Vigil Anzac Square, Brisbane, AU – Friday 10th July 2009
On Friday we continued our vigils in ANZAC Square Brisbane to remember the dead of the Af/Pak war. We also stood in solidarity with Ciaron O’Reilly and Jim Dowling whose non-violent direct action on Thursday 9th July delayed the transportation of military vehicles for 1 and a half hours during the Talisman Sabre exercise. See press release for more detail.
ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corp) Square embodies the creation myth of Australia with statues of soldiers who have served in farflung wars on request of British and American empires. There is little visible mention of the civilian dead.
The Square is centred on the creation myth of Gallipoli, rarely challenged, and the illusion that our security depends on service to empire. The Gallipoli creation myth has been hyped in the past decade by both Conservative and Labor governments to stimulate contemporary recruitment.
We circled, placing our demands on the perimiter -Bring Our Toops Home -Resist Talisman Sabre Military Exercises -War is Terror is War.
We read some of the names of the dead of the AfPak war, US, Australian and Afghanistani.
Sat 4th July 2009
Christian Activists Vigil At RAAF Amberley In Opposition to War In Afghanistan
Saturday July 4 2009. On a cold, blue sky morning we arrived at the gates of RAAF Base Amberley. The date was significant because it was American Independence Day. Part of the reason for our small band of Christian anti-war activists (some with their children) for being there was to demand that our government and military become independent from American military imperialism around the world just as the American forefathers had demanded independence from British military imperialism. We were there to vigil, to show resistance, to break the silence and the disengagement which has filled our society, politics and the media.
Australian subservience to Washington and their war in Afghanistan (Pax Americana as Damien would say) is strong. The ADF contributes 130 Defence Force members in various headquarters, up to 800 soldiers in ISAF combat operations including Commandos and SAS, 70 RAAF personnel in Air Force Control and Reporting Centre (CRC), in Kandahar Airfield. The CRC controls southern Afghan operational airspace and the coordination of bombing and missile operations, a detachment of 30 personnel operate the SCANEAGLE UAV (drones) and approximately, 65 personnel are deployed in support of ISAF helicopter operations.
RAAF Base Amberley is significant because it is from here that many of the Australian troops deployed are put in planes for Afghanistan to kill or be killed. It is also here where many of the bodies of the soldiers who have been killed arrive back in Australia. In the past RAAF Amberley has also played host to the American and Australian fighter jets which take part in the joint training exercise, Operation Talisman Saber.
They knew we were coming. On approaching the gates of the base, we were met and greeted by senior police and base guards. They said that they were monitoring Ciaron’s website and communications. Ciaron and Jimmy informed them of our intentions and our motivations. In a show of disinterest, the subject was quickly changed to how many guard dogs were at the ready and directions for the toilet facilities. Base security took no time to shove cameras in our faces, in car windows and in a show of complete disregard for Australia’s child protection laws, pictures of our children were taken without any form of consent. Of course, children in Afghanistan are blown to pieces by Coalition bombs and missiles without their parent’s consent. Our children were of course, better off.
According to the ADF, “Under Operation Slipper our forces contribute to the efforts of NATO led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, aimed at preventing Afghanistan again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.” Ironically, it was the American CIA who trained, armed and funded Afghanistan’s international terrorists for over a decade. That was at a time when another empire was brutally occupying the country. The human rights abusing Taliban leadership were supported and flown to Washington as guests while they allowed American plans for bases and pipelines in their country in the 1990s.
Fast forward to the current situation where more than 20,000 Afghan civilians have been killed by coalition forces. More than 1200 coalition soldiers have been killed including a growing number of Australians. We know that Australian military personnel were involved in a cover-up of an investigation into the alleged involvement of special forces soldiers in the killing and maiming of Afghan civilians. We know that “blood money” or “hush money” is being paid to the families of those killed by Australian forces to buy their silence. This war is escalating and is crossing the border into Pakistan. We know that without active public resistance in perpetrator nations like Australia, that thousands more will die ghastly, unnecessary deaths.
We read out the names of the dead, Afghan, American and Australian and we contemplated the waste and futility of this war. We prayed for an end to the carnage and for a world where problems are resolved using diplomacy, love and nonviolence, instead of bullets, bombs and brutal occupation. We vowed to return to RAAF Amberley for as long as this and any other imperial war is fought with the participation and support of our military.