Thursday, May 29, 2008

GUAM, US Military Bases and Australia




Lisa Natividad and Julian Aguon
Chamoru activists from Guahan (Guam) who are campaigning against US military bases will be coming to Melbourne for 2 good gigs.










Friday 13th June



6.30pm @ Old Stables of Earthly Pleasures Café, Belgrave
(enter via back carpark)



Saturday 14th June



12.30-5pm @ 60 Leiscester St, Cartlon



Join us for an afternoon workshop with panels, presentations and action planning on US bases and militarisation in Australia, Japan and the Pacific.



As the US prepares to move thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, find out about the struggle for Indigenous self-determination in the Pacific and Australia’s links to regional militarisation.

Militarisation of the Pacific

US militarisation of the north-west Pacific is anchored around the small island of Guam, east of the Philippines. The island, known as Guahan to its indigenous Chamoru population, is three hours' flying time from Japan, Okinawa, Indonesia and the Philippines. Flying to China or North Korea from Guahan takes four hours. Guahan is currently a US territory, so the Pentagon can act there without seeking permission from allies.

Guahan is strategically located close to several of the world's most important sea lanes through which some 50% of the world's oil passes each year. In addition to the upgrading of facilities and increased deployments of planes, submarines and other equipment, Guahan now faces a doubling of the military troops stationed there. Washington and Tokyo have agreed to move 8,000 Marines to Guahan from Okinawa by 2014. This build-up will add 35,000 people to Guahan's current population of 170,000.

The Struggle of the Chamoru people

The Chamoru people of Guahan have resisted the take over of their land and waters since the arrival of Europeans in 1668. They are not prepared to give up that struggle. In October 2006, a delegation of young Chamoru stood before the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonisation and demanded that they “hold the United States accountable, as Guahan’s administering power, to its moral and legal responsibilities to ensure the ... right to self-determination of the native Chamoru people” and put an end to the “massive US military build-up [which] hinders the right of Chamorus to decolonization and violates the human rights of all people from Guahan”.

The link with Australia

Australia’s military alliance with the United States allows US Air Force planes from Guam to fly across our country for exercises and to use bombing ranges. The alliance makes us complicit in the denial of Chamoru indigenous rights and in the threat to regional peace and security posed by the militarisation of Guahan. In addition, the Australian Defence Force participates in various military exercises with US forces based in Guahan and ADF elements visit and transit through Guahan during these war games.



Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reflections on the World's Dominating System

I wrote these reflections after class (Entering the Social Domain) that's part of my Masters Course in Integrative and Transformative Studies. Oh and then I watched the Matrix to unwind at the end of the day - bad move. I didn't realise just how much my brain can resist imploding...

-------------------------------------------------------

“I didn’t come here to tell you how it ends. I came here to tell you how it begins”
Neo – The Matrix

After suffering a heavy day sifting through the complex weaving of capitalism and its stranglehold on our society and on us – I was left with a heavy heart. Understanding with some gladness that I was part of and helping create the new – and that in a way I am involved in the resistance. Yet simultaneously realizing that I will never see its total transformation in my lifetime- nor will anything I do bring about its total revolution.


What can I do but be involved in and help create small, localized fronts of resistance that create pockets of the new. Spaces where the empire is shut out, with high walls and new orders that are congruent between our humanity and the systems by which our humanity exists through. Because here the danger lies in creating alternative spaces fenced off from the empire – to use the same oppressive systems and structures which we’re attempting to guide through liberation and salvation.


And there is a deeper hope that lies with Christ. Christ who has already come and smashed the ways of old. Its defeat has already occurred at the cross when Jesus nonviolently lay down his life – teaching us and ushering in a new realm that at its core says no longer will we take life to save life but we will give our lives in order to save life. The kingdom of God is here and now. Yet its fullness remains to come to pass. And God in all God’s glory affirms Jesus’ life and nonviolent death by resurrection.


Now we know that we too if we follow in the path of Jesus, the narrow path that leads to the cross that at the end lies our resurrection and the total liberation of the world.
Thus we work, we fight, and we struggle onwards in this knowledge against the powers of this world, against Capitalism which rewards our greatest weaknesses, a system growing in power for 500+ years. Now an established, globalised system of dominance, invisible to the naked eye. Yet unlike in the movie The Matrix, it is not all encompassing virtual world though it may feel as such.


We can awaken; our eyes and ears can see and hear. We can create spaces in which the realm of God can flourish. Even though the weight of the world’s dominating system crushes in, bearing in on us, popping rivets, creating leaks that need plugging and sometimes blowing wide open holes from structural weaknesses – and it collapses.


Would it help to articulate this more as we live, create and fight. To know what we’re up against, to keep our focus? It’s easy to lose sight and slip back in the status quo. And we say ‘is it worth it’?


It’s always worth it. We must only remember. In the words of Rage Against The Machine ‘know your enemy’ – lest your enemy sneak up on you, lest your friends get captured, lest you become your enemy.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Thankyou's

Hi all,
Just like to send around a big thankyou to you all and your support during our recent Court Case for our Nonviolent Direct Action at Samuel Hill Airbase during Operation Talisman Sabre 2007. Without your support, encouraging words, advocacy, support letters (they were amazing - and helped immensly!), financial assistence, prayers, emails and so much more - we/I would have struggled very much so during this intense experience. It was so reassuring during the times of difficulty or nervousness to think of all our support, right round the country and also those overseas. Your contributions to the action took it further than we'd ever thought it would go. Feel free to check out our blog http://www.samuelhill5.blogspot.com/for court reports and pictures.

I encourage you in your work for peace and justice and offer my support and solidarity always.

Stay tuned for whats happening with Talisman Sabre 2009 (http://www.peaceconvergence.com/)


To finish up just wanted to let peoples know that Kaylene and myself (plus a few other mates I know are going) are heading up to the School of Discipleship (http://schoolofdiscipleship.org.au/) in canberra July 10-13th. Other than some good people going, Ched Myers (http://bcm-net.org/wordpress/theological-animation/#aboutched)%C2%A0) will be there too - ched's books have been responsible for getting me in many rowdy discipleship adventures! itz good.




Cheers Simon

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are the Frisbee 4 Ordinary People?

Reports as written by Bryan Law (Pine Gap4) and his wife Margaret who personally came along to support us and was fantastic!!

I know these reports talk us up a bit - but hey i think we did an alright job for total law hacks!



The verdict in the court case for the Samuel Hill 4, basically came down to the question: Are they ORDINARY people?

The sitting magistrate Ms Baldwin quoted Justice Brennan in rejecting a plea of not guilty and finding the 4 did not have ‘lawful excuse’ for being on the Shoalwater Base. [warning loose quoting ahead] Brennan had said“Lofty aspirations should not be confused with rule of law” and “it is essential to separate the functions of court and government”. I think Brennan had been trying to intimate you can't influence public policy through the court system.

The 4 defendants made an excellent case that they were not attempting to 'influence public policy" but to interfere directly in the "social harms created when people are given skills and knowledge and tactics for mid to hight intensity combat" [Simon Reeves]. Mr Simon Moyle said: "Training for war creates more war; training for peace creates peace".Like the Pine Gap 4 and others before them, the 4 attempted to convince the magistrate that they had a legitimate purpose in being there: to prevent GREATER HARMS.

The magistrate first addressed the defence under 10.3 of the Commonwealth criminal code: the idea that the 4 had an extraordinary emergency that gave them reason to be on the tarmac stopping the training and skilling in combat methods. She did however say in relation to the defence that “in the circumstances [she] would be prepared to find that [the reasons they were there] were extraordinary”.

But she didn’t think that it was ‘reasonable’ that they were there. Perhaps “subjectively”; but according to her “objective” test their actions were not reasonable.. She said she needed and “objective assessment of reasonability." Quoting from Mr Justice Gallop in the case “Mark and Henshaw” she said “the critical issue [is] not the appellants belief or state of mind...[but] will come from an objective assessment ...[which] requires application of community standards ...[as to] whether the conduct is acceptable to the community.”

Earlier she had invoked the “man on the Clapham bus” as the standard of ordinary set by some English judge sometime. [I’ll come back to that]But now she discussed the “ultimate impact of a breach of law on the community standards”. she implied that such breaches of law went against “community standards”. She pointed out that that the people involved in Talisman Sabre were also entitled to the protection of the law.

Ms Baldwin said “I believe all four defendants believed that what they were doing was reasonable but on an objective test could not be seen to be reasonable.”She also addressed 10.4 of the criminal code: the idea that Samuel Hill 4 were compelled to intervene in the training and skilling of people in violent methods [war games] in defence of others who would otherwise be subject to great harm. She said that none of the defendants was ultimately able to show imminent peril and therefore she “must determine reasonability in relation to community standards. She again thought that community standards didn’t yet extend to “allowing breach of the law” and this was “not withstanding the method of execution through nonviolence.”

Margaret's Comment

So were they ordinary people? Each of the 4 thought they were pretty ordinary. Simon Reeves claimed to use bikes [he also has a bike he said!] But apparently it is not ordinary in our society to listen to the stories of people around you and then translate that to behaviours that intervene in the unjust acts that you hear about in those narratives.

Personally I thought they were pretty extraordinary not withstanding their use of buses and rather lowly jobs in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.I thought they were extraordinary because of the way they engaged intellectually with the legal material, the way they showed respect and love in the court room, the way they spoke clearly and brilliantly about why they did what they did.

I loved how they summoned Gandhi and King and John Dear and Dorothy Day - yay.From Simon Moyle’s evocation of the nonviolent Jesus.; Chrystal Spencer's bold solidarity with Indigenous Australians and their Country; Sarah’s appeal that they were “everyday Australians armed with another message : ‘Love at All Costs’; Simon Reeves’ argument about concerning the 3 harms of Talisman Sabre and his own compulsion to intervene in those harms on humanity and the Earth each person was particularly lovely there in the court room. Each participant spoke thoughtfully from the heart and with the Spirit of God shining forth.

Blessed Be.Margaret Pestorius

Saturday, May 03, 2008

C'mon on Aussies C'mon!




Australia acknowledges need for an NWC
Australia today delivered a statement on nuclear disarmament to the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting in Geneva. It was much different from statements made in previous years. It even included a reference to the need for a nuclear weapons convention (NWC) for the first time ever. This is something which disarmament experts have described as quite significant. The reference is a cautious one, but using those words in this forum is rare. The only other countries so far to have mentioned an NWC at the meeting have been Costa Rica, Malaysia and Iran.


The statement read: “Australia under a new Government is fully committed to realizing a world free from nuclear weapons … A world free of nuclear weapons will require carefully calibrated steps that buttress international peace and security. Every state, whether holding nuclear weapons or not, must play a part in realizing that world. And at an appropriate time, the international community will likely need to consider complementary legal frameworks, including a possible nuclear weapons convention, for the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons.”


Australia welcomed reductions made by the nuclear weapon states in the size of their arsenals but said that “the international community, Australia included, remains hungry for further, irreversible reductions and greater transparency from states holding nuclear weapons. Concurrent with their warhead reductions, nuclear weapon states need to confirm a reduced role for their nuclear weapons in national security policies.”


It concluded with these words: “We are making progress towards realising the vision of a world free from nuclear weapons, albeit neither as fast nor as consistently as we would wish. Yet one thing is for certain – that without a renewed global commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation … the vision will remain little more than that. Australia is ready to join such a renewed commitment.”
Source from the ICAN blog: http://icanw.blogspot.com/2008/04/australia-acknowledges-possible-need.html
"the strike of mass murder by weapon of mass destruction in hiroshima"