Tuesday 25 March 2008

ANZAC Day @ Pine Gap

Cairns peace activist and 2004 Mayoral candidate, Bryan Law heads back to Pine Gap spy base in the Northern Territory over ANZAC weekend. He will again attempt to breach the perimeter high-security fence. He did this in 2005. Law, along with three others, known as the 'Pine Gap 4', were acquitted of charges under the Special Defence Undertakings Act 1952, last month.

He tells us why.

I’m going to Pine Gap next month, even though it’s difficult and expensive, and I’m going to do another long walk through the desert, even though it’s difficult and dangerous. The cause seems hopeless, but I remain optimistic.

I’d particularly like to praise Terry Spackman, who turns 70 in the week after ANZAC Day, and whose heart and courage is as big as the sky. Terry continues to be a prime force behind the exposure of False Cape, and he hardly ever gets the recognition he’s due for all his good works in Cairns.

Here's a photo of Terry taken outside Pine Gap, with Edward Cranswick, during our trial in June 2007. They’ve just been released by Commonwealth Police, without charge, for climbing the fence into the alleged prohibited area.

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!

ANZAC DAY - April 19 - May 3 Peace Gathering

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.

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).

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 defendents 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".

No comments: