Wednesday, January 23, 2008

O Talisman - Sarah Williams

We dream of a day when the story told in the news is not about missing persons and billion dollar war ships. We dream of a day when stories that are told are of brave people who gathered for the Peace Convergence in June 2007 to protest Operation Talisman Sabre where 26,000 U.S. and Australian troops practiced for war in Shoalwater Bay, QLD. Their message was very simple but profound: “We want to live in a world of peace and not war.” The stories not told are those of the people willing to step over the line saying we do not believe in war and we will break a law if it is unjust and leads to death of our brothers and sisters, we do not accept your barbwire fences, your blank faces, your lies about sovereignty.
The stories not told are of a young man who was arrested whilst trespassing for doing the hokey pokey;
A story of whole communities in their diversity working together and living out of a common goal of peace;
A group of seven comrades prepared to risk their lives whilst camping in pristine wilderness, which happens to be military training ground and bombing site the size of Belgium;
Another group who do what Australians love most – spending time illegally at one of the most beautiful beaches (the Great Barrier Reef) in the world;
A couple of young lovers exposing their nakedness and their humanity declaring love not war;
A group of five Christian activists who walked down Samuel Hill tarmac wanting to play peace games not war games;
Stories of thousands marching together in colour and slendour to the beat of a different drum;
Independent media who follow their hearts in living for the truth uncensored;
Stories of strong women leaders from the Darumbal people (indigenous tribe of the area), from Hawaii and Guam who tell tales of what the U.S. bases have done in their countries;
Of a photographer who continues to be persecuted for taking photographs of deformed children and victims from the effects of the Gulf War;
The forgotten people who really are heroes.
Australia needs to wake up from its comfort and lives of ‘perceived’ fear of others and start opening up our hearts to the atrocities that go on every day in this world even in our own backyard. We need to ask the question: “Does our affluence fuel our apathy?” We need to say no to excess consumerism and yes to our neighbours who are dying everyday in unnecessary wars. Our governments need to start operating under true democracy where people have freedom of speech and a right to stand up for what they believe in. What is the point of economic advancement when the gap between rich and poor is on the increase?
Sadly, these stories will not be told because of big dollars and control. We were three of the five who were voluntarily arrested on Samuel Hill airbase on the 21st June. We walked down the tarmac with other Christian activists armed with a peace flag, a Frisbee, two letters for the U.S. and Australian Major Generals and the hope for dialogue. Before we were taken away by police we enjoyed many in depth conversations with military personnel who shared their inner feelings about the Iraq war and what they saw and were exposed to (e.g. use of depleted uranium and its effects). We got to share about our concerns for their lives and civilian’s lives and about our worry over the environmental effects that war and these games have. To our utter disbelief the hypothetical mission at the games was in regards to hypothetical “terrorists” coming to take over the country. Were we those terrorists? We were just everyday Australians armed with another message: Love at all costs! As we were driven out we saw tanks and soldiers scattered all throughout the bush that had cease-fired as the base was closed whilst we were on the grounds. That day our concerns for our friend’s safety that were still on the base went to parliament, as no one believed it was possible. To us it was worth it just to have the conversation we wouldn’t have had whilst we were kept in silence. Please don’t silence it anymore!
As all the protesters go home the local are left with the night sky blaring, the sound of bombing, their homes shaking, their health at risk and the real threat that because this base is located where it is they will be a likely target. The destruction of Shoalwater Bay continued until the 2nd July, 2007 and will go on for the next twenty years. Australia continues to spend $55 million a day on its military whilst where we live in Doveton, Victoria many social problems are unaddressed and experienced daily such as lack of affordable housing, social isolation, mental health issues, lack of education to name a few. We want to bring an end to the further militarization of Australia!

For our press release (June 21st, 2007) please follow the link - News “Media Coverage for Peace Convergence” and then go to “Activists Still Inside War Games Zone, More Go In: Press Conference in Action.”


SHARON said...

I just want to leave a note of encouragment to you all. You are working towards two things, we as a people to become less apathetic and peace not war. Without people such as yourselves who prick the conscience of the apathetic and challenging them to think about WHAT is their opinion and to act on or at least speak out on their opinion and take a little time from the busyness of a working life which takes much and gives little back. What you have done is selfless with more concerns for others than for yourselves. I take my hat off to you all and say THANKYOU!

Simon said...

thanks sharon! much appreciated. keep in touch!