Bryan died in 2013 in March so this site has become an archive site where we are keeping the work of his later life.
There are many documents and actions recorded on this extensive Peace by Peace site from the Pine Gap and early Peace by Peace work through to the Ploughshares Action 2011 and Trial 2013.
Bryan was a great record keeper and we have the stories of a long, varied and creative activist career.
Some of his earlier work we are collecting on Evernote and we are looking for a more permanent archivist and blogger and historian to take up the job of archiving and displaying so that activists can learn from what he did.
Bryan’s work was peculiar in that it often aimed at ordinary regional folk and he remained steadfast in his belief that it was ordinary people who will change the work through courageous action for social justice.
In the meantime, I will repost here some of the work around the trial of Graeme Dunstan which was also really a posthumous trial for Bryan.
Thanks to Robin Taubenfeld and Culley Palmer for the work they did recording the trial. There are some key documents and links to include.
I’m travelling to Brisbane at the beginning of December.
I have a date with the Local Court of NSW, sitting at Tweed Heads on Monday 3 December. The charge “Trespass on prohibited Commonwealth land”. [s89(i) of the Commonwealth Crimes Act.]
Tweed Heads on Monday 3 December
Finalising the NVDA @ HQJOC.
I remember 26 April 2012 as a fun day out at the HQJOC – Headquarters Joint Operational Command, the war-fighting centre from which ADF commands our troops in the war on Afghanistan. (Are our special forces active in Syria? If so they will be “commanded” from HQJOC). I was arrested.
The Australian Quaker Centre at Silver Wattle is thirty minutes drive from HQOC. In April 2012 – coinciding with Anzac Day – Silver Wattle hosted the second gathering whose business was “Putting An End to War”.
On Thursday 26 April, 10 of us initiated nonviolent civil disobedience against HQJOC, as we vowed to enflesh the promise of peace that God has made us in the covenant of life.
I’ve made a short you-tube of the action. The soundtrack includes some of the remembrance part of the action, and a police video of my little speech to the throng of assembled Commonwealth and NSW Police.
I’m proud of myself for dancing into Police lines with only one thought on my mind “I will not touch them first, but I will try to get through”. I did not touch them first. I danced around with intent (like the Elm dance performed earlier). Police were very cooperative in arresting and charging me.
As a litturgical action, with a single symbolic arrest, HQJOC has enjoyed positive effects, with very economical follow-up requirements. There was only ever one minor charge, and so far the damage has been limited to an exchange of correspondence.
I’ve decided to plead guilty (in Tweed Heads for convenience and economy) and just do some local media in northern NSW, and deal with a fine (max $1100). In Court I’ll be promoting Lord Hoffman’s comments on civil disobedience – using the material linked to here as evidence showing just how impeccably civil this particular disobedience was.
With both the judge AND the public I’ll be saying my actions are called for. “Hasn’t this farce gone on long enough? OF COURSE we ought to stop fighting US wars in Afghanistan, but our politicians are a disgrace. You know that”. Hence my actions are in the public interest. I expect it will go well.
While I’m pleased with myself and everyone else involved in this action, I am also very aware that 2012 in Australia has been blessed with a variety of creative and powerful nonviolent actions, including the Swan Island Peace Convergence. There is a sense of resurgence in the nonviolence movements, even if the times are tenuous and fraught with peril.
I’ve recently listened to the “faith based peace witnesses” invocation of the saints, spirits and powers of peace to witness our action, and I am feeling pretty strong and good as result. I’d like to play them to faith based activists around Australia.
We now have firm dates for Exercise TS13 – 15 July to 5 August 2013
Is there any possibility of a gathering in Brisbane
on the weekend of 1-2 December where we could:
Hear from participants in Swan Island and HQJOC actions;
Think about and reflect on these and other NVDA learnings over the past 18 months;
Identify strengths, weaknesses, directions and needs for ourselves and each other;
Find out where various folk are in planning for TS13;
Think about some of the things we know are going to happen;
For instance Graeme Dunstan and I will face a trial in the District Court of Rockhampton sometime next year for the Tiger Ploughshares action, and would like to highlight TS13 and the war in Afghanistan.
Margaret Pestorius is organising some low-cost intelligence/communication equipment – good for trespass actions.
The day after the exercise ends is Hiroshima Day.
We need to do this because, while we were on the outside of HQJOC, meeting with those security forces whose job it is to make sure we don’t disturb the war, on the inside it was pretty much business as usual
Meanwhile, reviewing the material from 26 April has been very encouraging. The audio recording that Brendan made has captured some lovely reflection and determination from a group of highly skilled activists. I’ll be sharing them as I can. It’s material we can use to help ask ourselves and each other “What am I called to do as a peace-maker in these times?”
The occasion of Margaret’s recent court hearing was a whirlwind of action and directed thinking. I watched in awe as Margaret organised material, evaluated evidence, invited network participation, and considered a range of responses and arguments. Then she had a go.
We made a road-trip to Rockhampton for Margaret’s day in Court. We caught up with a handful of Rocky locals. The Court hearing triggered a range of stories across local media, and most of the journalists were switched on to Margaret’s view of this charge as an act of harassment.
The highlight of the hearing was testimony by press photographer Chris Ison. Chris is the senior photographer with the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.
Margaret asked him if he regularly took photographs of “defence installations” as part of his work, and if he took those photographs without ADF permission. The prosecutor leapt to his feet and asked the Magistrate to warn Mr Ison that he might incriminate himself in his answer, and was under no obligation to do so.
Chris Ison is a pretty straight arrow, and confident of his own skills and values. He responded that he was happy to answer the questions. He said that he believed he had a right to take news photos. If such photos included defence installation, so be it. He strongly believed he was within his right, and saw no reason for apology or fear.
And there it was. Behaviour which is acceptable to the ADF when carried out by a press photographer is not acceptable when carried out by a peace activist.
Even the prosecutor ran out of questions after confirming there was no permission for two particular photos that otherwise breached s82 of the Defence Act.
The Magistrate was moved to ask his own question: “Mr Ison, have you ever been invited onto ADF land before by the ADF to take photos?” “Yes”. The Magistrate and Prosecutor colluded to use this answer to exculpate Mr Ison from criminal liability – using the exact same arguments they refused to allow for Margaret.
The Magistrate convicted Margaret. The road in the photographs was a field-work within the definition of s82. Margaret was trespassing on the facility without authorisation. While the camera may have been taken onto the land for other reasons (shrine, recording blockades) there is a technical definition of “intent” for this charge – including that if the offending behaviour is a logical and foreseeable outcome of the conduct engaged in. Photograph a blockade… photograph a road. Done.
“Chris Ison is an entirely different matter”. According to the Magistrate, Mr Ison might have considered that any earlier invitation to attend and take photos to be an open and permanent invitation to do the same thing, and therefore he had a defence of implied authority.
And Margaret didn’t (even though she claimed she did) because…. Well, just because. The maximum fine was imposed ($100) and costs ($4,886). The Crown kept the camera and memory card ($130).
Margaret’s kind of disappointed in that outcome. The costs hurt. They’re meant to.
All future pilgrims are likely to lose any camera equipment, and cop another hunnert in fines. (while thinking laterally to get pix out)
I reckon it’s all valuable experience. Margaret moved on her beliefs. Her actions connected with two things I now believe are essential to effective peace-making:
Margaret’s tenacity reveals the spirit at work.
Margaret first came to TS09 at my encouragement. While there she joined in with Jessica Morrison, Simon Moyle, and Jarrod McKenna as the Bonhoeffer 4 (which built on Jessica and Simon’s trespass initiative of TS07). Margaret came away from that experience deeply affected by the events that unfolded during the trespass. The Spirit moved. Joining in prayer with a US Marine, remembering the dead in wilderness, stayed with Margaret.
It slowly became part of the Shoalwater Wilderness Pilgrimage which Margaret advocated for, and eventually got to taste in 2011. Margaret got a small but nourishing piece of the high-minded, spiritual and reflective action she envisaged.
The bogus ADF complaint gave Margaret the chance to show herself and the pilgrimage project in more detail to the powers and interested parties in Rockhampton. Chris and Cameron from the Dead Fish Society (East St Have-a-chat) paid attention. Jim Dowling and Greg from the Catholic Worker house in Brisbane came up in support. The shrine to Franz Jaegerstaetter got a little time in the sun.
What was revealed for all to see is the benevolence of Margaret’s intentions, and the petty minded vindictive nature of ADF command….. the way police and justice system serve base purpose so readily. The beak had to warn a respected journalist…. and convict a good-hearted woman. Truth was on show.
Principled action builds our knowledge, skill and capacity.
It makes my heart sing to see Margaret get her teeth into the justice system, and build her skills in Court.
There’s a respected tradition of pleading guilty to civil disobedience actions. The Court is then used as an opportunity to explain the circumstances behind the action, the evil which needs exposing, and to invite an appropriate response from the Magistrate or Judge as citizen. This can be politically effective as well as personally empowering for activists.
A second tradition is to get in front of a higher court and try to make a “justification” defence. Ploughshares actions regularly travel this path, and there are a handful of acquittals to show for it. It costs more, and can also be effective.
A third reason to be in Court is to defend the legal and political rights which shelter the processes of dissent and negotiation through which we act. That’s what Margaret was chiefly up to here, and she learned a lot.
It’s a shame the verdict went against her.
During TS11 the Police were defeated twice in Court over Peaceful Assembly issues, and the Rockhampton Regional Council was corrected re political discrimination. It would have been nice to set some boundaries for the ADF.
Every action campaign faces a variety of legal assaults and constraints. It’s in all our interests to build skills for court advocacy and self-defence.
For what it’s worth, Margaret noticed during her preparation that a lot of the legal skill and talent available to activists in regional Queensland is not sufficiently equipped to stage a full and proper defence. Friends who are lawyers working in legal aid or community advocacy don’t generally get to run spirited criminal defences. A lot of their work involves pleading guilty and negotiating sentence. Over worked. Under resourced.
Which makes me even more grateful to Margaret for putting herself on the line. Margaret loves to be loved. She would have loved a court system that paid attention to the why of “no more war”, and could uphold the standards of behaviour required by a just society.
Instead she endured myopia, technical quibbles, and a prosecutorial/judicial team that rewarded officialdom. It’s a war system after all….. until it’s changed. I really like the photo of Margaret and her pal Kate. Kate’s a dinkum local, and the back-drop is Paradise Lagoon, an icon to the local beef industry.
Margaret Pestorius, 47 of Cairns is on trial next Tuesday 12 June 2012, at Rockhampton Magistrates Court.
For “Possessing a Camera, with intent” in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
The ADF has abused a counter espionage law,
using it as a weapon against political dissent.
How does this photo get to be a criminal offence?
Margaret has been charged under Section 82 (2) of the Defence Act 1903, which says
(a) a person enters or approaches any defence installation with sketching, drawing, photographing, or painting materials or apparatus in his or her possession; and
(b) the person has no lawful authority for that conduct; and
(c) the person intends to contravene subsection (1); (make a sketch, drawing etc)
(d) the person is guilty of an offence; and
(e) all tools and all materials or apparatus for sketching, drawing, photographing or painting found in his or her possession are forfeited and may be destroyed, sold, or otherwise disposed of, as the Governor-General directs.
(2A) The maximum penalty for an offence under subsection (2) is a fine of $100.”
Margaret Pestorius is preparing to defend herself in court next Tuesday against this bogus charge, laid by Queensland Police upon complaint from the ADF (via the District Intelligence Office of Rockhampton Police).
She is responding with courage to a vicious act of harassment.
By charging her 6 months after the event…
by insisting on a trial in Rockhampton…
and by calling witnesses from around Australia…
Queensland Police have colluded with the ADF to inflict substantial cost and risk on Margaret. The maximum fine for the offence is $100. The cost of the trial is somewhere around $10,000. The prosecution has said they will seek these costs from Margaret.
Margaret has the courage of her convictions. She intends pleading NOT GUILTY, and putting the Crown to proof. She has several compelling grounds for acquittal.
To illustrate the absurdity of this prosecution I’ve prepared an A3 poster titled “Spot the Difference”.
The poster shows four photos taken during an Exercise Talisman Sabre, two of which ARE subject to the criminal charge… and two of which ARE NOT. Viewers are encouraged to “Spot the Difference”.
WARNING: It’s harder than you think. (attached)
Under s82(2) of the Defence Act it’s a criminal offence to photograph a military aircraft, yet you will see a photo of an ADF “Tiger” helicopter at Rockhampton airport, taken without authority by Chris Ison, chief photographer of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin. The photo was published widely. It was on the front page of the daily newspaper on the very same day the District Intelligence Office of the Rockhampton Police decided to investigate Margaret’s camera. Yet Chris Ison has never been investigated or charged for taking the very same kind of photo.
Beyond that issue, Margaret will be arguing that she had completely different reasons for possessing that camera.
Reasons to do with the practice of nonviolence in an interventionary campaign. To establish the basis of the Shoalwater Wilderness Pilgrimage, the basis on which the shrine to Franz Jaegerstaetter was built, and the importance of publicity in nonviolence campaigning, Bryan Law will be giving evidence. (It’s his camera after all, and the shrine was his idea).
45 years ago, on 4 April 1967, at the riverside church of New York City, the rev Martin Luther King Jr explained his opposition to the war in Vietnam:
War is unjust. War kills God’s children, exploits the dispossessed, and steals from the poor. He said:
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
As I look around me in the world today I see those three evil giants at play. Tearing at the fabric of life.
As a nation in 2012, Australia is being pressed into military service for Washington, the Metropolis of modern war. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, (and Israel) constitute the immediate field of operations. We are becoming embroiled in the South China Sea. We are on the path to perpetual war.
Our country is to become both a pivot, and a rear echelon base to project US power via the Indian and Pacific Oceans and into their associated states. China, India, middle east, se Asia.
Darwin, Perth, and Rockhampton are to become garrison cities for the US Empire, training and deploying forces as circumstances arise. HQJOC at Bungendore is the seat of joint command. Pine Gap outside Alice Springs remains the centre of space-based intelligence. Swan Island trains special forces.
These are six key sites through which we can address Australian support of US war-making.
Among other goals, the 2010 letter gives attention to Exercise Talisman Sabre, calling for:
“A recurring “Shoalwater Wilderness Pilgrimage”, containing and reflecting Christian Civil Disobedience to be developed and publicised for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, and subsequently;” tick
Rockhampton is one of the six national sites. Since P@E2W-2010, I’ve had two years of mostly good fun putting together a set of activities and events in Rockhampton over winter 2011, culminating in the Rocky Tiger Ploughshares action of July 21. tick This was a peak action for me, with fabulous engagement from Graeme Dunstan and Margaret Pestorius.
Margaret Pestorius also got to run a wilderness pilgrimage like she wanted. Helen Bayes from Silver Wattle gave some spiritual guidance and after care to all remaining. Graeme made a major effort facilitating traditional “convergence” activities and coordinating with Darrumbal. All consistent with the goals chosen in P@E2W-2010.
So I’m interested in extending the lessons and responses from Exercise Talisman Sabre, yet it’s only one of five goals we talked about in 2010. There has been progress on quite a few.
Simon Moyle and Jessica Morrison lead a continuing experiment at the Swan Island SAS facility. That group ran a one week parallel event in July 2011 and is planning further events in 2012. tick
Over two years, we’ve experimented in the Gandhian manner at putting an end to war. We’ve all got stuff to share, learn, and plan around using in future experiments.
So as I head to Bungendore to hang out for a week with friends, including Margaret, Graeme, David Johnson, Jo Valentine, Jessica Morrison, and a dozen other faith-based peacemakers I’m thinking it will be an uplifting sort of gathering, from which we might facilitate some continuing good results.
For those who would conquer the evil giant of militarism, one task is clear.
Australia must be brought to withdraw its cooperation with US war-making.
Australian citizens must stop our own country from fighting in US initiated wars, and we must stop aiding and abetting the US in making those wars.
So how exactly do we do that?
I’m not completely sure, but I strongly believe that ploughshares actions and their equivalent have a role to play.
From the experiments I’ve been involved in, I want to share some of the lessons learned and applied – through the citizens inspection of Pine Gap in 2005, Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2007 and 2009, the trial of the Waihopai Ploughshares in 2010, and the Rocky Tiger Ploughshares at Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2011.
My best hope lies in the ongoing impact of the Peace Preacher and Ploughshares campaign in Rockhampton in 2011.
This radical action of direct disarmament by mattock was pretty well received by many of the various publics in Rockhampton. The majority of folk I spoke with about it afterward (mostly in the Hospital) were more concerned about the failure/lies of the Defence establishment that the ploughshares action disclosed (and the war in Afghanistan) than they were about the civil disobedience itself…. which they had been expecting.
I cannot over-stress the importance of advance notice of intentions. It has proven a crucial means of projecting integrity and initiating public debate. It was featured as prosecution evidence in our Pine Gap trial. It will feature as defence evidence in the forthcoming ploughshares trial.
Likewise important is the need to physically disrupt the “business as usual” of the military machine. There’s something metaphysical, something more than real, in the moment when the machine stops, pauses, and has to reset. I believe very strongly that we must continue to develop our capacity to make such moments happen, and to hold them out as an example of what every citizen can do in the event of failure by government to cease making war.
A large majority of Australians oppose the war in Afghanistan and fighting for the USA. How are we doing so poorly at PR?
I think the circumstances are such today that P@E2w-2012 is a timely opportunity to improve and render more effective the widespread sentiment for peace. I’m looking forward to hearing and thinking with others about steps we might take. Among other things I’d like to think about using the upcoming ploughshares trial to best effect.
Underpinning the pragmatic and tactical aspects of our gathering lies the spiritual practice of revering God. Of living out our vocation, whether that is a discipleship to Jesus, the enactment of Buddhist teachings, or adherence to satyagraha. The gathering will be a time to count our blessings and rededicate our lives to the good.
That proposal contains and relies on a residential nonviolence workshop at the Australian Quaker Centre at Silver Wattle, about 10 kilometres from HQJOC as the crow flies. http://silverwattle.org.au/about-silver-wattle/ The workshop will examine possibilities for peak NVDA involving civil disobedience. In addition to the residential workshop, it may be possible to organise a larger presence for a more low key picket at the facility’s front entrance.
Next to the article was a photo of Defence Minister Smith, launching the book “An Unwinnable War: Australia in Afghanistan” by Karen Middleton, and saying that “we’ll stay the course”. The Herald Sun gave a fuller explanation.
Bryan spruiks about airport security, weapons, and the killing of children in Afghanistan. He affirms his intentions to attempt a ploughshares action. Six days after this recording, the Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshares disabled an Army attack helicopter, just like the ones in the slideshow.
On 21 July 2011, with support from Graeme Dunstan of peacebus.com, I struck an ADF Tiger helicopter with a mattock – putting the narrow blade through a carbon fibre panel, and putting the helicopter out of commission.
As a result, Graeme and I have been charged with a number of indictable offences. If convicted I face a near-certain term of imprisonment, while Graeme may be able to qualify for a probation or suspended sentence (then again he may not.
Over the next month or three, Graeme and I have to think about what our legal stance ought be. It seems to be a choice between:
Running a defence based on necessity, similar to the Pine Gap defence (but hopefully better staffed by legal advisors and advocates).; or
Pleading guilty, but opening up the issues around the cost of repair.
I’d appreciate it if you could look at the following two links, and give us the benefit of your thinking and feeling about the best course forward.
The first link is to a 2008 article by Alice Springs Legal Aid Lawyer Russell Goldflam about the trial and appeal of the Pine Gap Four.
The second link is to a piece I wrote in 2010 about lessons to be learned from the Pine Gap Four, and from the trial of the Waihopai ploughshares, where Adi Leason, Peter Murnane and Sam Land failed in the necessity defence but were acquitted of all charges due to claim of right.
One conclusion I draw in the 2010 article is “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.”
I’d appreciate any feedback you have to offer.
Also we’re considering a name for our ploughshares group/action. Any suggestions?