TS11 11-29 July @ Shoalwater Bay

US military helicopter at Rockhampton Airport during TS09

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 will be conducted 18 to 29 July 2011.  There will be a strong peace presence at Rockhampton, Byfield, and Shoalwater Bay.

TS11 will be similar in scale and intensity to Talisman Sabre 2009 and previous Joint exercises with the US since 1999.   TS11 is scheduled to involve up to approximately 30,000 Australian and US personnel. Manoeuvring and live firing elements associated with TS11 will be conducted over a two week period from18 to 29 July 2011. A “period for the consolidation and preparation of troops prior to more intensive periods of training” begins on 11 July 2011.

Peace activists are invited to converge in and around Shoalwater Bay for cultural and interventionary action between 11 and 29 July 2011.

Many peace activities are planned.  More information about that can be found at Peace Convergence.  That site explains a set of organising principles that most of us think are appropriate to contemporary circumstances.

I am preparing to conduct a ploughshares action at Rockhampton Airport between 18 and 29 July 2011, aimed at disabling a US military helicopter.

Waihopai Spybase Protest in Aotearoa 21-23 January 2011

One Dome Deflated by successful ploughshares action

Waihopai, just outside Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand, is a US run ground receiving station for space-based electronic intelligence.  In 2008 three Catholic activists entered the base and deflated one of the domes protecting a satellite dish.  In doing so, they brought the activities at Waihopai to a temporary halt, and disclosed useful information about how the base operates.

The activists were acquitted by a jury at the Wellington District Court in March 2010.  You can read my account of that trial here.

There was uproar in NZ after the verdict was announced.  The Attorney General threatened an appeal (no grounds), the statutory destruction of common law rights (completely stupid) and a civil suit to punish the activists and their families financially.

The civil suit is now proceeding, and many are looking forward to the testimony in that suit of the Director General of the top secret Government Communications Security Bureau, and his staff, about the operations of Waihopai.

The Anti Bases Coalition is conducting a protest rally at Waihopai from January 21 to 23 2011.  ALL are welcome.

Talking with the Major-General

My mate Graeme Dunstan http://www.peacebus.com/ has been writing to Major-General Steve Gower in his capacity as the Director of the Australian War Memorialhttp://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/ about ANZAC Day 2011.

I’ve culled that correspondence from e-mail, and it’s reproduced on the “AWM Correspondence page“.

23 October Graeme writes to Steve Gowerabout a triffic new addition to ANZAC Day.       “How about it?”
28 October Steve replies – “No, you can’t use our space”.
28 October Graeme replies – “I’ll explain my vision a little more”.
9 November steve responds – “You’re wrong about ANZAC Day, and you’re not using our venue”.
9 November Graeme responds – “We weren’t asking permission, read the book, let’s negotiate”.
11 November (Armistace day) Steve responds – “No permission, no meeting, go away”.
11 November graeme – “Alright then, you leave me no choice, I’ll correspond with your governing Council”.

I approve very much of the proposed ANZAC Eve Vigil, which is a really timely citizens’ addition to ANZAC Day.  In Cairns, Peace by Peace is organising a vigil for the Cenotaph on the Esplanade, in front of the RSL.  We’ll be using Graeme designed lanterns.  Graeme, Clair and friends will organise the Canberra War Memorial.  Every place in the country has an ANZAC venue.

If you read the correspondence from Major-General Gower, you’ll see where he believes that the War Memorial, and ANZAC Day, belong to him and his management Committee.

General Gower needs reminding that the war-making state is itself a target of scrutiny on ANZAC Day.  How have the Parliament, and the military, discharged the holy trust of minimising war, of guarding the memory and lives of those Australian soldiers killed and maimed in war?  How have Australians behaved in protecting the sanctity of life, and the safety of all?

The Silver Wattle crew deciding to vigil. ANZAC Day 2010

By conducting a candle/lantern lit vigil in memory of all the victims of war, and by expanding the ANZAC Day liturgy to include three lines of John 15 12-14, the new component of ANZAC Day will help restore the underlying pacific nature as it was intended by the original ANZACs.

You can read the Open Letter from Silver Wattle here.