in a satisfactory way to the issues at trial re the validity of declarations under Sections 6 and 8 of the DSU.
There would be a great public benefit to the disclosure of such material to the Australian public, and I would certainly be willing to go take the time and trouble to attempt to achieve it.
Thanks for reading this, and please think about how to support the ongoing efforts to hold the Australian government accountable for both Pine gap, and the present defence arrangements in which Australia supports US aggression world-wide.
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