Clocking up 50 on way to Ploughshares Trial & Archibald Prize!
*On a surrealistic aside Jim Dowling is presently careering down the Pacific Highway in the recycled vegie oil fueled Catholic Worker van full of Dowling kidz - carrying Damien LeGoullon's entry into this year's Archibald Prize (Australian portrait competition). They'll be swinging by the appropriate Sydney gallery before heading to a wedding. See Damien's work attached to this email - the final portrait has a B52 Bomber and runway in the background!
I've made a last minute decision to answer a call from the Waihopai Ploughshare defendants and this Thursday March 4th will head to Wellingotn/New Zealand to support them at their trial They face charges of $800,000 criminal damage to the warfighting Waihopai spy base. They have offered us a gift of hope with their nonviolent resistance to the endless 'war on terror".
I turn 50 on Sunday March 7th. and the trial starts Monday March 8th....so hold the drinks at the Boundary. I'll be back in Brisbane on St Patrick's Day so see you at the Irish Club! I turned 40 in Darwin Jail after the Jabiluka Ploughshares action and turned 45 on the first day of our first Pit Stop ploughshares trial in Dublin - so 50 with the Waihopai resisters seems like a good place to be! Hopefully it will kick off another 50 years of solidarity and resistance for moi. We will need it as this present war (longer than WW2) has the capacity to go 50 years like the Cold War - much to the delight of the war profiteers and those who wish to keep us in a permanent state of fear.
*FOLLOW THE TRIAL ON BRYAN LAW'S BLOG WHICH WILL BE REGULARLY UPDATED - CHECK IT OUT
*WAIHOPAI PLOUGHSHARES WEBSITE -FOR ACTION BACKGROUND & WHAT'S HAPPENING AROUND THE TRIAL
*WHAT IS THE WAIHOPAI SPY BASE?
Waihopai is located on the north of the south island of New Zealand. Waihopai is a major secret U.S. spy base partially staffed by U.S. military personnel.
Waihopai is NZ's biggest contribution to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Waihopai intercepts and records international phone calls and e-mail. Waihopai is part of a five nation network of global surveillance known as "Echelon".
Waihopai is not effectively accountable to New Zealand parliament or people. It is exempt from key provisions of the Privacy Act and Crimes Act.
Waihopai intercepts huge volumes of electronic data and sends it to Washington for analysis by the U.S. military.
Waihopai has cost the New Zealand taxpayer $800 million to build and operate over the last 20 years.
Waihopai is shrouded in secrecy and key information about the base - such as who exactly is being spied on and what happens to the informatio - is classified.
THE WAIHOPAI PLOUGHSARES - WHO BURST THE BUBBLE!
Profiles on the Defendants
In April 2008 three Christian pacifists Sam Land, Peter Murnane and Adi Leeson, entered the Waihopai spy base and deflated a pressurised dome covering one of the satellite dishes.
This followed in the tradition of previous "non-violent direct actions" by the Ploughshares movement in which military planes, ships, hardware and bases were symbolically disarmed. In the last 20 years Ploughshares activists have undertaken 120 of these actions. One of these, in 1991, involved New Zealander Moana Cole who disarmed a B52 Bomber by hitting it with a hammer. She was imprisoned in the U.S.A. for a year.
The idea behind these actions comes from the book of Isaiah which refers to beating swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.
Sam, Peter and Adi used sickles to deflate the dome, symbolically disarming the spy base. Their aim was to draw attention to New Zealand's involvement in the U.S. war in Iraq through the presence of this base in their country. While waiting to be arrested, they prayed and set up a shrine in rememberance of victims of U.S. torture, assassination and genocide.