Friday, February 15, 2008

What was all that about then? The Rise & Demise of the Anti-War Movement! Where to Now Then?

A great little article by my mate Ciaron O'Reilly, who has raised that scary topic most of us seem unwilling to discuss - millions marched, yet the war went on ahead regardless. The where to now is particular good reading...

by Ciaron O'Reilly Pitstop Ploughshares/ Catholic Worker


It's five years on since millions marched against the invasion of Iraq.

Today, the war escalates in Iraq & Afghanistan and expands into Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, northern Pakistan and maybe soon Iran. Irish complicity is as deep as ever as Shannon Airport remains the major pitstop for U.S. troops getting from North America to the theatres of war.

The once anti-war Green Party has morphed into an Irish government betraying Irish neutrality and facilitating U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile the anti-war movement that was taken for a ride by the mainstream opposition parties, the authorirtarian left and moderate NGO's has all but disappeared from the streets.

On Feb 15th. 03 I was sharing a Limerick prison cell with a young seminarian, Damien Moran, where we watching the Sky live feed from London of 1-2 million folks marching in the streets aginst the war. Meanwhile 150,000+ were marching in Ireland. Our co-defendants Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop & Karen Fallon were in the women's section of Limerick Prison. We had helped to pull off the most disruptive action to U.S. military deployment www.peaceontrial.com (a bit like winning the Eurovision...there wasn't a lot of NVDA competition from a timid, soon to evaporate, anti-war movement)..causing one U.S. war plane to turn around and return to Texas unable to contribute to the war effort. Also in response to our action, 4 U.S. companies, transporting U.S. troops to war, abandoned Ireland as a secure place to refuel. Although we we were in an Irish prison for this nonviolent resistance to war, any mention of it was censored by the Feb 15th. Dublin rally organisers.

An interesting article on the demise of the anti-war movement appears in today's The Guardian G2 section cover titled "15.02.03 Millions Marched Did it Change Anything?". Inside the zine it is entitiled "The Day Politics Stopped Working" by John Harte stimulates reflection on waht led to the demise of a massive anti-war movement during an unpopular war that escalates and expands...http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/15/iraq

Where to now for the anti war movement (to be honest remnant!) in brief.....

1) We have to make the massive passive anti-war opinion visible. People who are serious about opposing the war should make that opinion visible for an hour a week with a sign in the street. See link.....http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85865

2) If 1% of those who marched against this war had gone in tho serious nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Gandhi and King...resisted until jailed...we could have stopped this war. If the other 99% who had marched against this war had done serious proactive solidarity with the movement's imprisoned resisters ...helped feed the cat, paid the rent, dealt with the hysterical parents.....we would have have a mass movement still active and visible. Such solidarity is contrary to what happened in Ireland, at the time, when the Feb 15 Dublin rally organisers blanked the imprisoned anti-war resisters and did little as they went to trials etc. Why?..... because a lot of the anti-war leadership were not serous about resisitng Irish complicity in the war, they saw the war as a marketing/ media profile opportunity. Noting more, nothing less!

3) We need to support those who are presently before the courts, in prisons and brigs for nonviolently resisting this war.I've been living in London for 3 months now and have seen no mention of the Raytheon 9. 3 of the 9 are SWP members. The SWP pretty much run the "Stop the War Coalition" and are well placed to promote this trial. Why the silence? Is it an anti-Irish prejudice? Is it an anti-NVDA party policy. Dunno? Go figure?A few weeks ago there was a "Stop the War Coalition" demo in Stoke Newington. I made up a sign "Disable the War Machine! Free the Raytheon 9! www.raytheon9.org " I stood there for two hours not one SWP member asked me about the 9....these are 3 of there party members looking at years in jail, go figure?

Anyways there are folks resisting the war. I'd encourage you to make contact with them

Raytheon 9 - Disabling Raytheon Equipment in Derry During the Bombing of Lebanonwww.raytheon9.org

Anti-Torture Training Resisters Arrested at Ft. Huachuca in Arizonawww.tortureontrial.org

Pine Gap 4 - Citizens' Inspection of U.S. N.S.A. Base in Alice Springs, Australiawww.pinegap6.org

U.S. Military Resistershttp://www.couragetoresist.org/x/

Related Link http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/15/iraq
Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On this historic day



We pay tribute to the courageous souls of the Pine Gap4 and pray for them during this time.


musings on their arrest...


Wednesday 13th February is now a historic day. Australia said ‘sorry’ to the stolen generation of indigenous Australians. On this day, Australia has admitted its past mistakes, its past injustices and committed to a new future of restoring that which was taken and damaged. What a beautiful day to share and be an Australian. Yet, also this day is a sad day to share and be an Australian. For in the same day, under the same rising sun, Australia fails to learn from history and continues past mistakes as we imprison the Pine Gap 4. The Pine Gap 4 are four Australian nonviolent activists (Christians Against All Terrorism) whose voice cries out in the wilderness (literally the wilderness) highlighting the injustice of our devastating involvement in the killing of many generations of Iraqi’s and Afghani’s. Of particular concern to these peace activists is the significance of the Pine Gap Military Spy Base, 20kms from Alice Springs.

We all know the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unfortunate, some of us even believe them to be terrible and like our forebearers who instituted horrific policies straying close to genocide of indigenous Australians, we too share the shame of our current policies that appear to bring life to other peoples, but in reality bring the opposite. Just in Iraq, it is estimated that over 1 million Iraqi’s have died since the invasion (http://www.justforeignpolicy.com/), through weapons, chemicals, bombs and missiles. Australia’s Pine Gap Military Spy Base is been found to be responsible for directing on whom those missiles fall. Below is an excerpt from reflections by Bryan Law one of the Pine Gap4 about his action.

“We’ve found out a lot more about what Pine Gap is and does. It’s a gleaming high tech machine being used for some of the darkest and most insane (demonic) military activity/terror on our planet. Read this US document to get a picture of what Pine gap contributes to. http://space.au.af.mil/stratcom/spacemissions.htm You’ll find Pine Gap’s functions under “Space Force Enhancements” . “Space assets have provided key support to coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, the most digitally intensive conflict ever, with virtually every military platform linked by satellite. Military satellites help choose bomb targets, guide precision munitions, provide weather reports, warn of missile launches, let commanders talk to one another, and allow soldiers to pinpoint their position”. Pine Gap makes a much more vital contribution to US warfighting than any amount of combat troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Thus, in December 2005 the Christians Against All Terrorism decided to conduct a concerned citizen’s inspection of this facility. They were arrested and charged under Defence Special Undertakings Act (1952), and had the honour of being the first people charged under this special Act since its inception some fifty years prior. Why is a question that springs to mind? At their trial, prosecution fought for jail time, but the trial judge gave them fines. The State appealed this sentence and at the same time ironically issued arrest warrents for the non payment of these fines. Bravely, the four headed to Darwin to face their jail time. On Wednesday 13th February, they were taken in and with the upcoming appeal attempting to place them in jail for an unspecified amount of time they are unsure when they will be coming out.

For Bryan spiritually his focus has been on the Sermon on the Mount, and its call to love our enemies. This Sermon by Jesus includes such statements as:

Blessed are the peacemakersfor they shall be called children of GodBlessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness sake,for theirs is the kingdom of HeavenIndeed the Pine Gap 4 are suffering persecution by the State and others, and indeed it is for righteousness sake. After all how righteous it is to cry out ‘stop the wars’, ‘end Australia’s involvement through Pine Gap’, ‘stop the killing of other humans’ and so forth. These are righteous statements. It is even more righteous to be willing as the Pine Gap 4 have been, to put their words into actions and in the nature of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Jesus to be willing to put their very lives on the line. Would it be that we could all do the same. Maybe we could see these wars abolished. The actions of the Pine Gap 4 say, that it is possible. If enough people are willing to do what is right, to take on suffering and persecution a world without war could exist. If only a nation like Australia could possibly learn to never kill again! If only we could, in our own hearts learn to forgive one anther and especially our enemies. Here is where violence starts and where it ends – with all of us individually.

Our silence has made all Australian’s complicit to murder in Iraq and Afghanistan. We, once again must step up and admit our injustice, immediately begin to seek forgiveness and to heal our mistakes. As we say sorry to indigenous Australia, we have proven that as a nation that we are capable of fulfilling our humanity. Let us continue to pursue our humanity and whether its working together with indigenous Australia towards healing past wrongs or joining those who are calling to end Australia’s involvement war and killing in other countries. Let us all take up one or two projects of peace and justice. Let us all stand true. And let us all be ready to suffer persecution in the name of justice.

Christians Against ALL Terrorism are going back to the sacred compound at Pine Gap on ANZAC Day 2008. There’ll be solidarity actions in Australia and New Zealand. You can join them. Check out http://www.pinegap6.org/

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Have You Seen This Ship?


As you read this blog the Queen of the Netherlands slowly is dredging our Bay. Is this good or is this bad? Most people I speak to say this is good.


- After all isn't it only removing a layer of sand from the bottom of the bay and moving it somewhere else?


- Isn't it going to be great for our economy?


- Our port needs to keep up with the growing economy, we need bigger ships to come here.

As usual, it is necessary to hear both sides before forming opinions. Let's hear the other side :

Only a few of the worlds oversized ships will be able to use this new deepened port - 14 metre draught container vessels and oil tankers with a bit more load.

Over 100 species of sponge exist here that occur nowhere else in the World.

The Bay's eco system (of seals, penguins, whales, sharks, and thousands of marine plants and creatures) functions much like a lake and requires a high degree of sunlight in order to survive. Dedgeing will reduce visibility dramatically.




















Nitrogen balance is also very importance and is maintained by seafloor organisms (benthic)









Yarra dredging will affect anchovy levels. The penguins of Phillip Island rely on eating anchovy





Risks to human health haven't been adequatly addressed as 4 million m3 of Yarra sediment contain heavy metals like arsenic - which will be dumped into the bay. Swimming and eating fish from the bay will become a concern



Studies indicate that by 2035 trade will have quadrupled in the port regardless of channel deepening

Fishing in the bay already contributes $1 billion a year. This is 10 times more than the channel deepening will produce. It has also been admitted that fish stocks will be affected.

Best channel deepening estimates for the economy will yield only $1.9 billion by 2035. $70million per year - equivalent to the current dive industry "(and you realise why I say current).

I could go on...

Needless to say, I believe channel deepening to be not good at all. In fact maybe even disgraceful that we are allowing a few rich people with big ships dictate to us what we need and in the process destroying the environment. Furthermore, do we even need more 'stuff' to be shipped in from other countries like China?

I say simply. WE MUST WORK WITH THE EARTH AND NOT AGAINST IT (capitals not to be angry but to state clearly my overall problem with channel deepening). This is a simple thought that not only will see the world we live in cared for, but it may even yield greater opportunities for growth.



Lets work with this...not against it. There are alternatives. Check out this website fore more details.

http://www.bluewedges.org/




Check out this website for actions
http://www.operationquarrantine.com/

and for a good news story (with my mate carey priest getting a say too!)

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23177810-2862,00.html

People say the protestors pictured here were putting themselves in danger. Ironic, no one mentions the danger that ship is doing...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sides of the River

We often talk about the gap between the rich and the poor and we all know of its realities. And sometimes we go to places in the world where the gap seems to lie starkly naked. We were meet with such a place in Vietnam on the Mekong Delta. Literally one side of the river was rich an the poor (you’ll have to forgive my blatent generalizations of rich and poor – this is also something learnt in Vietnam and shall share my thoughts on this later, but to benefit this blog I generalize). For affluent western tourists (yep, like ourselves!), big business owners, corporations like the ones riding the backs of the poor – this side of the bank was theirs.



For the other side of the river, an amazing array of homes piled ontop of one another, made from whatever can be found. This is the side of the river where the majority of people of Vietnam live.

I did not spend much time on either side of the river – mostly we floated on down the middle, so I cannot say much more about this divide except that neither side of the river should be the world over. For the poor, poverty is terrible. No one who is truly poor wants to be poor. It is a harsh life full of difficulties to overcome. We shouldn’t idealise the poor or seek to glorify the poor. Same goes for the affluent. Accumulating and hoarding loads of money/possessions is not the way. What’s more is that this accumulation and hoarding is in reality stealing from the poor. The poor suffer so that the affluent may continue their existence (for most of us in Australia this is our category). But somehow, somewhere those in the western world have been taught that to accumulate loads of money is to be successful and fulfilled. Yet we all know affluence and hoarding does not bring about the happiness promised. In fact they often result in social poverty, depression, and other social evils.



Instead, maybe what we should aim for is ‘enough’. Prosperity and poverty teachings occupy much of the church, yet I think that Jesus was on about ‘enough’ for everyone. Enough, so that every human person has land and shelter, food and drink, clothes and the same amount of all the wonderful creations by humankind (sustainably of course!).











Some 'Rage Against The Machine' Lyrics I heard at Big Day Out Melb. - I think they mean something...to do with the story of the pictures

Brotha did ya frget my name
Did ya lose it on the wall
Playin' tic-tac-toe

Yo, check the diagonal
Three brothers gone
Come on Doesn't that make it three in a row


Anger is a gift

Yo, check the diagonal
Three million gone
Come on
'Cause ya know they're counting backwards to zero



Environment
The environment exceeding on the level
Of our unconsciousness
For example What does the billboard say
Come and play, come and play
Forget about the movement


Anger is a gift

Freedom, freedom, yea right