Australian Catholic Workers Resist Military Exercise & Af/Pak War

Talisman Sabre 09 is a biennial exercise that involves 20,000 U.S. & 7,000 Australian troops, fighter jets and warships, it is taking place in July in central Queensland, Australia.

Australian complicity in the U.S. war on the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan includes the present deployment of 600 Australian (SAS, Special Ops and infantry) troops in Afghanistan, detention in Australia of Afghani refugees fleeing the war and daily targeting information for U.S. bombardment coming from the U.S. N.S.A Pine Gap near outback Alice Springs.

Long time Australian Catholic Worker peace activists Jim Dowling and Ciaron O’Reilly are preparing to travel to the Talisman Sabre exercises in central Queensland, Australia to carry out nonviolent resistance to the war machine they see killing again in Afghanistan.

O’Reilly and Dowling first met in custody in 1978 during the anti-nuclear/civil liberties struggles under the corrupt and authoritarian Joh Bjelkle Petersen Queensland government. By 1982 they were living and working at the Catholic Worker community in West End Brisbane and have since carried out nonviolent resistance together to nuclear war preparations, the war on East Timor and in the opening days of the war on Afghanistan.

Jim Dowling presently works and lives outside of Brisbane on the Peter Maurin Catholic Worker farm with his wife Anne and their seven children. He was one of the Christian Against All Terrorism group that broke into the secretive U.S. N.S.A. Pine Gap base near Alice Springs to carry out a citizen’s inspection during the recent war on Iraq.

Ciaron O’Reilly spent a year in U.S. prisons as one of the ANZUS Ploughshares convicted of damaging a B52 Bomber in New York on the eve of George Bush Sr.’s war in 1991. O’Reilly was also part of the Pitstop Ploughshares arrested in Ireland in 2003 and charged with $2 1/2 million damage to another U.S. war plane en route to George Bush Jr.’s invasion of Iraq. The group was acquitted of all charges unanimously by an Irish jury in 2006.

O’Reilly stated, “Talisman Sabre is a $250 million exercise in futility. Talisman Sabre is not a game or an exercise it is a fantasy – a war theatre with no civilians! Most of those being killed by American, Australian and Pakistan militaries are innocent civilians, most fatalities have been women and children. The Af/Pak War is presently escalating and expanding. These Talisman Sabre exercises are siginificant preparations for more killing.

The Australian involvement in the war on Afghanistan is now eight years old. U.S. and Pakistani military involvement stretches back over 30 years, from arming and funding the Taliban to now attempting to destroy their own creation with an expanded war against the Pushtun people of northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. Ten Australian troops, hundreds of British and U.S. soldiers and thousands of Afghani civilians have been killed, millions of Afghanis and Pakistanis have been made homeless or forced to flee into exile.

Talisman Sabre occurs at a time of major escalation in the war under the Obama and Rudd administrations. The Australian military has a long history of running off to American wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan that have nothing to do with the defense of Australia. By killing more civilians, with the hi tech war machine on display at Talisman Sabre, we will be creating more terrorism and terrorists. It is important to put our bodies on the line in nonviolent resistance to this deadly cycle”

• Grana, 12, is the sole survivor of a coalition bombing in southern Helmand province that took her arm and her leg, and killed nine members of her family

• Background on Jim Dowling

• Background on Ciaron O’Reilly
-Enough Rope interview with Andrew Denton


  1. Jimmy D

    Great place for demonstrating resistance to war. Look forward to continued solidarity and resistance to Australia’s questionable involvement in war at Anzac Square, Brisbane.

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  • The Af/Pak War and the USA & Australia Militaries

      While Australia services the escalting U.S. Af/Pak War in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan, a training exercise is taking place in July in central Queensland/Australia between the two militaries.

      Australia has a long history servicing U.S. aggression in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Catholic Worker has a long history in nonviolently resisting such wars and preparations for war. Catholic Workers are heading to the Talisman Sabre exercises to 'fight fire with water' and nonviolently bring and end to Talsiman Sabre and the Af/Pak War.

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