Fellow Shoalwater 5 member Sarah Williams just sent this through…absolutely brilliant.
I dream of a day when the story that is told in the news is not about missing persons, arrests, indecent exposure or billion dollar war ships. I dream of a day when the stories that are told are of the brave people who gathered for the Peace Convergence in June 2007 to protest Operation Talisman Sabre where approx 26,000 U.S. and Australian troops practiced for war in Shoalwater Bay, QLD. Their message was very simple but profound: “We want to live in a world of peace and not war.”
The stories not told are those of the people willing to step over the line saying we do not accept your barbwire fences, your blank faces and your lies about sovereignty. The stories not told are of a young man who was arrested for doing the hokey pokey;
A couple of young lovers exposing their nakedness and their humanity declaring love not war;
A story of whole communities in their diversity working together for a common goal;
A group of seven comrades prepared to risk their lives whilst camping in pristine national park, which happens to be military training ground the size of Belgium;
Another group who do what Australians love most – spending time at the beach;
A group of five Christian activists who walked down Samuel Hill tarmac wanting to play peace games not war games;
Stories of thousands marching together in colour and slendour to the beat of a different drum;
Independent media who follow their hearts in living for the truth;
Stories of strong women leaders from the Darumbal people (indigenous tribe of the area), from Hawaii and Guam who tell tales of what the U.S. bases have done in their countries;
Of a photographer who continues to be persecuted for taking photographs of deformed children from the effects of the Gulf War;
The forgotten people who really are heroes.
Australia needs to wake up from its comfort and lives lived in fear and start opening up our hearts to the atrocities that go on every day in this world even in our own backyard. We need to ask the question: “Does our affluence fuel our apathy?” We need to say no to that plasma screen, a new flashy car and yes to our neighbours who are dying everyday in unnecessary wars. Our governments need to start operating under true democracy where people have freedom of speech and a right to stand up for what they believe in.
Sadly, these stories will not be told because of big dollars and control. I was one of the five who was voluntarily arrested on Samuel Hill airbase on the 21st June. I walked down the tarmac with four other Christian activists armed with a peace flag, a Frisbee, two letters for the U.S. and Australian and the hope for dialogue. Before we were finally taken by police we enjoyed many in depth conversations with military personnel who shared their inner feelings about the Iraq war and what they saw there (e.g. use of depleted uranium and its effects). We got to share about our concerns for their lives and civilian’s lives and about our worry over the environmental effects that war and these games have. To my utter disbelief the hypothetical mission for the day at the games was in regards to potential “terrorists” coming into the country to destroy what is ours. We pointed out to them that we could have been those “terrorists” and just because we are Aussies does not mean we were not capable. We were just everyday Australians armed with another message: Love at all costs! As we were driven out I saw tanks and soldiers scattered all throughout the bush that had cease-fired as the base was closed whilst we were on the grounds. That day our concerns for our friend’s safety that were still on the base went to parliament, as no one believed it was possible. To me it was worth it just to have the conversation we wouldn’t have had whilst we were kept in silence. Please don’t silence it anymore!
As all the protesters go home the local are left with the night sky blaring, the sound of bombing, their homes shaking and the real threat that because this base is located where it is they will be a likely target. These exercises this year will continue until the 2nd July and will go on every two years for the next twenty years or so. Australia continues to spend $55 million a day on its military whilst where I live in Doveton, Victoria many social problems are unaddressed and experienced daily such as lack of affordable housing, social isolation, mental health issues, lack of education to name a few.
For more information please contact:
For our press release (June 21st, 2007) please look at the link “Activists Still Inside War Games Zone, More Go In: Press Conference in Action.” http://www.peaceconvergence.com/news/25
Sarah Williams – 0418 146 601