A beautiful morning in Wellington
As the Waihopai Ploughshares head to trial tomorrow one of the defendents, Fr Peter Murnane, officiated at Mass this morning at the shrine outside the US Embassy. About 40 came to worship and make communion with the body of Christ.
In his homily, Peter reflected on the nature of peace, and how it rests on the principles of repentance for wrongdoing, forgiveness of sin, and love for God and each other. He drew attention to the Embassy and how the people living and working in it were in a state of constant fear- as shown by the weapons, defences and architecture of a building in the otherwise sweet sunshine and clear air of a beautiful Wellington day.
He contrasted that with the trees, grass, and living nature of the park in which God’s presence burned everywhere with green fire, and where we gathered to give thanks and praise. He reminded us that God was also present in the hearts of those who worked for empire, and that our work as peace-makers was one of transformation rather than condemnation.
So that while we might work to stop the military machine, and stop the bad behaviour of empire, the key aspect of our work was transformational as we called on God to restore the joy and clean hearts of all the Embassy personel, of ourselves, and of each other.
Then we made communion and prayed.
5.00 pm Wellington time, Saturday 6 March 2010
Proceedings are under way for the trial of the Waihopai Dome-busters – Peter Murnane, Sam Land, and Adrian Leason.
Around 100 people (50 from Wellington, 50 from other parts of Aotearoa, and a couple of ring-ins from Australia, gathered at the Katherine Mansfield Park, in front of the US Embassy, to be welcomed by local Maori leaders. The Embassy is typical of the Imperial American style, cameras, guard posts, steel bollards, high security fences and lots of reinforced concrete.
On this beautiful Wellington evening the US Ebassy looked ready for war, even in this far flung outpost.
Katherine Mansfield Park has swings, trees, lawn, shrubbery and pedestrian pathways. Today a shrine was added, created under the leadership of Adrian Leason, one of the defendents who face trial on Monday.
The shrine is a thing of beauty and power, proclaiming love, hope, and nonviolence as the future of humanity.
The welcoming ceremony was conducted in Maori language, and the only words I could understand were “America”, “Afghanistan”, “Iraq”, and “Waihopai”. It was explained to me that the welcome involved the visitors proclaiming their identity, presence and purpose, with the locals then reflecting on the river, mountain, and land before cohering with and welcoming the visitors. The speaking sure sounded powerful. Then everyone rubbed noses in a ritual circle.
There’s a new peace group in Cairns.
Margaret, Steve, Rob, Mike, Paul, and I have made decisions about the what, how and who of taking effective action. Trish, Sarah, Polly, Carla, Jonathon and Stu will join in the training, and the support/action. We are going to make the US Navy’s job a lot harder every time they come to Cairns.
We’re meeting again on 3 March to move the costumes forward (penguin/stinger suits), and decide on a training program and public launch.
We have three swimmers, a media guru, a techno-geek, a community artist, and a bunch of otherwise ordinary folk willing to witness, support and organise. We’ll take dramatic and effective NVDA every time a US warship arrives. We’ll use that NVDA to spread the word and build the movement.
Our action will be to swim out in front of arriving US warships – to make them stop and wait while Queensland water Police clear us out of the way. With three swimmers, all of whom will non-cooperate (and two of whom will be fit), it ought take Police an hour or more to do that job. For that hour, the US Navy ship will be vulnerable. Under tow in a foreign civilian port.
A big and important warship – like the USS Blue Ridge – might be kept vulnerable for several hours.
If we can achieve these modest goals the US Navy will stop coming to Cairns.
Beating Swords into Ploughshares
In April 2008 Peter was one of three Catholic Worker activists who, calling themselves ANZAC Ploughshares, broke into the US run Waihopai spy base outside Blenheim in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. After they broke in they deflated a radome, exposing the satellite dish within. Waihopai is a ground receiving station for space-based signals and electronic “intelligence”, which is then fed into the US “Defence” (war-fighting) system. The other Catholic Workers are young organic farmers, Sam land and Adi Leason.
Just like Pine Gap in Australia, information received at Waihopai is a key weapon in US wars around the world. The intelligence is used to generate real- time battlefield information, and to discern military, economic and political targets for operational purposes. The US military calls this space-based intelligence capacity a “force multiplier” – and has been accelerating its use since 1991 and its first war against Iraq.
Peter Murnane says the information collected at Waihopai is also used to identify people for the US “extraordinary rendition” program where suspected “terrorists” are kidnapped and tortured in CIA black ops. Waihopai is part of the Echelon eavesdropping program of US intelligence.
When the ANZAC Ploughshares deflated the Waihopai dome, they not only exposed the role of that spy base in waging global war – they also showed how it’s possible for human beings to act directly and effectively against war.