CCTV footage of Bonhoeffer Peace Collective (Swan Island)

Here’s the video of Jess and I we obtained through the police evidence brief. The first bit is quite jumpy – it’s all just stop motion photos, and they’ve obviously cut quite a lot of the footage out because we just end up next to the dish and then move away again.

Anyway, in case there was any doubt we were there:

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Date for action: Hit the ’emergency stop’ button on the Afghanistan war

Here’s your invitation to hit the ’emergency stop’ button on the war in Afghanistan!

In the week before Easter 2010 the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective went to the Swan Island Military base to press the emergency stop button on the war in Afghanistan. They face Geelong Magistrates Court on Wednesday June 16th and would love you to join them in a celebration of active, vibrant resistance to war on that day.

We will meet at Johnstone Park (Railway Terrace, opposite Geelong Magistrates court) at 9am and then process to the court.  Please bring your own lunch.

After court the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective will invite you to join them in returning to the gates of Swan Island, at Queenscliff. Swan Island is a training base for Australia’s elite SAS soldiers, who are playing the most active combat role for Australia in Afghanistan. We will meet at 2pm at the park opposite Bridge St in Queenscliff before processing together to the gate of the island.  There you will be given the opportunity to refuse continued warmaking on the people of Afghanistan by stepping onto the prohibited land (thereby risking arrest), or to participate in a peaceful, nonarrestable demonstration at the gate.

We will hold a briefing/information/nonviolence session for those who wish to participate in either arrestable or nonarrestable actions on Saturday June 5th from 1-4pm at the Den, 116 Little Bourke St Melbourne.  Please let us know if you will be at this session, or if you’d like to be but cannot make it that day.

So this is an invitation for you to consider being involved in these acts of nonviolent resistance to war.  If you could indicate a) your interest in being involved (either by emailing Simon at smoyle[at]gmail.com or RSVPing to the event) and b) whether you would like some preparatory briefing as soon as possible, that will help us plan logistics, and set up communication and support.  And of course please pass this on to anyone else you know who might be interested.

With thanks for all you do to make this world a more compassionate place,

Simon Moyle on behalf of Jacob Bolton, Jessica Morrison, Simon Reeves and the rest of the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective.

Swanhoeffer 4

Some articles on our Swan Island action for those interested…

The Age

Geelong Advertiser – articles one and two.

Indymedia Australia – articles one and two.

Indymedia World

Indymedia Luxembourg

Ekklesia

And now this page on Swan Island.

*edit* I also had a piece published in New Matilda.  Join in the discussion.

On Public Relations Theory vs Nonviolence Theory (a post by Margaret Pestorius)

This is a post by my friend and fellow Bon 4 member Margaret Pestorius, clearing up some misconceptions about why we act the way we do.

There are two sets of assumptions that seem to underpin a lot of criticism regarding small group nonviolent DIRECT actions:

First: Assumptions related to Motivation for Actions

Assumptions related to motivation for action: These are commonly held assumptions that we frequently encounter as nonviolent activists. But I think they say more about the holder of those assumptions and mainstream media and society than they do about our actual motivations.

One has to sit a bit outside the mainstream media mindset to understand another way of seeing.

The primary motivation for principled nonviolent action is first always to “ACT” or “take action” or “to do SOMETHING rather than NOTHING”. Gandhi even inferred that it sometimes may be best to do something violent or harmful rather than nothing at all.

For the prime actor, it is important for them, for their human spirit, that they act rather than do nothing. [There is also an associated Christological perspective to this central idea of human action that I won’t go into here.]

Movements, then, are built on people’s responses to ACTION – not on people’s responses to OPINIONS.

Opinions rarely move people to action or change. There are too many opinions around and they are not sufficiently embodied to draw people into a change process. Opinions are also open to corruption before enactment.

Media attention for the nonviolence actor therefore is always at least a secondary effect [if not tertiary]. Media is relevant however to the extent that it has the added advantage that it protects [nonviolent actions generally draw some level of repression – think twitter and Iran].

AND media can give extra people a space to encounter the nonviolent ACTION. [Which is always a good thing.] Some people will be part of the action [the actor, the objects and the direct witnesses], however some people will be secondary witnesses. These people are valuable but are not OUR sole or primary focus as has been frequently incorrectly presumed.

The assumptions about being focussed on the media outcomes [or “seeking media attention” as it is derogatorily put], I consider, is related to people’s own beliefs about how change occurs.

Many people who share this lens are influenced by the frameworks and techniquest of public relations theory.

Public relations theory is NOT a preferred understanding for myself or Bryan as it is limited in its social justice perspective [it has none].

Nonviolent action has a social justice perspective that is clearly spelled out – it tends towards inclusivity in process and political outcome [necessary for democracy]: the old, young, sick, disabled can be and are involved; people who are not “opinion leaders” can be heard; people who are excluded from or don’t wish to be part of corrupt political parties can take action. Nonviolent action based in social justice is frequently adopted by the most marginalised of a society.

Assumptions about Fines and Activist Responses to the State

There seems to be some confusion regarding payment of fines. Again our actions are set in a theoretical framework. [and theory is just the gathering of lots of nonviolence experiences regarding what works and why people do different sorts of nonviolent actions]

Nonviolence theory places the issue of court fines in the realm of State repression [the responses of the State when/as it tries to stop you doing something].. so it becomes an issue of

1.. how one addresses first a particular injustice . and then

2.. how one responds to [we say ‘resists’] the repression that the actor faces when the State tries and stops the action.

There is an extensive literature around nonviolence theory which can be consulted further. However, Bryan [and I] do NOT pay fines where possible. To pay a fine is to say “oh, OK, you can stop us and we will go along with your response in stopping us”.

Nonviolent activists tend to resist the State as it attempts to limit the actions taken. We refuse bail conditions [e.g. “you shan’t go back to the site of the action”] where possible and we refuse to pay fines where possible, sometimes this means going to jail.

Bryan will most likely do community service for a change agency of some kind or another.

Here are a couple of links: have fun!

http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/understanding/WhyNV/WhyNonviolence1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolence the wiki page is as good as any!

8 years too long – end the war in Afghanistan! Melbourne reportback

07102009(001)On Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th October, the two days that represented the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan (it was the 7th in Afghanistan and the early hours of the 8th here in Australia), a group of concerned people gathered at Flinders St Station in Melbourne to remember, mourn and be inspired towards further action against the war.  We held a striking banner which read ‘End the Afghanistan War’ and maintained a presence for 10 hours each day, from 8am until 6pm.  At least 25 people joined us throughout the two days, including a war veteran from Stand Fast and the head of the Victorian Council of Churches Theo Mackay.

We began by reading out loud the names of some of those who had been killed in the course of this conflict, Afghani civilians, as well as US and Australian soldiers.  We handed out flyers with 8 reasons to end the war, as well as promotional material for the antiwar rally on Saturday (12pm City Square).  There was a petition people were encouraged to sign to end the war.  We also wrote the names of those on both sides who had been killed in the letters on the banner.

Perhaps the most significant part for me was the sense of vigilling (watching/ vigilance) at a place where around 10-15,000 Melbournians pass every day (a prime piece of real estate for advertising!).  Both people’s reactions or lack of reactions to our banner message were a good indication of the Australian public’s general disengagement with the war.  Many of those we talked with, whether they were supportive of us or not, had a very shallow understanding of what was happening over there or why we might be involved.  I had only one conversation in the whole 20 hours we were there with someone who confidently had a grasp on what was happening.  I don’t say these things pessimistically or despairingly, but in order to give a realistic appraisal of where we are at the moment, so we can better define the tasks ahead of us.07102009(007)

Some significant conversations:

·    An Afghani guy who had his throat slashed from ear to ear by the Taliban.  He had been here for two days and couldn’t talk due to his injuries, but the Air Force officer he was with who had helped him escape the country was adamant that the war be escalated to kill all of the Taliban.
·    A woman who despaired of social justice but when I mentioned I was a Baptist Minister asked the usual question (“do you know Tim Costello?”) and when I said I did, her response was “Well, thank God that the Baptists are doing something for the world instead of just preaching and getting fat!”
·    A long and constructive conversation with a foreign policy student where we managed to work out we agreed on everything except the efficacy of violence in creating stability.  It was the most helpful conversation I had because he understood the complexities and we got through a number of layers of assumptions to our real differences quickly, effectively and respectfully.

On Thursda08102009(019)y afternoon we walked the 1km down the road to Victoria Barracks, historically the most significant symbol of militarism in Melbourne as it was the site of much of Australian military strategy in WW2 (it also happened to be my grandfather’s workplace for 35 years, as a career soldier).  Three friends (Jacob Grech, Liz Turner and James Brennan) whitewashed the bluestone wall at the entrance to symbolise the whitewashing of the AfPak war.  They wrote “White wash,” “troops out” and “8 years is too long” several times across the bluestone wall before police arrived 20 minutes later.  Looking bemused, they determined the whitewash would come off and let them go without charge or arrest after taking their names (I think the police even told Vic Barracks to wash it off!).  The rest of us stood with the banner for the few media who gathered to record the whitewashing action.  All three did a great job of speaking to the media about why they were doing it.

To me it worked really well having the balance between the long presence of the vigil and the short but edgier direct action of the whitewash.  Raising tension seems to be important, but so does having a legitimate, regular, visible presence.

Suggestions for improvement:

·    I think we could have made more effort to connect with the Afghani community.
·    Reading the names of the dead in that space didn’t work very well.  Or it worked well for us, but it made engaging with people difficult.
·    Having interactive elements worked really well – people came and signed the banner, and the petition, and even handing out flyers gave us direct engagement.  It’s a busy space but very dynamic with thousands of people seeing the message every day.
·    Having a visible, clear, antiwar presence was really important on an issue that is mostly “out of sight, out of mind.”  I think we need to do this more often in a way that we can sustain going forward.
·    Having suggestions for how people can get involved is difficult.  But enough people asked to think harder about it in future.
·    There is such a lack of tension that I think part of going forward should be about building a movement that can escalate the tension by regular, sustained direct actions.

I want to thank all of those who participated in the vigil and whitewashing action, and encourage us to make this a new beginning which will spur us forward to deeper anti-war engagement.

More photos here.

Upcoming events

A couple of things coming up that I’m involved in:

Pax Christi Victoria Inc.

International Christian Peace Movement

You are invited to an extended Agape

– a Workshop on the spirituality and practice of nonviolence

Simon Moyle, will lead us in an Easter journey into how we can engage with the Powers and the Powerful in the light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

-through Bible Study
– Nonviolence theory
– Workshop activity
– Group discussion.

“Another world is possible, another world is necessary,another world is already HERE!”

Simon Moyle is a Baptist minister and theologian,
He is Public Engagement Coordinator of Urban Seed,a community who work with some of the city’s poorest and most marginalised.”
He has been involved in nonviolent protest against the Talisman Sabre Joint Military Exercises.

Sunday April 19

at Kildara, rear 39 Stanhope Street, East Malvern.

2 p.m (Note extended time)
We will finish after a SHARED MEAL  around 7.30 p.m.

Please BRING SOME FOOD TO SHARE

ALL WELCOME

And then this NVDA training for TS09 (but all welcome).