Adi’s testimony continues
Yesterday was a short day in Court, and concluded with a very successful public meeting at St John’s Presbyterian Church that evening.
In Court, Adi Leason re-commenced his testimony where it’d been interrupted by the power failure on Tuesday. His Counsel Mike Knowles by asking him “When and how you decided the work of Waihopai base was so important to you that you had to address it?”
Adi re-stated the importance in his life of a deep and strong Christian faith. “Everything I know, and everything I’ve read in the Bible can be boiled down into two things” he said.
“Loving the Lord God with all your heart, soul, conscious and spirit”
and following Jesus’ commandment to “Love your neighbour as yourself”
And these two principles lead to a way of life: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
“War is the opposite of that!”
Hope and Despair
He then went on to tell the story of that period after he’d returned from Thailand and moved to the farm at Otaki. His mother became terminall ill, so she moved into Adi’s house where he (with community nursing assistance) cared for her through the process of dying. His mother died at home surrounded by family. Weeks later a child was born in the same bed. As he tended his garden and watched the seasons roll on in the established pattern he reflected on how important family was to human life.
Around this time he saw a TV interview with an Iraqi grandfather who was holding the body of a dead grand-child, and who, according to this BBC report, had just lost every living member of his family in a US bomb attack. “That man just looked so desolate” Adi said. “The bomb that killed his family would have been sent there by ELINT collected at bases like Waihopai that were part of the Echelon network”.
“At that time I started to feel a knot in my stomach, and I knew I couldn’t carry on JUST praying. I mean prayer is great, and our family begins every day with it, but it was becoming clear to me that more was needed”.
Then came the images of Abu Graihb prison and the torture that was going on there. Adi was struck by “the wrongness of that: the immorality of that.”
A possible way forward
“I couldn’t avoid reflecting on various ploughshares actions around the world”. He cited the ANZAC Ploughshares at Griffis Airforce Base conducted by Ciaron O’Reilly and Moana Cole (friends of his). The Liverpool based Seeds of Peace Ploughshares. The Pitstop Ploughshares at Shannon Airforce Base, The Christians Against ALL Terrorism at Pine Gap in Australia.
He described “a growing sense that this was a possible opportunity for me to act on my belief”!
Then he described some of the history of legitimate protest against waihopai over 20 years, all of which failed to achieve anything more than “a total stonewall non-response”. ”In January 2008 Sam (Land), Peter (Murnane) and I started seriously discussing an action to disable Waihopai Base”.
Moments of magic
Mr Knowles then took Adi through the action itself.
Adi has a laconic wit, and a terriffic sense of humour, so his testimony about the disarmament action was loaded with phrases like:
“40,000 Volts (the electrified security fence) is a significant deterrant”.
“There are certain laws of physics that meant the truck wasn’t getting out of the ditch”
“After we exposed the electric wires Sam and I gave the bolt-cutters to Peter (older, without a family)”
Despite the humour Adi showed himself to be dead serious about his act of disarmament. At several points the crew had to overcome fear (of discovery, of injury and death) in order to proceed with their plan.
In a compelling moment explained that the thought he kept in his head during the danger and hardship was of his 3yo daughter. He imagined another 3yo in iraq under threat, and asked himself “would I do this to save my daughter? Yes I would”. And so he acted to save the imaginary child across the seas.
So they got into the base undetected. They cut through and deflated the dome undetected. They built a shrine, hung banners, and began prayer – all undetected. Just before they sliced through the dome they prayed together “We disarm you in the name of Jesus Christ”.
Eventually security came. The crew made sure that security personnel felt safe and, after inviting them to join in prayer, they surrendered all the sharp tools, along with the key to the now padlocked and chained front gate. They waited calmly for Police and for the trial they are now undergoing.
I watched the jury members a fair bit during Adi’s testimony, and there’s no doubt he has their full attention. I can’t tell what’s going on in the mind of a jury member, but I found it difficult at times not to cry during Adi’s testimony. He is such a loving and thoughtful man, acting at great personal risk, but without rancour or self-righteousness. Fortunately I get a chance to hug him each day while he’s still free, and I feel refreshed and inspired by his shining example.
The Emporer has new clothes!
Which is more than I can say for Mr Murray, the prosecutor, who I feel alternately sorry for, and a bit pissed off with.
The Prosecutor’s job is to tear down Adi’s tender concerns. To ridicule and undermine him. He started that at about mid- day yesterday and carried on for 45 minutes.
“Isn’t it true that you don’t know specifically what goes on at Waihopai?” (It’s a secret base about which the government lies)
“So you get all your information from a book published in 1996?” (No, but the book remains accurate in any event)
“You didn’t spend much time taking inoffensive protest action about the base did you?” (others did for 20 years, none of which worked).
And the classic series of “Do you agree we live in a democracy, and the government acts correctly all the time, and you are free to waste as much time as you like collecting petitions that don’t work?” ( While the murder goes on.)
Sometimes i think Mr Murray is an agent paid by the Emporer to pretend the new clothes are both warm and beautiful. I ask myself how he can stand the falsity and emptiness of performing his task. Then I remember that the evil roots of the war system keep otherwise good folk away from truth. away from a personal experience of power and goodness. trapped in a shallow mire of consumerism. I try then to forgive and love Mr Murray.
During the lunch adjournment a juror became ill, and Court was adjourned for the day. Adi’s cross examination will continue today, and then we’ll hear testimony from Father Peter Murnane. I apologise for the absence of photos today, but yesterday was very full, and I have a little physical tiredness now.
The Public Meeting
Last night was a great public meeting where two traditional political activists (Murray Horton from the Anti-Bases Campaign, and Greens MP Keith Locke) spelled out clearly what the base is, and how limited is the process of Parliamentary accountability.
Then Moana Cole spoke powerfully and eloquently of the Ploughshares prophecy, philosophy, movement and hope. I made a little slide presentation about Pine Gap, nonviolence, and the joy of powerful NVDA. There were 120 or so at the meeting with a great feeling, and a spirit of determination.
That’s it for now. I’m off to court again soon, and I’ll report back on this blog.
Your support and interest means a lot to the defendents. keep the messages of support flowing.