Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Five peace activists arrested at Talisman Sabre war games

June 22, 2007 - Five peace activists have been arrested and a 66-year-old woman is still at large at the site of Talisman Sabre 07 - a large-scale military exercise involving Australian and US troops in central Queensland.

Military police located the five protesters - aged 22 to 53 - inside the Military Training Area on Thursday morning. Three women and two men have been charged with trespassing on Commonwealth land and will appear in the Yeppoon Magistrates Court on August 2...

"Another world is possible: that is why we act"
The five Christian pacifists entered the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area on Thursday to raise their concerns about and stop the Talisman Sabre live military exercises taking place over the next two weeks.

Simon Reeves (26 yrs Melbourne – Social Worker), Simon Moyle (30 yrs Melbourne – Baptist Minister), Krystal Spencer (21yrs Melbourne – Student), Sarah Williams (23 yrs Melbourne – Support Worker) and Carol Powell (53yrs Brisbane – Nurse (Registered) released the following statement before they entered the area:


Imagining Peace: We plan to enter the base to disrupt these military exercise with our presence. We do so openly and honestly, without deception, and while actively seeking out military personnel with whom to dialogue.

We are five nonviolent Christian people who, like the prophet Isaiah, are working towards the day when people will beat swords into ploughshares and study war no more. As followers of the nonviolent Jesus, we cannot stand by while our country plans the destruction of our brothers and sisters in other countries and the environment here at Shoalwater Bay.

We do not take these actions lightly, but with an awareness that the gravity of our actions pales in comparison to the crimes of the Australian and US militaries this week. The destruction of pristine wilderness, with unique and endangered wildlife is unacceptable, as is the increased reliance on violent methods of conflict resolution.We take these actions because all other legal attempts to stop the exercises have failed.

People are likely to say that we have no respect for the law, however, this is not so. Rather, we say, with Martin Luther King Jr. and in accordance with the principles of nonviolence, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

We believe that practicing for war only means more war. That is why we must imagine peace, embody peace, practice peace. Another world is possible: that is why we act.


June Norman, 66, from Goodna, south of Brisbane, was last seen near the training area on Tuesday morning.

“War is not a game. I feel for the children of Iraq who are being killed by the actions of the US and our military,” Mrs Norman said before she disappeared behind the barb wire fence yesterday of the military training area. As she entered the prohibited zone, Mrs Norman said has taken this personal action because she is ashamed of our government’s role in Iraq. “The military has upped the ante with these military exercises and I felt I had to respond accordingly,” said the Brisbane great grandmother.

Several groups entered the Shoalwater Bay site in the past few days in an effort to disrupt the exercise. Police say they believe Ms Norman was staying with friends at a caravan park at Yeppoon, south of Shoalwater Bay.

Peace Convergence organisers are concerned that the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) are not taking seriously securing the safety of peace activists who went inside the Shoalwater Bay military training area this week. Statements released to the media by the military indicate they don’t believe activists actually penetrated and went inside the military firing zone.

Peace Convergence spokesperson Treena Lenthall said, “This is not a stunt. These people have made a personal decision based on their moral convictions the only way they can stop the war exercises is to risk their lives. They feel strongly about the war in Iraq and stopping the environmental damage to Shoalwater Bay from these military exercises.

“Their lives are on the line and we want a commitment from ADF that according to normal Defence protocols live firing will cease until they are found,” Ms Lenthall said. “Their safety should be of prime concern to the military. At least two of the activists have young children under the age of two, and their partners as with the families of all those risking their lives, need assurance that their loved ones won’t be accidentally killed or injured.”

Peace Convergence organisers have contacted politicians hoping questions will be raised in Federal parliament before it rises for the winter recess at the end of this week. “So far, the silence from the parliamentary benches from both major parties regarding the safety of these seven has been deafening,” says Ms Lenthall. “The politicians seem more intent on awarding themselves a $20,000 plus pay rise than they are about seeing that these people are not killed by our forces or the US military,” she said.

Meanwhile, the federal government has reminded peace activists that they have a responsibility not to expose themselves to risk while protesting. Federal Human Services Minister Chris Ellison, speaking for Defence Minister Brendan Nelson in the Senate, said the Department of Defence respected people's right to exercise their freedom of speech. But those who protested unlawfully could not expect the same protection as those who did so lawfully, he said.

Media Spokesperson contact:
Jacob Bolton: Justice and Peace Initiates 0433 832 000
Frank Bruinstroop: Just Peace 0438 779 324
Treena Lenthall: 0432 563 967.

Brisbane Times
Peace Convergence Media
Peace Convergence Media 2

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