In Rockhampton preparing to resist Exercise Talisman Sabre
(a daggy little experiment in truth)
For a bit more than a year now, I’ve been planning a three month engagement with Rockhampton – preparing for and carrying out resistance to Exercise Talisman Sabre.
My efforts are in the context of a wider “movement” (or impulse towards movement) that is the Peace Convergence. www.peaceconvergence.com TS11 is the 4th occasion on which people have taken action in response to these bi-annual war-games. Graeme Dunstan of www.peacebus.com is convenor of this year’s peace convergence.
I’m identifying with Christians Against ALL Terrorism, and building towards civil disobedience actions. In particular I want to carry out a “ploughshares action” at Rockhampton Airport between July 17 and July 24. I intend to disarm a US military aircraft with a mattock (or at least give it a very good try). There’s a whole history and analysis behind this proposed ploughshares action – which you can read here: http://www.cairnspeacebypeace.org/?page_id=952
“By choosing targets such as airplanes, ships, tanks etc (less secret, more direct weapons systems/components), and by majorly disabling said piece of equipment, it may yet be possible to get a necessity defence in front of an Australian or New Zealand jury.”
There’s a lot at risk, and a high price to pay (losing my family and spending years in prison) and so I’m keen to make it count for something. (Make it count for as much as I possibly can).
One key objective of current preparation is to build a media narrative which;
holds the attention of the local citizens of Rockhampton and district through June and July
creates sympathy for peace activists and the cause of peace
inspires local citizens to stand up for peace
honestly debates the US alliance and the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
Which is not as easy as it sounds, but here’s a review of how it’s going so far:
The nature of the ploughshares action brought early coverage in April from Adrian Taylor of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin (about three weeks before I got to town). Adrian is a 30 year veteran journalist now living in regional Queensland. There was a television story on Seven that I didn’t see, and a follow-up from the Bulletin.
In May just the fact of our (Graeme Dunstan and I) arrival was enough to generate some stories. In June we turned to display and symbol type actions to make stories (attempt to enter barracks, make a fuss at a Council meeting, ambush the Mayor at a shopping centre).
To the action stories there’s a response through the Bulletin (texts, letters, online comment) from a small, bigoted, reactionary group who just call us names. I think of them as the vigilante mob. I am apparently a terrorist, a traitor, a serial pest, and/or a lunatic criminal. I should go to prison, Afghanistan and/or the loony bin. Or be used for target practice. “JewBoy” from Kawana said in the Buuly’s online comments that if I’d been wearing Moslem headgear instead of a cowboy hat I would have been arrested like I oughta bin. He was very insightful.
This is the crew that tries to shut down discussion by threatening and being very unpleasant to anyone who challenges the social orthodoxy of the “Beef Capital of Queensland”. By now they’ve got the editor convinced this story has legs. Unfortunately they’ll also encourage a perception of the issues as divisive/combative. There might even be escalating sensationalism. In an Australian newspaper!
WIN TV continues to provide stories about 1.45 minutes, and well constructed. Sarah Owens “gets” the big picture story, and each small story is placed in pretty accurate context. WIN coverage is assisted by a veteran cameraman. Seven’s not really up to speed yet, and we’re not seeing much of the ABC. Nor fm radio. I expect that will change.
WIN TV News
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxcLUN2VYBA (9 June – Serco Sodexo)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn-Cu1MJiPM (14 June – Mayor Brad Carter)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvDEtduEn1c (16 June – Mayor Brad Carter) (Where Paul and Edwina got a say, and where Brad Carter had to take part in debate (whether he wanted to or not).
Seven TV News
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp71LmgYDUw (14 June – Mayor Brad carter)
http://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/story/2011/04/20/man-vows-to-attack-rocky-airport-bryan-law-chopper/ (20 April story – the initial piece of journalism by Adrian Taylor)
You can find some correction of 17 June’s Bulletin at www.cairnspeacebypeace.org The story now has momentum, and can provide opportunities for all the different groups to promote their own message, like Paul and Edwina did on WIN.
Mayor Carter didn’t want a public debate on the war, but in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin of 17 June as saying “he did not support the war, or conflicts in other countries”.
The more good folk who come in on these opportunities for participation, the stronger we all become. Noel Preston says he’s writing an opinion piece for the Bulletin about the arms trade. I’m hoping the Queensland Greens will take advantage. There’s a Catholic Peace and Justice Gathering next week which will consider the Talisman Sabre Exercises, and for which I’m writing a letter to Rockhampton’s Catholic Bishop, Brian Heenan.
So the media campaign is going well. The social networking is great on the Capricorn Coast and mediocre in Rockhampton. The programme of public speaking is pure gold!
I get strong recognition with my Bob Katter costume (just right for the Beef Capital of Queensland), and I get much affirmation from the Rockhampton people when I call for an end to war. I expect that by the first half of July, I’ll be able to go anywhere in public and message for peace effectively.
Leading for me to a crescendo of nonviolent civil disobedience and prison time as the moon waxes in mid July.
Every time I spruik to the intersection at East St and Denham St in Rockhampton, I feel uplifted. Which makes me very happy with the state of things.