Supporting Friends and Defending the Forests
Coffs Harbour Jetty is now a tourism precinct but in earlier times it was a working harbour with saw mills, an export point for the timber cut from the extensive forests in the hinterland. The Forestry office at Coffs Jetty was built in 1926 when the port and the mills were thriving and it is a funky timber building of the era, with million dollar views over the port district.
A motley crew of forest activists led by Ruth Rosenhek of the Rainforest Information centre in Lismore has gathered and occupied the lawn beside the offices, Peacebus, Molly, Jolly and Jennifer included. We have been informed by the Deputy General Manager, Native Forests Division, that the lawn is in fact Compartment One of the Coffs Harbour State forest and as such its public land and we have a right to be here.
The Ghandian slant on the action has already established much goodwill.
A big conflict is looming. Ten years ago a fierce defence of forests in the region led to pause while negotiations took place to find agreements that satisfied both the need for "resource security" for the loggers and prerservation of old growth forests and habitat for endangered species.
But as with just about everything the corrupt Carr government of NSW has touched, for those who were seeking change, the process has been a betrayal. The Regional Forestry Agreements have conserved only 25% of the forest the state government's own experts recommended for preservation of species.
Instaed the Regional Forestry Agreements will open up the way for the wholesale destruction of native forest diversity and introduce mono species plantations and industrial harvesting. NSW taxpayers will provide the road infrastructure for foreign owned multinational companies to rip out the timber and annihilate native species animal and vegetable.
At the end of this month the Chaelundi forest, scene of the epic struggle of 1992, is scheduled to be logged.
The five day Fast for the Forests is bearing witness to failure of the agreemtns and is building movement for another defence of the forests. Here follows media releases and Gahndi's statement on the practice of satyagraha that has inspired Ruth Rosenhek.
Peacebus.com 12 August 2002
THE FAST FOR FORESTS
AUGUST 12-16th, 2002
outside NSW State Forest Office at Coffs Harbour Jetty
The Fast for Forests is a five day event that aims to find deeper understanding into the difficulties that forest conservationists and government bodies face in trying to resolve the issue of logging of remaining native forests of New South Wales. All are welcome. Speakers, musicians, artists, performers, meditators, religious leaders...and of course fasters. Each day will have a different theme.
While a few people will fast, many more are welcome to come and participate in any of the events listed below.
DAY ONE : OPENING - Speakers and Media Conference. Begin Fast with opening circle. Invite Traditional Owners to join us and help initiate the event and sense of place. Set up the Chaelundi Forest Protection Recruitment Office table.
DAY TWO - CREATIVE INSPIRATION DAY including music, poetry, performance and sounds of the forest. Sign up now.
DAY THREE - ENDANGERED SPECIES PARTY - Quoll, Glider, Koala, and Masked Owl will lead the way, arriving on the PeaceBus. Maybe Stumpy will be able to join them. Speeches on the plight of endangered species.
DAY FOUR - DEEP REFLECTION. This day is dedicated to looking for deeper insight into the conflict surrounding the remaining native forests of New South Wales. Regardless of position on this issue, local peace groups, spiritual groups, buddhist groups, are invited to come together for a day of meditation, walking meditation, prayer, chanting. Evening Prayer Vigil. (Please help us to contact groups in Coffs Harbour such as yoga, falun gong, peace, tai-chi, buddhist. )
DAY FIVE - CHAELUNDI CELEBRATION AND PARADE - Compartment 193, one of the Chaelundi compartments that has been in a moratorium status for 10 years is now scheduled for logging in mid August. We invite all veterans of Chaelundi to join us for a parade through the streets of Coffs Harbour. This will be followed by a street party DJed by Dart. End fast at 5PM or continue...
Daily walks for reflection at 8:30AM and 5:30PM through Coffs Harbour. Daily morning study circle of M.K. Ghandi's Experiments with Truth (see below).
Please bring cushions, musical instruments, banners etc.
If you are interested in contributing ideas, talent or energy towards this,please contact Ruth at (02) 66213294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rainforest Information Centre/North East Forest Alliance
www.rainforestinfo.org.au ~~ www.nefa.org.au
Rainforest Information Centre
Box 368, Lismore 2480 NSW
Gandhi on Fasting
"Satyagraha, as I have endeavored to explain at several meetings, is essentially a religious movement. It is a process of purification and penance. It seeks to secure reforms or redress of grievances by self-suffering."
"This fast is not a show but a sincere prayer to the Almighty that we may receive proper strength and proper wisdom in going through these struggles."
"The fast is not to be regarded, in any shape or form, in the nature of a hunger strike, or as designed to put any pressure upon the Government. It is to be, for the satyagrahis, as the necessary discipline to fit them for civil disobedience, contemplated in their pledge, and for all others, as some slight token of the intensity of their wounded feelings."
"It will not be an idle prayer but it is by the force of satyagraha and I assure you that if many of us approach this struggle in a proper and becoming spirit, we can have the legislation destroyed in a short space of time. I hope that God will give you sufficient strength for this doctrine of self-suffering.
"Fasting for the purpose of showing one's displeasure or disappointment can hardly be justified. Its basis must be penance or purification."
"You cannot fast against tyrant, for it will be as a piece of violence done to him. You invite penalty from him for disobedience of his orders, but you cannot inflict on yourself penalties when he refuses to punish and renders it impossible for you to disobey his orders so as to compel infliction of penalty.
Fasting can only be resorted to against a lover, not to extort rights but to reform him, as when a son fasts for a parent who drinks."
"Satyagraha implies absolute love and nonviolence. Fasting as a weapon can only be used against a lover, a friend, a follower or co-worker who, on account of his love for you and the sufferings you undergo actually, realizes his mistake and corrects himself. He purifies himself of an evil that he knows and acknowledges being an evil. you recall him from his evil ways to the correct path."
"We have no right by fasts to convert people to our ideals. That would be a species of violence. But it is our duty to strengthen by fasting those who hold the same ideals, but are likely to weaken under pressure."
Media Release 9 August 2002
Peacebus.com backs Fast for Forests
Coffs Harbour 12-16 August
Ruth Rosenhek and her fellow fasters will be supported by Peacebus and its flags and banners at the Fast for the Forest action outside the NSW Forestry office at Coffs Harbour Jetty, Monday 12 through to Friday 16 August 2002.
The fasters are undergoing a Ghandian style austerities so that they may go deeper in the spiritual search was the causes of the ongoing conflict between loggers and conservationists.
"We are facing a new and intensified period of forest conflict˛, warns Peacebus organiser, Graeme Dunstan. łTen years of negotiating forest agreements has left the conservationist feeling betrayed."
"The Carr government has not made adequate habitat provisions for endangered species and forests such Chaelundi which were fought for 10 years ago are now scheduled for logging".
Extinction is forever.
"Peacebus will be supporting the fasters in their search for pathways to peace," he said.
Photo opportunity. The fasters will be available to media folk and the banner display will be in position at
11 am Monday 12 August
Forestry Office, High Street, Coffs Harbour Jetty.
Ruth Rosenhek, Rainforest Information Centre (02) 66213294
Graeme Dunstan, Peacebus.com 0412 609 373