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Resisting the Af/Pak War - 7 More Australian Activists Break into U.S./OZ Military Training Area

category international | anti-war / imperialism | press release author Thursday July 16, 2009 14:30author by MLK Houseauthor address Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, Australia Report this post to the editors

They're in there for us, We're out here for them!

Seven anti-war activists entered the Shoalwater Bay military training area in central Queensland during joint US-Australian Talisman Sabre exercises. The seven remain in the area and are presently moving towards the ‘live fire’ areas with the intention of shutting down the exercises. They remain undetected by Australian Defence Force Security and the Qld Police guarding the area.
Jaegerstaetter 3: Culley Palmer, Jim Dowling, Bryan Law
Jaegerstaetter 3: Culley Palmer, Jim Dowling, Bryan Law

Seven anti-war activists entered the Shoalwater Bay military training area in central Queensland during joint US-Australian Talisman Sabre exercises. The seven remain in the area and are presently moving towards the ‘live fire’ areas with the intention of shutting down the exercises. They remain undetected by Australian Defence Force Security and the Qld Police guarding the area.

The activists are:
Yulangi Bardon, 21
Jake Bolton, 27
Jim Dowling, 53
Bryan Law, 55
Emily Nielson, 19
Culley Palmer, 21
Mark Palmer, 51

The group stated:
"US and Australian militaries, training at Talisman Sabre are presently involved in waging an escalated war in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. Most of the victims in this eight year war have been civilians yet the concept of civilians and civilian loss seems to have been completely lost on the military. There aren’t any civilians permitted in the exercises. Civilians are eliminated here as they are eliminated in war.

"As civilians we enter this area in solidarity with all the civilian victims of the US and Australian military. We enter the exercise area with the intention of shutting down the exercises.

"We come from varied backgrounds: Christian and Humanist traditions. We come in common purpose to nonviolently resist these rehearsals for war and the escalating war on the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"It is universally acknowledged that lies told by the Australian Parliament and the US government regarding "Weapons of Mass Destruction" [WMD] in Iraq led us to an illegal invasion and disastrous war in that country. Prime Minister Rudd’s recent assertion that Australian troops waging war in Afghanistan decreases the possibility of terrorism at home is also a lie leading us all to further disaster, death and destruction.

"We call upon all sectors of civil society in Australia to take action against such rehearsals for invasion and war as Talisman Sabre. We call upon all sectors of civil society to take action against the escalating war on the peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"We call upon Air Commodore Meier to make good on his word to the Australian Senate "that if unauthorised personnel are known to be on or near the live fire area, we stop the clock on the exercises until they are found." [June 4th 09] Despite our attempts to communicate, Thursday’s statement by Brigadier Bob Brown, contrary to this position, exhibits a negligence in relation to human safety that echoes the Australian and US military behaviour in Afghanistan.

Martin Luther King House of Nonviolence, Yeppoon:-

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Grana 4: Yulangi Bardon, Emily Nielsen, Mark Palmer, Jake Bolton
Grana 4: Yulangi Bardon, Emily Nielsen, Mark Palmer, Jake Bolton

author by MLK Housepublication date Thu Jul 16, 2009 23:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

8 June 2009
Senator John Faulkner
Minister for Defence
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear John,


Please cancel the Talisman Sabre 09 war-games planned for July at Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
I write as an Australian citizen, and as a Christian peace activist committed to ending Australian complicity in war crimes, and our participation in illegal, immoral and futile military violence around the world.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that:

2304 Respect for and development of human life requires peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is "the tranquillity of order"98. Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity99.

2306 Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defence available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death104.

2308 All citizens and governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

2317 Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"112


War fighting exercises like Talisman Sabre prepare Australian troops to fight high intensity conflicts as one component of US led military operations. Talisman Sabre practices the armed invasion of someone else's land. It practices to do again what we did in Iraq. Iraq was not a just war. The war in Iraq increased the disorders of injustice, economic and social inequality, envy, distrust and raging pride.

Exercise Talisman Sabre must inevitably result in systematic murder and human rights abuses. As a Christian, I can't tolerate or be complicit in such crimes, and I am compelled to oppose the conduct of Operation Talisman Sabre.

In ordinary times, as well as during the global financial crisis, material resources can be spent in ways which are better or worse at fostering the economic, human, and other productive means of community development that we need for human society. I'd prefer you spent the Defence $billions on education, energy efficient transport, housing, communication, agriculture and other services, along with enabling infrastructure.

Every dollar spent on Talisman Sabre is a dollar stolen from the poor.

The $100 billion odd the White Paper proposes to spend on ships, submarines and airplanes (and all their attendant weapons systems) will ensure crowded schoolrooms, long hospital queues and poorly supported community development well into the future.

As a Christian, I can't tolerate or be complicit in such sins, and I am compelled to oppose both the conduct of Operation Talisman Sabre and your funding of regional and global arms races.


On 4 April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr gave a speech to religious anti-war activists at Riverside Church in New York. In it he gave the seven reasons he opposed the war in Vietnam, and why any Christian must oppose the three giants of racism, militarism and poverty. Dr King's words are as relevant today as they were 42 years ago.
"A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Australia today is approaching spiritual death.

Between 1 July 2009 and 29 July 2009, a loose affiliation of Christian nonviolence activists will celebrate Dr King's leadership and vision by living in and operating a residence called after him, out of which various forms of nonviolent peace-making action will emerge and be supported. We will use prayer, outreach, planning and small affinity groups to apply various teachings and traditions about peace-making and resistance to war. We affirm the value of all human life.

Para 2306 of the Catechism approves the witness of those "who renounce violence and bloodshed and make use of those means of defence available to the weakest". It is referring to the kind of nonviolence practiced in the 20th Century by Gandhi, King Jr and Dorothy Day. These leaders all used civil disobedience in their peace-making. Activists associated with MLK House of Christian Nonviolence will use these techniques of civil disobedience during Operation Talisman Sabre.

We give you an unconditional undertaking that no action of ours will manifest or cause any harm or disrespect whatsoever to any soldier, defence personnel, police officer, media and other worker, politician, witness or by-stander. We will always explain clearly what we are doing and why.


I attended some of the peace convergence at Talisman Sabre '07, and noticed severe difficulties in communicating with the military forces, and with civilian officers of your Department of Defence. There was little or no understanding by your staff of either the motivation or techniques of Christian nonviolence.

Hence when two affinity groups entered the training area, the response of military and Departmental authorities was to deny that entry and carry on with the exercises as normal.

In 2009 we expect that several affinity groups will form to carry out civil disobedience actions which attempt to obstruct and interfere with the military aspects of Operation Talisman Sabre. Some of those will enter the training area.

Please appreciate that the details of our actions will be constructed through a weeks-long process of prayer, analysis, inspiration, and material boundaries. I expect that civil disobedience actions will also address convoys, staging areas, airfields, and other elements of the training exercise. Each group will organise its own communication with authorities, and lines of responsibility for actions taken.

My own particular interest lies in entering the training area in ways which maximally frustrate the conduct of the exercise. I am called to, at an appropriate time, (immediately before a planned exercise would be good) enter those areas set aside for live firing exercises. We may set off emergency beacons to confirm our presence there. Exposing ourselves to potential harm so as to arouse the conscience of the community, is one key element of Christian nonviolence.

Would you halt the live firing exercises to preserve the safety of peace activists at risk under those circumstances?
Or would the death or injury of such activists constitute an acceptable level of collateral damage for the privilege of studying war?

Irrespective of your answer to those questions, I would appreciate a contact within your department with whom we can liaise to ensure clear communications and maximum safety for all concerned.


In reviewing this letter, I find it heavy on the criticism, and missing the positive aspects of Martin Luther King Jr's vision of how God's kingdom might look on planet Earth. So I conclude with another exerpt of his 1967 speech:
"A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept - so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force - has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:
Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says:
``Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.''

I trust this letter finds you well.

I hope you are able to act powerfully as a loving human being to help end the scourge of militarism in Australia and on earth.

I look forward to your response,

Yours sincerely
Bryan Law

Bryan Law
Bryan Law

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author by MLK Housepublication date Thu Jul 16, 2009 23:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Today I am joining two friends in entering the Shoalwater Bay military training area with the goal of disrupting the war making exercises of 18,000 US and 6,000 Australian troops.

Before doing this I once again watched an old movie about Franz Jaggerstatter, the (soon to be canonised) Austrian peasant who defied nearly all around him in refusing to join the Nazi war effort.

I have been long inspired by this man who named a war crime for what it is, while the bravest around him could only remain silent. The majority praised the “good” war their soldiers were fighting for God and Country. Franz, along with everyone of fighting age, was called up to join the war. He was executed for the simple act of saying “no”.

There is no conscription in this country. All that is asked of us is our silence and inaction in the face of Australia and US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the preparation for the next war(s).

Today we say “No!” And we act by entering the war training area. I call on all people of good will to join the “no”, and resist war.

Jim Dowling 16th July 2009

Jim Dowling
Jim Dowling

author by MLK Housepublication date Thu Jul 16, 2009 23:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Having been manager for four years at a vegan restaurant in West End and having also had enjoyable employment in the planting of Australian natives, I have grave concerns regarding the environmental impacts of Talisman Sabre and its effects on native flora and fauna.

As an evicted squatter, and therefore theoretically homeless, I object to the gross over-expenditure of $71M per day on the Australian military, particularly in consideration of the ‘new face of homelessness’ and the economic downturn.

I also object to any form of Australian support of the world’s most corrupt military and the current U.S. mobilization of troops into an undeclared war on Pakistan.

I stand in solidarity with the Darumbal who have been denied access to a significant portion of their country, and am hesitant for Australia to provide further links in the chain to the Pacific, where U.S. militarism has displaced entire countries of indigenous inhabitants and poisoned their lands beyond repair.

I want to see troops withdrawn from the illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently, Pakistan. At the very least, Australia must withdraw its support of the perpetrators of international terrorism in the United States government.

Yulangi Bardon
Yulangi Bardon

author by MLK Housepublication date Fri Jul 17, 2009 01:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors


I am entering the defacto U.S. training base at Shoalwater Bay because I believe that we need to make a shift away from the current policy of serving as a sidekick for the U.S. in offensive military campaigns worldwide. The voice of the Australian people was ignored when we launched into the illegal war on Iraq in 2003 and is still being ignored today. According to Malalai Joya (an Afghan national, parlimantarian and women’s rights activist) the current war in Afghanistan does not increase the security of the Afghan people but acts to secure U.S. military and strategic interests.

I call for a rejection of the current U.S./Australain alliance and a move toward mutual collaboration with our neighbors based on peace and justice.

Mark Palmer, 51
Bushfire and Land Management Consultant
Norhtern Rivers, New South Wales


Letter for family and friends from Jacob Bolton
When they come for the innocent,
Without crossing over your body,
Cursed be you religion!
Dear mum, dad, Leonie, Simon, Pete, Kaylene, Nicole, Andrew, Annabelle, Barwon, Shobie, Luffy, Sarah, Krystal, Joshua, Martin, Nisha, Rebecca, Kathryn, Kierra, Raz, Kinta and anyone else whom I have forgotten...
I address you for the action I am taking. With intent and conviction I plan to disrupt the talisman sabre war games that are being held within the complex of Shoalwater bay, by entering a live fire zone, where both bombs and high yield explosives will be tested. It must be known I do not stand against the soldiers nor do I stand against the police, my disagreement is with the war; war games are not games when you are learning of a better way to kill someone. I write to you so that you may understand the reasoning to my action.
Through the years I have spent living in Doveton with the Jahwork Christian Community; my life has greatly been moved and changed. From identifying my own brokenness, to re-discovering the love of Christ and the need for it in the world. While discovering the message of Jesus in a broken world I have also discovered the moment when a man decides he no longer wishes to drink, I have seen the tears flow from a man addicted to gambling, I have held and comforted a person whose lost his closest friend to drugs and I have laughed and cried, with people... and above all I believe I have found that it is love that makes life worth living. Life is precious, rare, beautiful, and most of all sacred.
I have my inspirations from many figures which have become resources of love, compassion, and self sacrifice. From the Aboriginals of Australia I have found compassion within the Maladikarra or ‘the one whom stands in the way’, from Buddhism; the prayer of Bodhisattva – ‘as long as space abides, and as long as sentient beings remain, may I too abide, and dispel the suffering of sentient beings’. Hinduism – The Krishna of the Bhagavad Gita – ‘whenever there is a failure of the righteous, an uprising of the unrighteous, then I create myself. For the establishment of the righteous I appear age after age (refers to a metaphorical battle of love and hate)’. Islam – Mohammed in the time of Mecca, reading from the teachings of Badshah Khan, ‘the true life of a Muslim is a life of non-violence for a Muslims life should be one of work, faith, and love. For without these the name Muslim, is but a sound made from a sounding cymbal’. From Judaism – Joseph, for he loves and forgives greatly, and in his humility and faithfulness he succeeds. And within these teachings and stories, have risen the greatest and most humble of men and women. People such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr, Romus Maximillian, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Watatu, but amongst all my inspirations are none close to that I receive from Jesus. ‘Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called son of God’, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’, ‘blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’, ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those whom have sinned against us’, love each other as I have loved you’, ‘come to me all you whom are in need of rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light’. My inspiration forever with Christ, I will draw on, and it is for the reason in which I follow him and must do what I what I am about too.
As Dr Martin Luther King Jr, once said, “Be the change in the world you wish to see.” I find that what I am doing is imperative, and central to my beliefs in upholding this value. I have prayed and meditated and prepared myself for this action for nearly two years and I feel just as centred about it as the day I started to first question the governments of the empires of our times to be allowed the ability to wage war unchecked. As Gandhi once said, “I object to violence because, when it appears to do well, the good is only temporary, the evil it does is permanent ... Non-violence works for the good of all.” With this in mind, and with the conviction of my spirit, I stand unwilling to cooperate any longer in allowing it to continue for it only creates poverty, hatred, murder, fear, suffering, suicide and above all with the largest casualty violence which degenerates and dehumanises people.
Now while you sit reading what I have said so far you may feel uneasy and I can understand your thinking; you may feel I have become just “another religious nut (and maybe to some degree you are right)”, you may think “I am just one person in the ocean of billions – what can I possibly do?” I don’t have answers for your questions I simply have my distinction between right and wrong. But I feel I have the influence by men and women of just one voice, men and women of small and great stature, men and women whom have faced the gravest of circumstances alone, men and women that gave themselves for the sake of others, and united nations...and I feel these men and women whom have stood and claimed that enough is enough, that have called to stop the violence, and that have wilfully stood in harm’s way as a means to end violence are amongst the humblest of us. And drawing upon the writing of these men and women I am overwhelmed by their courage, faith, humility, strength, compassion. I am a Christian and aim to go where Jesus would go, to see people as Jesus would have seen them, to be merciful as Jesus has mercy, and to resist as Jesus had resisted...
To my friends, family, brothers, sisters and girl friend I care for you all very much and ask that if you believe in God, a God or something similar please pray for me preferably that I don’t step on unexploded ordinance or that I don’t get shot and that we accomplish what we have set out to do.
P.S: Also I will be unreachable on my phone while I am in the base.
Your son, brother, boy friend, best friend, owner, and neighbour...
May we find the Way, the Truth, and the Life in a world of Short-cuts, Deception, and Death.

Mark Palmer
Mark Palmer

Jake Bolton
Jake Bolton

author by MLK Housepublication date Fri Jul 17, 2009 01:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Homes not Bombs

I am strongly opposed to the US/Australian Talisman Sabre” war games” currently taking place in the Shoalwater Bay military area. In comparison to the $25 billion per year assigned to the Australian military, a petty $3 million per year is designated in the budget for assisting the homeless and vulnerable in emergency accommodation and other vital humanitarian services. Before the economic crisis, during 2001 and 2006 the number of homeless families increased by 17% and in people aged over 55 homelessness increased by 30%*. This disparity will increase with the recent economic downturn.

I am appalled at the military expenditure in Rudd’s election promise package, ‘A Place To Call Home’ His party vowed to place affordable housing, access to food sources and community support services at the frontier of Labor being voted into power. Yet with the present designated funding, only 1/5 of homeless people will be housed on the current waiting list**. The government’s priorities are exposed by this disparity.

Now at the age of 19, having been homeless for almost half a decade I am disgusted that fundamental community resources such as education, health care and welfare have been compromised while the ruling elites drain the public purse in supporting aggressive US foreign policy. I am extremely concerned by the millions of refugees made homeless by these horrific wars.

I am outraged at Australia’s military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and (through the Pacific Command) in Guam and Hawaii. Through invading these lands, the peoples of the occupied territories have limited control over their resources, dramatically impacting on their ability to strengthen social cohesion and build upon their historical and present heritage. This demonstrates that not only does the Australian government fail to adequately assist its citizens who are in need of basic resources to survive, it contributes to disempowering and destroying the social fabric of peoples globally.

For these reasons, I have decided to enter the live firing area in the Shoalwater Bay military base with the intention of halting current war game proceedings.

Emily Nielsen

*”Counting the Homeless” report, Australian institute of health and welfare.
** -the Australian Greens Party.

This July I plan to travel to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, which is a training site for Army, Navy and Air force, near Rockhampton in Central Qld. I plan to non-violently interfere with military training there.

The US/Australian interoperability training scheduled for 6th-26th July is called talisman sabre. It will involve more than 20,000 US and 10,000 Australian personnel at a number of locations around Australia.

Shoalwater Bay is recognised as Australia’s single most important area for combined arms exercises. Troops will practise the co-ordinated firing of live ammunition from a range of weapons systems delivered from land, air and sea platforms.

In present wars that Australia and the US are involved in; in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, most of the people killed are civilians. Many of them are children.

The mass murder of civilians is simply unacceptable. Bombing and invading people’s homes is simply unacceptable. It also doesn’t make most people safer. It has to be stopped for the sake of humanity – for the sake of the children.

If we are going to send people to these troubled countries, perhaps, they could be trained to give aid or to disarm weapons, rather than being trained and equipped to kill people.

We know now that what Hitler and the Nazis did was wrong. But if you were living in Germany at the time you would’ve been told by the government and the media that it was good. And you could’ve been ordered by your boss to participate. Would you have refused?
I know that protecting the lives and welfare of my fellow humans is infinitely more important than obeying the law. This is why I intend to disregard the law and non-violently disrupt the military training at Shoalwater bay this July. I will be honest, respectful and nonviolent towards everyone involved.

I find inspiration in the examples set by friends, as well as jesus. Mohandas Gandhi, Ammon Hennacy, Franz Jagerstatter and others.

Culley Palmer

Emily Nielsen
Emily Nielsen

author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Fri Jul 17, 2009 22:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Radio Interview on Independent Brisbane Radio Show: The Wire with Illana Tullock.

Ciaron O'Reilly interviewed and Brigadier Bob Brown. [no relation]

Protesters entered the Shoalwater Bay military training area in Queensland overnight, in a bid to halt the Talisman-Sabre war games.

author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Sat Jul 18, 2009 13:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A Statement from the Martin Luther House of Christian Nonviolence
to Senator John Falkner Minister of Defence
on his visit to Talisman Sabre Military Exercises
July 18th 2009

Australian Defence Minister, John Falkner will today visit the US-Australian war games in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training area.

7 activists remain in the Shoalwater Bay area. These people represent the civilians who are endangered in every war and who are being killed in bombing raids in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the current escalation of war there by the Australians and the US. The overwhelming numbers of those killed in these wars are innocent civilians and children.

We particularly oppose the concept of training Australian forces to participate and engage with US forces in the simulated invasion of another country. Australia has no right to train for such behaviour.
We understand that the model city in the war games has a mosque. Australia has no right to practise violence against such sacred places.

Senator Falkner has been appointed by Rudd government to the defence portfolio significantly because of his reputation in regard to taking control of obstructive government officials and monitoring expenditure carefully.

We ask Senator John Falkner to stop the exercises, to stop the wars, to reduce military spending and redirect that money to making the transition to a sustainable future.

Australia is set to spend a further $100billion over the next 10 years on top of current military spending. Many Australians oppose an escalation in spending on military hardware and assisting America’s wars overseas.

Spokesperson Sean O’Reilly said:
“Our security will not be guaranteed by expensive weapons systems. Moreover the recent defence review confirmed that Australia has no immediate, medium or long term threat.”

“Australia’s external security will only be ensured if Australia is an active participant in peace and justice in the region and globally. We cannot address terrorist violence by trying to kill more and more people, most of whom will be innocent bystanders.

“Australia’s internal security requires we address the causes of homelessness, of social violence, of changing our wasteful culture. These changes will require financial and human resouces which are presently being wasted in War.”

Eight people have been arrested over the past 2 weeks while opposing the wars and the exercises.
Balloons will be released today with messages to John Faulkner since we have been unable to communicate dirtectly with him despite several attempts. A vigil will be held mid-afternoon at Yeppoon where statements by the seven activists will be read aloud.

Jaegerstaetter 3: Culley Palmer, Jim Dowling, Bryan Law
Jaegerstaetter 3: Culley Palmer, Jim Dowling, Bryan Law

author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Sat Jul 18, 2009 13:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Saturday 18/7/2009

The first job of the day was toi write a press statemetn noting the visit by Australian Defence Minister John Faulkner (attached).

Morning action at the road block on the road tio Byfield. We took balloons and tied messages for John Faulkner, the Australian Defence Minister who was scheduled to visit Rockhamptoion and the exercise area.

A large black balloon to symbolise the carbon footprint of military deaths of those killed in the wars. A cluster of three red balloons represented the blood of those spilled,. And a couple of purple balloons the Earth. To the black balloon and to the cluster of red and purple balloons we tied red strips of cloth with messages for John Faulkner. The red clopth was the same red cloth used on the first day symblising the spilt bood of the family

“John Faulkner – Stop $$ waste on wars – Thou Shalt Not Kill”

We spent seom minutes wat6ching balloons ascend an d be carried by the wind over the exercise area, wondering iof our frineds in side might see them. Ina way it was good to just be alone, without any pressure from onlookers, and also to be out in the bush feeling the goodness of the landscape, having confronted the authority and waste of the military barracks the previous day.

Then we had a short liturgy and paryers suing readinsg from Exodus, the Psalm 89 and Matthew 12 – about the need to jouirney into unexplored places and yet the strengthening hand fo God with us.

In the afternoon we went to downtown Yeppoon to hold a vigil, with Graham Dunstan’s banners, out TS09 banner and two large yellow cardboard placards composed by Ciaron advertising our solidarity with the 7 activists still indside the Shoalwater Bay training area. David read the personal statements of the the seven. A couple of youing women with a small child ina stroller came to enquire what we were ona about. Margaret explained our role, and then one of the women accepted David’s offer to help read out the list of those killed in the war in Afghanistan. She was very moved to see how many were children the age of her own children. As we agreed it is hard to see how these children in a far off land were any threat to Australia or America.

That evening after dinner w watched the film of the camden 28 again, for the prople who had not seen it the previous time.

We Wrote Messages to Minister Faulkner - sent by balloon
We Wrote Messages to Minister Faulkner - sent by balloon

We sent the balloons up - The Wind was right
We sent the balloons up - The Wind was right

We held a solidarity vigil in town
We held a solidarity vigil in town

Better solidarity thanks to Graham's banners
Better solidarity thanks to Graham's banners

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author by Jake Liftedpublication date Sun Jul 19, 2009 02:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

ONE out Six ACTIVISTs CAPTURED inside Shoalwater Military Base

Activist Jacob Bolton was discovered by military personnel inside the Shoalwater Military Base late on Saturday night. He was captured and taken to the Rockhampton Watchhouse to be charged and was released on bail early Sunday morning.

A spokesperson from the Martin Luther King House of Nonviolence said that “Jake is very pleased that he was able to find a physical way to challenge war and the military machine. These exercises are only a step removed from current warmaking by the US and Australia in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US and Australians have no civilian players in the exercises. These exercises are a fantasy. The activists presence counters this fantasy”

Margaret Pestorius, who was detained by US solidiers last week said: “Each activist that is found by the military is a reality check for those military personnel who run into them. War has real people: Ordinary men, women and children who want peace and who are trying to go about their daily business in the face of bombing, shooting and incarceration”.

“We were discovered by US infantrymen playing insurgents in a large role playing invasion scenario. Yet there are no civilians in this scenario.”

Jake was part of a group calling themselves the Grana 4. Grana was the sole survivor in her family of a NATO aerial bombing of her village. [see Guardian website]

Phone Margaret on 0403214422
Ciaron on 0411516434
See Jake’s statement below

Statement of Jacob Bolton and Photo at

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author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Mon Jul 20, 2009 13:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jake and Bryan now out and adjusting to civilian life out of the Wilderness [Have they crossed into the land of Milk and Honey??]

Dug Graham out of his bog.

Sean and David from our support team headed home.

Did the vigil in Yeppoon for the third day running - chatted to locals

Bryan did an interview with a national journalist.

Heard from Mark that he and Yulangi and Emily are going well.

Many thanks for good wishes.

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author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Wed Jul 22, 2009 04:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Last Sunday morning, when I’d usually be just leaving Mass with the closing words "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord" resonating in my ears, I found myself instead on a dusty road at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area. In front of me, stopped on the road, was an armoured column of US Marines, looking fierce with all their machine guns and cannons and carbines.

I had stopped the armoured column by the sophisticated, high technology method of waving a blue plastic tarpaulin at them from beside the road as I emerged from the bush – a peace-crazed trespasser on the giant war-games called Exercise Talisman Sabre, outside Rockhampton in central Queensland. The Marine who spotted me from the turret of an APC, hopped on the radio and said something along the lines of "Holy Jiminy Batman, there’s an intruder on our war!", and the column ground to a halt. Goodoh! Thinks me, this is what I came to do. For the how and why of that, let’s go back a step.

On Thursday 16 July 2009 I walked into the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area with two friends, Culley Palmer, 21 and Jim Dowling, 51. We’d formed our little band over 10 days of organising and taking symbolic actions around the Peace Convergence, and we’d been part of the Martin Luther King House of Christian Nonviolence at Yeppoon. Our mission is to save Australia and the world from the spiritual death of militarism.

We called ourselves the Franz Jaggerstatter 3, after the plain Austrian peasant who defied the Nazis during WW2, refusing as a Catholic to be conscripted, to fight for the Nazis, or to allow the Nazis to spread their war propaganda unchallenged. For doing that over five years, Franz was executed in 1943 at theage of 36. Franz Jaggerstatter has now been declared a martyr, and beattified in the Roman Catholic Church as an example of commitment and faith during times of deception and war.

Exercise Talisman Sabre is part of the same preparation for, and prosecution of, war. Australian troops are planning and preparing to fight with US troops, invading someone else’s country and occupying their cities. Some 22,000 troops are involved in Exercise Talisman Sabre, along with all the machinery and weaponry of war. From a nuclear-powered, nuclear armed Aircraft Carrier (USS George Washington), through missile Frigates, Armoured Personnel Carriers, tanks, helicopters, jets, bushmasters, howitzers and sundry weapons down to the M4 assault carbines used by many of the troops on the ground.

I relate to the Jaggerstatter story because we face now the same kind of deception and propaganda that Franz Jaggerstatter faced in Austria in 1938. Just consider the lies that the Australian military and the Australian government have told about Exercise Talisman Sabre. There were two big lies told to us before the games even started:

First we have been told that the exercise is all about "defending Australia". The actual exercise is an amphibious invasion by 5,000 US Marines of the central Queensland coast at Freshwater Beach, followed by a 20 kilometre push to invade and occupy an "urban warfare centre" – which is a fabricated town built around a walled market square, containing mosques. This is NOT a defence exercise.

Second we have been told that the "scenario" is one where the invading forces have UN authorisation. Unlike the invasion of Iraq. Unlike the undeclared war presently being waged against the Pushtun people of western Pakistan. Unlike the present quagmire of Afghanistan where the NATO presence has been invited by the Mayor of Kabul, himself an old oil-man for SoCal. Unlike the intended wars against Iran and North Korea. We are NOT sanctioned in our warmaking by the UN.

So my friends and I - firm in our belief that war is immoral and unjust - walked into the military training area with a plan to disrupt the exercise by putting our bodies in the way. In the way of live firing at Mt Hummock and Pyrie Pyrie sectors, and in the way of troop and armoured movements within the exercise area. (There’s some risk in doing this, but it’s a calculated, managed risk – minimised by advance notice to the authorities, and by positive liason with Police and Military authorities).

So we packed our gear, including map, compass, GPS, and 3G mobile phones with external aerials – so that we could navigate and communicate while we were in the area.

Then we took some small and sensible precautions about being followed and surveilled, which happened intermittently through the two weeks or so we’ve been staying at Yeppoon.

Then on Thursday 16 July we went to an access point shown to us by local peace-loving folk, and we followed a track to the boundary of the area (Shoalwater Bay is 500,000 ha of wilderness area). Then we struck out into the bush to make our way to the live-firing zones.

Now I have one or two (or three) health issues which make bush-walking a bit hard for me, so I took things real easy, relying on Jim and Culley to do the hard yards and carry the heavy burdens. For three days I made about 3 kilometres a day through wilderness, much of the time just marvelling at God’s creation.

The Shoalwater Bay area where I walked is an open schlerophyl forest, with grass tree, cycad, and banksia understorey, some rainforest, and very extensive mangrove forests along much of the coastline. Lots of Kangaroo and Wallaby, lots of bird-life, including Eagle and Cockatoo. Pretty dry this time around. Most of the tributaries were dry, and even the main creeks were confines to lagoons of still water with more or less sediment. (Thank goodness we were prepared and took the water purification tabs with us)

On top of my mind during this part of the walk was the prophecy of Isaiah:40:3 "make the wilderness into a smooth highway", and it really felt to me as if that was happening. Our path was being made smooth.

On the Friday we received word (via text message) that live firing in the exercise area had ceased. The military, we were informed, had issued a press statement that live firing had always been scheduled to cease on that Friday. The trespassers had, of course, no effect and no impact on the games.

I suspect this is another one of those lies the military tells. Local people say that in previous Talisman Sabre exercises the bombardment phase (from sea and land) has gone for ten days or more during the second half of the exercise, and it’s been my understanding that one purpose of war-games has been to habituate troops to operating under the noise conditions of a real battlefield, with the sound of artillery and aerial bombing ever-present.

As we made our way west and north on Friday and Saturday, Shoalwater Bay was the very quietest of war zones. Thousands of troops were advancing, from the north east to the southern "urban warfare centre", supposedly through heavy opposition, and the only sounds were blank fire from a few machine guns, a few F18 jets high overhead, and some unarmed Apache and Chinook helicopters flying around delivering Marines and "protecting" convoys.

I believe that by our presence, and by the preparation and liaison which had preceeded it, small groups of peace-makers had successfully obstructed these wargames and changed their nature.

On Saturday we ran out of water, and had to find a decent supply on the ground. The Jaggerstaetter 3 headed north, crossed the East West road, and made our way to Pineapply Gully, and Pineapple Creek, just ahead of the advancing troops. We found our water, made our camp, and offered up prayers of thanks to God for this time in His creation.

All that afternoon and night we listened to the military air and ground traffic, free of explosions, as attacking and defending units made their gestures of war in the beautiful bounty of Shoalwater Bay.

The walk to Pineapple Gully had been too strenuous for me, and I was running out of medication, so we made the decision that I would surrender myself on Sunday morning, confirm the presence of Jim and Culley in the exercise area, and inform authorities of their plan to move further in towards the live fire zones and prevent any resumption of live firing.

At 9.30 am, Jim and Culley left me concealed 100 metres from the East West road, and I spent an hour watching truck traffic roll by – about one truck every 15 minutes. I’d agreed to wait an hour before emerging, giving Jim and Culley time to get away before alerting authorities to our presence, and at 10.30 exactly an armoured column of more than 20 vehicles (Bushmasters and Armoured Personnel Carriers) started rolling by.

I seized the opportunity, and walked to the roadside where I attracted the column’s attention, and where they stopped – each armoured vehicle going slightly off-road to clear the road and take advantage of some bush cover. When they were still I crossed the road and tied a banner to the trees -–a quote from Genesis "What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the Earth".

This was the same banner Jim had tied to the man-proof fence at Pine Gap in December 2005 when he and I were part of the Pine Gap 4, and had broken into that base and shut it down for five hours. It took us two years and three months of trial and appeal before that banner was returned to us, and it seemed very fitting to display it to the US and Australian troops here at Shoalwater Bay on this fine and sunny Sunday.

Shortly after I put the banner up the column re-started and rolled far enough to get the trailing vehicle, a support truck, just past me on the road, and then it stopped again. It stopped for just over half an hour, during which time I walked to the trailing vehicle and talked to two Marines who came from Los Angeles, California, and whose principal wish was to just go home. They’d been overseas since January.

Apparently one vehicle had broken a track when stopping the first time, and they had to halt there for repairs. When it was fixed, they left.

Now I don’t know what briefing the military forces had about our presence, but that armoured column never reported my presence to the Australian Authorities, and I got to show my banner to several hundred troops as they went by in armoured columns, truck convoys, and contractor vehicles (delivering water and porta potties).

I never saw an Australian until a small convoy of a dozen vehicles (two towing Howitzer Cannon) went past and a young Australian liuetenant jumped out and approached me asking for identification. I showed him my driver’s license. He spluttered and said "But what are you doing on the range?". I replied "That’s easy, we’ve come to stop the war games". He asked me to leave, and said they could organise an escort if I wanted. "You bet", I said, "let’s do that".

An hour later a group of senior officers arrived. They were Umpires in the games, and were reserve officers called in to perform that role. A Lt Colonel, two majors, and a Warrant Officer. All very friendly, and keen to know how I got in, and where my friends were. They gave me a US ration pack for lunch (very cool), had me checked out by an ambulance officer for basic health (very considerate) and had a long yarn about the politics of war, peace and faith.

I could hear the radio traffic from their vehicle, and it was full of my presence, and the likely location of my friends. A couple of Apache helicopters appeared and seemed to fly a search pattern looking for Jim and Cully (now four hours gone). They told me that Jacob (from the other group of four trespassers that had gone in the western sector late Thursday night) had been found on Saturday night, and that a company of US Marines to our west would probably pick up Jim and Culley.

The Military Police arrived, put in a paddy wagon, and drove me to Samuel Hill airbase where I was told that Jim and Culley had been spotted, and a ground detachment had been dispatched to pick them up. I would be waiting till they joined us apparently, although I expressed an opinion that catching Jim and Culley would be harder than they thought. 45 minutes later they told me they’d lost Jim and Culley, and they took me to the Blue Gate at Byfield where I was handed over to the Queensland Police and driven to Rockhampton watch-house.

There I was photographed, finger-printed and released with a "notice to apear" at Yeppoon Magistrate’s Court on 7 August, on a charge of simple trespass.

Jim, Culley, Emily, Yulangi, and Mark are all still at large in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, and live firing has not yet resumed.

In another one of those military lies, the army PR said on Friday that they were unconcerned about trespassers, that we were in no danger, they wouldn’t look for us, and we were having no impact on the games. That was when they had no idea at all where we were. On Sunday they went frantic and spent considerable resources searching for our friends (including dogs and helicopters) and failing to find them.

On Monday morning Police said they were very concerned about safety from wildfire, and asked us to call our friends out of the area – a request we don’t believe, and that we refused.

It should be an important lesson for us all that the military is so practiced and proficient at lying.

They pretend to be omnipotent, yet three groups have attempted trespass and all succeeded. They pretend to be unconcerned, and yet they went frantic that Sunday trying to find our friends. They pretend we have no impact.

Our task, like that of Franz Jaggersatter, is to ignore the deception and propaganda, to maintain our faith in peace and justice, and to keep our eyes on the prize when it comes to our shared task of ending war.

My experience in Shoalwater Bay was one of awe and reverence for creation, the love of all people for each other, including the soldiers, and the power of following one’s heart and conscience.

I’m already thinking about how we can improve our performance in 2011.


Bryan Law, 55

author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Wed Jul 22, 2009 04:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mark Palmer was captured late yesterday afternoon after addressing members of the US military and the Australian military from the top of the Polygon Mountain inside the Shoalwater Military Base.

Mark stood on top of the polygonic pillar and addressed the military with comments like:

"No more Ozzie blood for Uncle Sam" and
"End the US alliance"
"Stop the Killing now"
"Withdraw from Afghanistan"
"No more Iraqs"

He was there for some time as 5 US and Australian soldiers climbed the 150 metres to escort Mark to the ground and out of the base.

He spent a few hours conversing with regular and reservist soldiers at the 'green gate' checkpoint before being arrested by Qld police for trespass.

He did tell the police that he had justification under international law - particularly in respect to Australian involvement in illegal war. Kaufi Annan had labelled Iraq an illegal invasion and illegal war. However the Qld police were unmoved and removed him from the Base.

Mark quoted Malalai Joya, an Afghani women's activist and parliamentarian, who is calling for the Australian parliament to immediately withdraw troops from this war because their involvement in Afghanistan simply services US strategic and military interests and does not serve to enhance the safety of the Afghani people.

author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 01:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yulangi and Emily and Culley and Jim are still in the Shoalwater Site.

Mark Palmer in the Shoalwater Military Base
Mark Palmer in the Shoalwater Military Base

Emily and Yulangi remain in the site
Emily and Yulangi remain in the site

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author by Martin Luther King House of Nonviolencepublication date Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

MEDIA RELEASE: Last Two Activists Hand Themselves In at End of Exercises

You can call: Yulanji Bardon 0432036871 for further information

TWO ANTI WAR ACIVISTS remained for 11 days in the Shoalwater Military Exercise Area until last Sunday, officially the last day of the joint Australia-US exercises. The two, Yulanji Bardon and Emily Nielsen, turned themselves in to Range Control and were escorted from the premises by military police, under arrest for trespass.

The presence of Ms Bardon and Ms Nielsen and 5 other activists prevented the live fire phase of the exercises from being reinstated. They were able to meet their goal of staying till the end of the Talisman Sabre Exercises which represented the largest training in ‘interoperability’ between the US and Australia.

Emily Nielsen [19] said: "These exercises are not just a ten-day long game of laser tag as Brigadier Bob Brown and the media would have us believe. They represent Australia joining the United States in the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan where thousands of civilians have been killed."

Ms Bardon and Ms Neilsen lived on rations and slept in a tent in the Western and southern sectors of the area while Jim Dowling and Culley Palmer had stayed in the Eastern area. Their presence posed a difficulty for the military who were forced to limit live firing and conduct a ‘quiet’ invasion. They dodged helicopters, military dogs and avoided thousands of military personnel refuting the idea of the ‘all-pervasive security state’.

"The ideas that the military offers protection and that terrorism can be overcome with military means are in glaring need of revision. " Ms Bardon said. "If two young women with a compass and limited ‘tactical experience’ can get away with sight-seeing in a military base over the course of eleven days without detection, there may need to be an inquiry into just how effective these training exercises actually are."

Yulanji and Emily entered the base on the 16th July with 5 other activists in two groups: the Jaegerstatter 3 and the Grana 4.

5 of the group have been arrested and subject to charges of trespass with notices to appear. Yulanji and Emily have bail conditions not to go near military installations.

Bryan Law has a notice to appear in court on 7th August. Mark Palmer has a notice to appear later in the month.

Jake Bolton appeared on Friday 24th pleaded guilty and was fined $200.

Jim Dowling and Culley Palmer were not arrested but walked out of the area on Thursday.

Another 4 Christian nonviolent activists, Margaret Pestorius, Jarrod Saul McKenna, Jessica Morrison and Simon Moyle [the Bonhoeffer 4], were fined $2500 in an earlier action to stop the exercises. They were discovered by men playing ‘insurgents’.

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