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Vigil at Enoggera Barracks, Australia

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Friday May 11, 2007 11:27author by Ciaron O'Reilly - Catholic Workerauthor email ciaronx at hotmail dot com Report this post to the editors

My family have shared a back fence with the Enoggera Army Barracks since the late 1950's. My older brother Sean and I were raised during the long years of the Vietnam War next to this second largest military base in Australia. My parents are still there, the base is still there, the rifle range is audible form our home, the lowflying military choppers occasionally pass over our house and young men and women in uniform fill the aisles of the local Brookside Shopping Centre. Sean and I have spent 30 years in anti-war activism that has taken us to resistance actions, court secenes and prison from New York, London, Texas, Roxby, Jabiluka, Nurrunga, Cunungra, Carbahla, Amberley, Pine Gap, Nevada Nuclear Test Site to Dublin's Four Courts but never before had we been drawn to the gates of nearby Enoggera.

In March 07, troops were deployed form Enoggera to Iraq and that has brought the war close to home and us to the gates of Enoggera. We are joined by our younger brother Brendan and friends who too have been influenced by the nonviolent direct action praxis of the North American Catholic Worker Movement and faith based resistance network. Lisa Bridle, who we first met in the 1980's resisting first strike nucler war preparations, brings her sons Sean and Dec. Jim Dowling and Damien LeGoullon who have experimented with us in Catholic Worker communities and are both long time anti-war activists are present. Daniel who we came in contact with during the 1990's activism around East Timor brings his daughter Grace. Sr. Kay McPadden who works witht the local indigeneous community and has joined us on many civil disobedience actions is also present.

We are more of a tribe than an organisation. We have always been more concerned with spiritual reflection, nonviolent resistance and the rituals of solidarity and celebration than "campaigning", media profile, or the politics of branding, product placement and recruitment. I have recently escaped a prison sentence in Ireland being found "not guilty" of $US 2.5million criminal damage to a U.S. war plane headng for Iraq Jim Dowling is before the courts in Alice Springs at the end of this month for a citizen's inspection of the secretive U.S. warfighting Pine Gap base We continue to wrestle with questions of faith, nonviolence, raisnig children, life over the long haul in a world rushing towards ecological destruction and war. We do this in a context of community and as Woody Guthrie told us "we know the secret to life is turning up!" when the powers would simply like us to go away.

We gather to vigil against ongoing Australian complicity in the invasion and war on Iraq. In the radical Catholic tradition, to vigil is to remain awake while society slumbers in a time of peril. This is such a time as the war escalates and expands in the Middle East and when Australian society remains largely disengaged and the anti-war movement invisible. A changing of the Government guard offers little hope as the Labor Party who lead us so enthusiastically into Gulf War 1 and so recently completed the final chapter of the anti-uranium sell out prepares to take over the franchise. So we gather on Wardell St, Enoggera at the intersection to the main entrance to the base.

The theme of our weekly vigilis to reach out in solidarity to those being used as cannon fodder. Our signs state....
-"Refuse to Serve the Illegal Invasion of Iraq!"
-Invading Iraq Has Nothing to Do with Defending Australia!"
-"Bring Our Troops Home!"
- Listen to Iraq Veterans Against the War

The traffic is a gridlocked crawl and we soon realise the power of this locality and context. A drama is unfolding in Australia around this war in Iraq but it appears cocooned in the military community. 60+ uniformed military personell crawl by in cars during our 90 minute vigil.

Responses range from a supportive thumbs up to disciplined blanking to verbal abuse and to the surreal
Young soldier on motorbike shaking head vigoriously
Me "What's the problem?"
Soldier "But I want to go overseas!"
Me "Great aspiration! How about backpacking or youth hostels, just don't go to war!"

An older man holds up a wallet size photo of his son, I assume he's deployed. A young soldier and his partner living nearby walk up to investigate. Two out of uniform soldiers screech recklessly to a halt, oblivious to the traffic pile up they are causing, the passenger door flies open. They accuse us of trying to incite people to abuse them. I assure them that I have several friends who are American vetearns of this war and we are not here to abuse them or him. We are here because we are concerned about them and the people of Iraq.

For the last few years the Australian forces have been deployed relatively safely in a southern Shiite province of Iraq. That community has played along with the occupation as they have initially benefited. That arrangement is rapidly coming to an end, an Australian convoy was attacked four times in less than 24 hours last week. The digger who copped the sophisticated IED coming through the floor of his armoured personnel carrier is now in Darwin hospital. As the year rolls on the realities of this war will continue to come home. This corner outside Enoggera Army Barracks will become an increasingly relevant place to take a stand.

I have a hunch if all those people in Australia who oppose this war stood publicly with a sign for one hour a week on their campus, near a military base, government office we would soon have a vibrant and visible anti-war movement. If 1% of those who had marched against this war had gone into serious nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Ghandi and Martin Luther King and had gone to jail resisting this war - the Australian government would have a serious problem following U.S. orders and waging it.

Make contact for more info about the Enoggera Vigil
Ciaron Ph. 0432 023 188

Sr Kay & Jim
Sr Kay & Jim



author by Trial Solidaritypublication date Sat May 12, 2007 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Plowshares Veteran Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly and the former Provincial of the West Coast Franciscans Fr. Louis Vitale face trial soon for challenging the U.S. governments torture policies. Check the link below for more background on their nonviolent direct action and forthcoming trial........

Related Link:
author by Australian Defence Deptpublication date Sat May 12, 2007 23:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

05 Mar 2005 PARLSEC22/05
More than 40 infantry, cavalry and military police soldiers will deploy on Operation Catalyst on Saturday March 5 as rotation replacements for soldiers already serving in Iraq on Security Detachment duties in Baghdad, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Teresa Gambaro said.

The soldiers are from the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2 CAV REGT), 2/14th Light Horse Regiment Queensland Mounted Infantry (2/14 LH QMI) and the 1st Military Police Battalion from Sydney.

Ms Gambaro was joined by Major General Mark Kelly, Commander of the 1st Division as well as family and friends to officially farewell the soldiers at a ceremony at Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane.

Ms Gambaro said they would join more than 100 soldiers of the Security Detachment 6 who deployed from Brisbane on December 29 and replace soldiers from the Darwin-based 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.

"These soldiers are departing on a six-month deployment with the Baghdad Security Detachment and I am very proud to be here to officially farewell them on behalf of the Australian Government," Ms Gambaro said.

"The members of the Security Detachment who have returned home and those who departed in December have done an outstanding job in providing protection and support to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad.

"I am sure this deployment will continue the role in the same professional, courageous and dedicated way that have been instrumental to the success of the Australian mission to Iraq," Ms Gambaro said.

"Our Australian personnel have earned the respect and admiration of our coalition allies and have established a strong bond with the people of Iraq.

"All Australians should be proud of the work being undertaken by Australian troops in support of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq."

Ms Gambaro said the high standard of their training, preparation and equipment was a credit to the entire Defence organisation. The professionalism of the Australian soldiers has enabled them to deal with difficult and dangerous situations whilst rising to meet any challenge.

Operation Catalyst is Australia’s Defence contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq. Operation Catalyst commenced on 16 July 2003 to follow-on from Operation Falconer.

Media information:

Michelle Smytheman (Teresa Gambaro) (07) 3283 4277 or (02) 6277 4433 or 0418 777 98

Defence Media Liaison (02) 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

author by Court Solidaritypublication date Sun May 13, 2007 00:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

May 10, 2007 Cover Story, The Co Springs Independent weekly news paper
Will this happen again? After years of conflict between the city and
its citizens, history threatens to repeat

This pass weeks statement's before city council and police chief by
"St, Paddy's 7" support group - Link to updates and archives of News
Paper, TV coverage, photos and video related to the Co. Springs St
Patricks Day Parade arrest of peace activisit.

YouTube slideshow of the 2006 St Pat's Parade Bookman Book Story peace
entry - no arrest, no hassle last year - What a difference a year

Related Link:
author by Court Solidaritypublication date Wed May 16, 2007 04:50author address Iowa, USAauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Former Abu Ghraib interrogator Joshua Casteel was one of the Catholic Workers
found guilty of occupying a congressman's office protesting the war on Iraq

CEDAR RAPIDS - Eleven peace activists who claimed they were justified
in staying in the federal courthouse after hours because they wanted
to end the war in Iraq were found guilty of trespass by a Linn County

"While wanting to end the further loss of lives is a goal of the
utmost importance, the
Court does not find that this goal amounts to justification for the
Defendants' actions given the completely speculative nature of the
outcome in this case," Magistrate Judge Jill Ableidinger said in a
written order issued Monday afternoon.

She tried all 11 together on April 25, each on a single simple
misdemeanor trespass charge.

Ableidinger said the defendants didn't know if Grassley would speak to
them, secondly had no way of knowing that a conversation would cause
him to act and lastly that if the Senator did what effect, if any, the
action would have on saving lives.

Frank Cordaro of Des Moines, a former Catholic priest and seasoned
activist, expressed disappointment in the judge's decision.

"A few brave judges need to side with the peacemakers and raise the
larger issues of international law and the criminality of war making
with the (Bush) Administration," Cordaro said.

It's been his experience that the judicial branch of the U.S.
government sides with the executive branch in war making, Cordaro
said. His first arrest dates back to a 1977 protest at the Pentagon.

"At the moment, our judicial system is not independent enough to act
freely on its Constitutional obligation to uphold international
treaties that are at odds with our national security state and the
current war in Iraq," Cordaro said.

About two dozen protesters waited outside the office of Sen. Chuck
Grassley, which is on the second floor of the federal courthouse in
Cedar Rapids, on Feb. 26 hoping to talk to the Senator by phone to
convince him to push for an end to the war.

They were participating the Occupation Project, part of the Voices for
Creative Non-Violence campaign, which is an effort to stop the war in

Grassley was on a plane to Washington, D.C. The war protesters waited,
hoping to speak with him by phone. They were repeatedly asked to
leave. An hour and a half after the courthouse closed to the public,
Cedar Rapids police were called in to arrest the 11 who remained in
the hallway.

Ableidinger said they could have attempted to contact the Senator
earlier, or waited until the next day.

"They also had the opportunity to continue their presentation efforts
on this day, just outside the federal courthouse itself," Ableidinger

Sentencing is set for July 6 in Linn County District Associate Court.

They face up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine.

"It's definitely caused me to be more aware of Congressional issues
and how our Senators and Representatives try to represent us," said
Andrew Alemeo, 19, of Cedar Falls, after the April 25 trial.

Dealing with the initial 21 hours in jail, or a possible jail
sentence, is nothing compared to people suffering in Iraq, Alemeo

"Our sacrifice is nearly insignificant in comparison,'' Alemeo said.

In addition to Cordaro and Alemeo, those convicted include: Joshua
Casteel, 27, of Cedar
Rapids; Megan R. Felt, 20, of Iowa City; Timothy L. Gauger, 36, of
Eugene, Ore.; David A. Goodner, 26, of Iowa City; John P. Hornbeck,
25, of Iowa City; Ryan D. Merz, 20, of Maple Plain, Minn.; Conor A.
Murphy, 29, of Madison, Wis.; Rosemary M. Persaud, 47, of Iowa City;
and Justin N. Riley, 19, of Crystal, Minn.

Related Link:
author by jodiepublication date Sun Nov 18, 2007 00:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have seen you and the other protesters while I have been driving past the barracks. I find it offensive that you are protesting there instead of protesting outside of pariment house and other (liberal)government offices. Our troops are doing their job. I 100% disagree with our troops being sent to Iraq (and I did not vote for John Howard and have never agreed with the decision) but now that they are there I support them 100% and hope they all come back safely. Our army is a credit to Australia and without them alot of good work such as Timor, helping in natural disasters etc is usually forgotten. Don't blame the army, blame the government and protest outside their offices, not the barracks.


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