Day by day for Peace blog of the 2009 Yeppoon-Rockhampton Peace Convergence,

Monday 13 July 2009

The sky is blue, the sun is warm, cool breezes blow in from Keppel Islands. I am camped beside Martin Luther King House, a non descript plastic cladded holiday rental in the beach-burb of Bangalee north of Yeppoon.

Another day in paradise. Perfect except that just up the road the US military is bombing it.

Today begins the live fire part of the Talsiman Sabre war games. In the days before we have been doing symbolic public presence actions in Rockhampton and environs. Now our resistance begins in earnest; lives on the line.

Martin Luther King House is at present empty, its Christian peace activists on duty elsewhere.

Last night four of them, Simon Moyle, Margaret Prestorus (both of Cairns), Jarrad McInna (Perth) and Jessica Morrison (Melbourne) walked onto the Shoalhaven Bay 'test facility" determined to conceal themselves there for the duration of the exercises.

More such trespassing is to be expected as other bush walking peace activists are inspired to join them. With a 90 km perimeter along the Bruce Highway no way can police patrols prevent them.

The group are calling themselves the "Boenhoeffer Four" after the German Lutheran pastor who acting in Christian principle, resisted the Nazis and perished for his principles. He famously said - and this from their media release:

"The church has three possible ways it can act against the State. First, it can ask the State if its actions are legitimate. Second, it can aid the victims of the State action... The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself."

Boenhoffer is Rudd's professed Christian hero and this elegant action confronts both Rudd's credibility as a Christian and the legitimacy of war games. Jamming the spokes of the war machine indeed.

Before the war games War Minister Faulkner told the Parliament that the war games would be halted if they was any risk of injury. Now we will see.

Other members of the temporary houshold are in Rockhampton to do media work and collect Ciaron O'Reilly and Jim Dowlings, two other residents of MLK House, who have been been released from the Rockhampton Watch House after 5 days. It's a grand old tradition: holding out for peace and bearing witness from within prisons walls. Good on 'em

The Rocky reception party took some of the poles and flags to array outside the Watch House. All good colour and media.

Flags, banners and lanterns I have been my active occupation with for the past few days; flag, banner and lantern arrays were installed outside the Rockhampton Barracks for the vigil of last Saturday evening, a host of flags were carried in the Yeppoon Peace Parade on Sunday and arrayed at the Peace Concert by the Bay which followed.

Photos by Graeme Dunstan

The Yeppoon Parade and Concert were about a third of the number of the 2007 and there has been much comment and debate about the waning of the peace movement in this time.

I have been outspoken about the Australian public being lulled into complacency by the Rudd/Obama elections. "The politics of hope" i call it. The opium of passivity for the Tv watching classes. I caused some upset when i got up in the public meeting in Rockhampton on Friday evening and was passionate in my call to rid ourselves as hope.

"When it comes to peace, forget Rudd, forget Obama, forget hope - remove the word from your lexicon. All have betrayed the people's desire for peace", I said waving my hands and moving about like an agitated street crazy. "They are not going to bring us peace."

In fact the opposite. Rudd has upped Howard's military Ozzie tax heist  by 13%. Obama's first action on US military expenditure was to ram through Congress a bill giving an extra $106 billion and 17,000 troops for the Iraq/Afghan/Pakistan wars.

Rather than hope, act! 

Be fearless and hopeless like the great peace makers who have gone before.

Jesus walked towards his cruxification from the day he took first steps. Gandhi and Martin Luther King likewise to an assassin's bullet.

This is how Milarepa (16 century Tibetan saint) said it:

"Like a lion I have no fear.
Like an elephant I have no anxiety.
Like a madman I have no pretension,
and no hope!"

For peace.

For the Earth.

To the dust.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Early this morning a small group of Christian peace activists set up a blockade on one of the access roads to the Shoalwater Bay war games, the so called Green Gate.

They strung a banner across the road. It read: "In the name of God stop the wars +". Two knelt before it holding placards: "War is terror is war" and "End the war in Afghanistan". The support crew stood by bearing witness with video cameras.

As Divine Providence would have it, they did not have to wait long. A convoy of 5 semitrailers carrying Yankee Humvees and Jeeps, two and three a piece, came along.

Photos by Simon Moyle

The blockade remained in place for 90 minutes before the Rockhampton police came and directed the protesters to move. Ciaron O'Reilly and Jim Dowling chose to be arrested.

Later in Rockhampton Court they were taken before a magistrate who offered unrestricted bail but Ciaorn and Jim refused to take bail choosing rather to stay in prison for the duration of the Talisman Sabre war games.

Footage of the action was played on WIN regional Tv news tonight. ABC Radio carried it briefly.

Bryan Law of Peace by Peace organised the action and acted as police liaison. See his blog report.

Good on Ciaron and Jim! Their incarceration will be a running sore of a story during the rest of the war and peace games.

All excellent promotion for the weekend actions coming up: a public forum in Yeppoon Civic Centre tomorrow night, a Candle and Lantern lit vigil at the gates of the Rockhampton Army Barracks on Saturday and a Peace Parade and concert on the Yeppoon foreshore on Sunday.

Blessed are the peace makers.

Friday 10 July 2009

Being here at Peace Convergence not so much exciting as enheartening; and also labour intensive.

This from the NAIDOC Day Community Expo in Callum Park, Rockhampton. Maybe 600 local Murris with a main stage and a festival ground defined by a perimeter of about 25 stalls representing various agencies and service providers to the local Aboriginal community including cops and prisons. Great music, great day.

Most of the crowd had assembled at the Town Hall and marched across the CBD and the bridge. I put out ten Nimbin/koori flags and their height and colour had a major visual impact on both the parade and the fair. The kids and adults carried them with pride. The crowd and the organisers have been vocal in gratitude. A collective cheer in appreciation indeed

Photos by Chris Ison

Koori/green flags crossing the bridge over the Buredkin River in the Rockhampton NAIDOC Day Parade and decorating the Main Stage of the NAIDOC Community Expo in Callum Park.

I had spent two days previous head down painting those flags with fabric ink; the red and yellow had faded from days of exposure in the Canberra sun at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

I painted them in the front yard of Martin Luther King House in Bangalee, a non-descript, cream-coloured, plastic-cladded holiday rental. I painted them rigged and then put them up to dry.

With the flags and my van out the front we were no longer a covert den of activists plotting the overthrow of the US Alliance. To the contrary we were overt and got noticed. Passing local residents pulled over, stopped and got out for a chat. Lots of goodwill. Nary an accusation of Hatebus there.

Lots of goodwill from the cops too. When i arrived at the Town Hall to put out the flags this morning, i was warmly greeted by a plainclothes AFP officer from Protective Security. His name was Mick and he had been told by his boss in Canberra, Team Leader Stephen Uhe, to watch out for me and say hello.

We posed together against the "Detach from Tryanny/End the US Alliance" mural for a photo on his mobile which he sent at once to Canberra. Surviellance by friends!

He asked me what i was going to do with my "End the Terror/Sack Keelty/Cuff the AFP" murals. I replied that i wanted to offer them to Keelty to put on the wall of his den. Mick cracked up and said he would tell Keelty if he happened to pass him on the stairs.

The Regional Commander Superintendent Murray (?), (all first names), also introduced himself with a smile and chatted like an old mate.

Moral dilemma. Ciaron, the arrestee from the blockade action of yesterday has refused bail and is being held in the Rockie Watchhouse. The magistrate is refusing to sign prison transfer orders.

But Ciaron's elderly father in Brisbane has a had a stroke and his condition is critical. The Superintendent, for compassionate reasons, reckons Ciaron ought get out of jail and go to his father. It would be my advice to Ciaron too.

As i write Bryan Law, of Cairns Blog and the organiser of Martin Luther King House, has gone off with police liaison to the Watchhouse, bearing fresh clothes and toothbrush, to talk it through with Ciaron.

I suggested a prisoner exchange, me as a substitute for Ciaron. No takers from the cops at this time.

But i am happy to be sitting a park, writing to you while a mob of Murris have a good time nearby.

Tonight a public meeting, a speak out against Talisman Sabre, in Rockie to dress with flags and banners.

We do best we can.

For peace.

Graeme Dunstan 10 July 2009

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Doing best we can. For peace! For justice!
For the Earth!

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