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Let’s not bludge when it comes to solving ISIS

There’s lots of stuff out there about Islamic State (IS) right now. They look scary. They wear hoods, have big knives and love to yell out loud. The high definition footage of their atrocities is beyond the pale. Australia is currently spending 500 million dollars a year to fight them. Seems like a very big deal. Here’s a catch up if you don’t know much about it, from the US perspective (seeing as they tell us our foreign policy anyway):

Now I condemn all violence. I would love to see IS disappear. That’s why I am writing this.

Australian and US strategy in the Middle East won’t make IS disappear, it will help IS get stronger- especially if we put soldiers on the ground.

Since October, Australia has been helping the US bomb IS. Politically in Australia this sounds great. No Australian lives at risk; we find the bad guys, blow them up and fly home for a gin and tonic. Things on the ground are a bit more complex though.

Iraq is made up of many different groups. E.g:

  • There’s the Iraqi Army; that has continually crumbled since 2011. It is now being backed by Iranian volunteers and funding, as well as US and Australian backing. There are also other groups.
  • Shi’ite militias that are allied with the government but don’t support it and;
  • Sunni militias opposed to both the Iraqi government and IS.

When our bombs fall, we don’t always hit hooded guys. We have also bombed a slew of civilian casualties in IS controlled areas, but also in Sunni militia controlled regions.

When the bombs fall on your town, you don’t go “oops, they thought we were Islamic State- you rascally Americans made a mistake!” Nope.

You wail, you mourn for your dead family members and you vow revenge.

Iraqis in these areas see the US bombings as support of the Baghdad Shi’ite government. So men, who want to defend their families, join up with a group, that might be crazy, but at least they’re defending your family against the Americans!

This is the very reason IS films its evil on high definition cameras and posts high quality videos. Not only do we drive Iraqis and Syrians to join IS in response to our violence, our image obsessed media spends all of its time talking about the atrocities that the evil barbarian terrorists conveniently uploaded onto youtube.

And our political leaders can score easy points by looking strong against them.

In short, IS knows us. Many have been fighting the US and Australia since we invaded Iraq in 2003, they’ve studied us, and now they’re playing us like fiddles.

Our political leaders, instead of dealing with issues such as, how to give Central Queensland a sustainable future, can just stutter terrorism and they look competent.

This gives resonance when local parliamentarians like Michelle Landry MP and Mayor Margret Strelow; instead of having to demonstrate vision for the region, simply wheel out the old chestnut of ‘we had a conversation with someone and there might be some more tanks in Rockhampton’. Just like they were saying in 2013, when I was last up here.

Australia is facing many problems. Global warming, Aboriginal deaths in custody, asylum seekers, the escalating price of living, being dependent on fossil fuels with only two weeks reserve at any one time, record rates of depression and suicide, an ageing population- to name a few. But what do I read when I get on the news everyday? Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. New laws, new weapons, new wars.

If these guys were in Tasmania, I’d understand. But they’re half a world away. What are we so scared of?

IS, which is really just the battle hardened remnants of Sadaam’s old Iraqi Army combined with people wanting to defend their families from murderous invaders (yep us) know how to twist our media nipples and wet-willy our political ignorance.

Forget the people flying to join them- their numbers are tiny- more rhetoric for our lazy politicians to try and look tough for us on national security. It’s not politics anymore, but a verbal Mr. Universe, featuring Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and another guy who sounds like Arnie.

IS desperately wants to drag Australia into another ground war. Not only do we legitimise them as a significant international force, they gain more funding from Sunni supporters in the Middle East, who are frightened of Iran gaining too much power.

They also gain more recruits, surrounded by horrendous violence from both sides, go with their only option for defending themselves. Or they run away and become asylum seekers…

Australians are hard workers. We pride ourselves on it.

Right now, our military is spending half a billion dollars a year fighting a threat that grows stronger with every bomb we drop and our political and military leaders only know how to scream ‘more bombs!’.

Bombs and guns won’t solve this one, or many of the other challenges facing us. As a country we have to work harder to solve these problems, or our children and grandchildren will have to pick up our weight.

Do you want your grandkids saying:

“Gee, wish granddad didn’t leave climate change to us to solve. What a bludger.”?

The Blind and the Blind-folded

Thanks Jim. Part of my decision to contest the charge was being unsure if I could keep going through this without retraumatising myself. Jim kept at it and asked me if I felt like testifying. I felt I was and Jim gave me my own “day in court”. Thanks a lot mate.

Workers BushTelegraph

Which Side Are We On?

Last week Anne, Eleni and I drove 1800 kms to go to court in the chilly city of Geelong. About 10 others came from Melbourne and Geelong to attend the final court case arising from last year’s Swan Island actions, and bear witness to the power of community and resistance.

In court some of us recounted once again the assaults by Special Forces on Swan Island on October 2nd 2014. On that day four of my companions were assaulted, stripped, and had hessian bags placed over their heads with the words, “Welcome to the bag motherfuckers!” *

However it appears even with bags over their heads they managed to see more than the police officers on the scene!

The case went like this:
Sargent Knight gave evidence about arresting me with three others. When I tried to question him about the condition in which he…

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The War Criminal and the Scapegoat

There are two men gaining more and more media attention in Australia. One is a criminal, the other is a doctor.

Kamleh was an Australian paediatrician who has joined the Islamic State, claiming there was humanitarian need. No matter how you feel about the Islamic State, I think you’d find it pretty hard to argue that the children who live under IS control should be denied adequate medical care, especially as children are sometimes the innocent victims of allied airstrikes in Syria.

Australian Police have issued a warrant for Kamleh’s immediate arrest, should he return to Australia, for travelling to a “restricted zone”. Who gave the Australian government the right to decide what is and isn’t a restricted zone? The Australian government has the right to legislate for the safety of Australians, but restricting freedom of travel is a restriction of civil rights.

If this was a guy who was threatening to blow up the Opera House or to kill people when he returns to Australia, than I would support subjecting him to due process if he returns home at all.

If he was bragging of murdering innocent civilians, I would support arresting him and trialling him for war crimes.

Instead we want to arrest a man who helps to heal sick and injured kids. Kamleh has even distanced himself from IS atrocities and policies:

“I have no input or responsibility over the political or military actions of the state, if they are correct, I wish them progression, if they are not, that is between them and God” .

Kamleh has every right to travel where he wishes. Children, all children, even those living in the midst of a barbaric regime have the right to expert medical care. Kamleh claims there is a shortage of medical staff in the area, if that’s true than I have no problem with him being in Syria and helping kids.

Kamleh has appeared in propaganda for the Islamic State and of that, I am not supportive, if that is a crime than we can decide on the legitimacy of that law should he return to Australia.

Kamleh may be a criminal for appearing in a commercial for IS. This is true.

The second man has committed crimes that go beyond being part of propaganda.

Not only is he not being held accountable for his heinous violent crimes, he is even profiteering from it and building a political career on the backs of his murdered victims.

Major General Jim Molan’s political star is on the rise. Set to run for the Liberals in NSW next election, the man is almost guaranteed a spot in our Upper House. Indeed, some have touted him as our next Defence Minister.

Molan has had a long military career, an expert on Indonesian relations, he is the go to guy for any Coaliation government. For the last few weeks he has received media airplay, talking up sending more troops to Iraq.

Molan has much experience in Iraq.

In November and December 2004, Molan, integrated as a commander with the US Military (whilst still technically an Australian officer) planned and executed Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah.

Phantom Fury was one of the most evil acts of the invasion of Iraq and with an Australian commander at the helm; Australia has blood on its hands– and most of us have never heard of it.

Between 30,000 and 50,000 civilians were in the densely packed city when it was declared a free fire zone in November 2004. Cluster munitions, white-phosphorous and depleted uranium were used in this zone (the cancer and birth deformity rates of Fallujah are now ten times higher than Hiroshima after the dropping of the nuclear bomb), it is speculated that 4000-8000 civilians were killed as a direct result of the battle, many were women who refused to leave their men behind.

Men of “fighting age” were not allowed to leave the city- that’s any man, without trial or reason to decide who was an insurgent- and understandably women and their children stayed with them. We don’t know how many women and children died in the aftermath for want of food and medical care, but the United Nations Special Rapporteur did say that hunger and depravity of civilian populations were used as a weapon in the battle by the Molan led American forces.

Molan’s Legacy. The once bustling Fallujah in November 2004.

Unfortunately, no investigation, no tribunal, no accountability has happened for Molan or any of the leaders of the brutal 2004 Massacre of Fallujah. Molan may be a war criminal, but instead of investigating him, he gets the ear of the media and a bright political career.

This is what Australia has become, the media crucifies Kamleh, a man we have no evidence against (except that he is a doctor for children and appearing in a glitzy add). Molan, a probable war criminal, is rewarded with praise, media attention and a political career. Kill kids, we promote you, help kids, we condemn you.

Welcome to Australia in 2015.

The unanswered question on asylum seekers

The Asylum Seeker issue is one of the issues that makes me the saddest as an Australian and a human being. What it must be like to be sweltering on Nauru, with no security or certainty at all in your future, I’ll never know.

One of the underlying, subconscious arguments of the whole thing, is that people are trying to get to Australia to enjoy the economic benefits Australians enjoy. Now why Australia is so wealthy is one question I’ll leave for now, but has mainstream Australia considered that the asylum seekers who come here are from a few select regions around the world. Rohingyans from Burma, Iranians, Hazaras and Pashtuns from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tamils from Sri Lanka, then people from the politically disintegrating Middle East- they are all from warzones where many people fear for their lives.

If asylum seekers, or “boat-people” were just coming here to steal our wealth, why from so few places? Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines are full of the world’s poorest people. Whilst not starving, you wouldn’t call what most of them have as a life as “vast economic opportunity”. If asylum seekers are trying to take our jobs, steal our wealth or make us hard working white people poor, why are they all exclusively from war zones and not from our brutally poor neighbours?

The answer is, that asylum seekers aren’t at all seeking a monetarily rich life. They’re seeking safety, seeking asylum from warzones that our global economic system helped create. They’re not mindless creatures intent on stealing our dollars and making us all Muslim. They’re people, like those photographed in the last few days crossing the border into Turkey:

Asylum seekers, boat people are leaving areas where their life is at risk to places in the world who made laws saying that we will look after them. We made these laws and ratified the UN Refugee Convention because we used to believe that if your life is in danger, if your family is threatened with death, we’ll take care of you.

Now we believe the rhetoric of lazy politicians and the shadowy fear in our own hearts that looks to this Australian, like selfishness of the most ignorant kind.

Interoperability- even my spell check rejects it

In a few weeks I will be going to Rockhampton to try and slow down US led war preparations. Talisman Sabre are large biennial War Exercises that take place near Rockhampton in the pristine Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area on Darumbal Land.

Australia is currently deployed with US forces in Iraq and our Special Forces work directly under the command of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) in any place in the world, most likely Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and other areas of strategic interest to our economy.

Talisman Sabre is sold to the Australian public as practice to defend this continent, playing on White Australian fears of an Asian invasion. We are scared that perhaps Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, with a population more than 10 times of Australia’s might want to invade. Of course, when you look past your fears to a bit of logic, there is no imminent Indonesian invasion.

Indonesia is not a stable State. From Papua to Aceh and beyond, the Indonesian military spends almost all of its time and resources just keeping the country together. A stable country without rowdy locals wanting a fair share of their resources, say the Papuans wanting some kind of say in their 4.6 billion dollar (per year) copper and gold mine that currently flows into the coffers of US and Australian companies. That’s why the US and Australia help arm and train the Indonesian military. Do you do that to a country your scared might invade you?

So if there is no imminent invasion from Indonesia, why do Australia and the US spend so much time and money on exercises in Rockhampton?

I started writing this piece because in my mind, I couldn’t quite grasp why the Australia was spending so much money on housing troops in Darwin. Oh, I get why the US wants them there- kind of.

The idea is that in any conflict with China over the strategic Straits near Singapore, Australian based Marines and probably in the future B1 bombers, can strike first against the Chinese (who are also Australia’s largest trading partners- you know that nice lifestyle you have- in the last ten years you can thank Chinese-Australian booming trade for that). Also, as a bonus, if Indonesia starts disintegrating (I don’t think it will any time soon) you have troops there to send in and control the resources you need.

Talisman Sabre is about bringing the Australian Military into interoperability with the US Military. Australia is the 5th largest buyer in the world of US arms. We buy their planes and guns, than we train, so when we bomb and kill people in Iraq (up to 740 civilians have been killed by Allied forces in the latest War in Iraq). Since 2001, Australia has supported a large War of Terror that has killed 1.3 million civilians. That is the fruit of the US Alliance. That is where our billions go.

In a way though, whilst Talisman Sabre is definitely large- it might be highly symbolic. US troops in Darwin, and nuclear capable B1 bombers, are expensive. Australia is currently spending nearly one billion dollars upgrading RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory and Amberley near Brisbane to house and upgrade large planes like the B1. But more than this, every day the US Marines are in Darwin, they are training and integrating with Australian forces. Exercises are taking place almost constantly that keep the Australian Military as an Auxiliary to the US Forces.

If China and the US go to war as, in my opinion, the US seems intent on doing, Australia will now be automatically on the side of the US, is that best for Australia? The decision has already been made by our politicians. Unless we as a population decide to do something about it.

I

US Marines showing Australians how to use their equipment

I’m going up to Rockhampton to disrupt Talisman Sabre in July, not just because I don’t like war- but the future of my country is already being sold out to US corporate interests.

And I want us to take it back.

2015 Frontier Wars March- 50 meters that defines a country

From the website of the Australian War Memorial:

“Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.”

On the 25th of April, Australia commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Anzac landings on Gallipoli, Turkey. Since that day in 1915, Australia, particularly white Australia, has looked back on Anzac Day as the day Australia was born. Nationally, as has been reinforced since the 1980’s when most of the men involved on the day had died off, the Anzac commemorations got bigger and bigger.

There has been a lot written about why Anzac Day has become one of the defining days of Australian identity. I will only say here, that it has clearly been engineered by political and military leaders to build unquestioning loyalty to the State. Allowing politicians to lead us into whatever murderous invasion they like to distract us from the real political and economic issues of our time, like climate change, environmental destruction of fragile ecological systems to feed our economy and rampant arms spending based on out-dated theories of international relations that promise a threat of large scale inter-State war.

Great.

Now let’s pretend that Anzac Day has credence to be our national day, let’s say that those poor young blokes slaughtered on Gallipoli, on both sides, actually had a stake in giving Australia freedom (personally I think Tom Barker and Vida Goldstein who both faced persecution and gaol in protection of freedom of speech and association in Australia during the war are the defenders of freedom) or prosperity. With the dying off of the last Anzac’s, many of whom did not go to Anzac Day marches or talk much of that day and the many more of whom died of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide from the trauma suffered in the war- modern politicians faced a dilemma. How can we keep this a day about honouring our Anzac’s, when they’re all dead? The solution was the phrase I started this piece off with. Anzac Day is about all veterans, dead and alive of all wars that Australia has been a part of.

In 1788, when the first fleet landed in Australia, the grounds of conflict were sewn. In 1789, according to historian, Chris Warren, the White Coloniser’s were short of ammunition and the tools to fix their muskets. The colony had spread to Norfolk Island where the convicts were planning a mutiny and to Parramatta to open up enough farming land to try and feed the colony. Tensions were high; Indigenous People had been wondering when the new comers would leave their land.

According to Warren, a mid-level Marine took it upon himself to take a small boat, travel around Port Jackson and down to La Perouse. There, using vials of smallpox, for some unknown reason carried on the First Fleet, they infected blankets before handing them over to the First Nations Peoples. The effect of smallpox on the Indigenous Peoples was nothing short of devastating. The disease had never before been present in the population and may have killed half of the populations who became infected. It was an act of biological warfare.

By 1816, the New South Wales colony was expanding south west from Sydney. It was driven predominately by greedy land holders like John Macarthur looking to expand their land and wealth. A drought hit the land and Indigenous People jumped the fences that the White settlers had put up around waterways for their sheep and cattle. They took some sheep or cattle for food as they needed.

The Settlers literally went up in arms. Armed marines and police went out and executed Indigenous men, women and children. Indigenous Australians retaliated, raiding outposts and farms, burning crops and killing farmers. Such was ferocity of the conflict that Governor Macquarie stated “All Aborigines from Sydney onwards are to be made prisoners of war and if they resist, they are to be shot and their bodies hung from trees in the most conspicuous places near where they fall, so as to strike terror into the heart of the surviving natives.”

A declaration of war.

There you’ve read two tiny chapters in the Frontier Wars that started in 1788. People killing and dying defending this country from a greedy, bloodthirsty invader. Babies massacred, people poisoned. Marines called in to fight pitch battles in the Nepean- everything that any historian, amateur or otherwise would see as a war. Fortunately there are loads of materials coming out from historians like Tim Bottoms that document what evidence remains of this massive, wide-ranging conflict.

And yet, on Saturday, at the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, when we were supposed to be commemorating all soldiers in all wars, descendants of the indigenous people who fought and died, descendants of the White Settlers who fought, killed and died in the Frontier Wars, were denied the right to march. In the previous four years, the War Memorial had refused to allow the party to march officially. The Frontier Wars commemorators had marched anyway, unofficially on the end of the official march. I was amongst them this year and last year.

The 2015 Frontier Wars Commemoration March

This year, the police were more aggressive and pushy. Rather than stopping us just short of the main ceremony with a police line, we were being pushed back from the start. A gap of 50 metres was kept between those of us holding signs remembering the battles of the Frontier Wars and the air cadets. A 50 metre strip that denied the Black history of Australia. The police became pushy and aggressive the further we went. Eventually, under the leadership of a certain elder, we capitulated, despite police aggression, and turned away. The real history of our country denied for a white-washed version. Instead of wanting to admit that Australia was born in the blood of the Frontier Wars, we claim the catastrophe of Gallipoli as our mainstream heritage.

This is not just a case of racism. I am not a bleeding heart Indigenous Rights supporter. I am a selfish person. I don’t want my family and descendants to go off and fight and die in more Empire led wars, like Gallipoli, like Iraq and Afghanistan. Whilst we deny our real selves and build the false story of Gallipoli, building our national identity without admitting our real history, we claim our values as a nation are derived from one military campaign one hundred years ago. Our false sense of identity is one of Empirical outland- first for the British, now for the US.

Whilst we deny our Frontier Wars, we deny admitting that our role since 1914 has been a lackey following our Masters into wars for resources. We do this, because subconsciously, we are worried that Indonesia or China might one day do to us what we did to the Aborigines. Not just destroy us, but then forget about us too. So we suck up to the most powerful Empire of the day and hope that this will guarantee us a defence against this future.

In doing so we become the invaders, the murderers of the West Papuans, the 1.3 million people killed in the US led War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We spend our treasure on wars that we do not have any national interest in, aside from our fear that one day we may be invaded and killed.

This notion, that a large continent could again be invaded by force is laughable. The Japanese, even without US intervention had no hope of doing it in World War Two (see Peter Stanley’s work- Japan bombed US bases in Australia). Indonesia needs our military aid and training just to keep itself together and China is our largest trading partner. There are no military threats to Australia. And if we could remember our Frontier Wars, acknowledge deeply and truly who we are and how we got here, we might have a chance of learning that. We might have a chance of growing up, of telling the USA that we won’t support them in aggressive, illegal wars for oil. Our sisters, brothers, daughters and sons won’t have to waste themselves in foreign wars of aggression.

In the must read book, 1984, George Orwell wrote prophetically “Who controls the past, controls the future”. The Frontier Wars and the 50 metre gap between the real history of our country and the engineered history control our arms spending, our aid cuts, our foreign policy as a US lackey. That’s why I was there on Saturday, and despite the result, I will keep going back. The arc of the universe is long, but inshallah, it bends towards justice.

The war we didn’t notice

Great piece….

andypaine

Years ago, when I was involved in much less activism than I am today, I used to play footy with a number of guys who were in the Australian army. One of these guys missed a chunk of the season when he had to go to Afghanistan on service. When he got back, I asked him what it had been like over there. He told me he didn’t want to talk about it.

I instantly realised what a stupid question it was. Of course he didn’t want to talk about it! I was genuinely interested in what the situation was like in Afghanistan, but I had asked him as if he was getting back from a holiday, completely ignorant of the trauma and mental struggle that a soldier in a warzone has to deal with.

I still cringe when I recall that moment, but I also think that in that…

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Really Reclaiming Australia

Before I went to Saturday’s No Room for Racism Rally at Federation Square, I had massive doubts. I don’t see the “far-Right” as any kind of enemy, in many ways I don’t blame them for grabbing hold of things like halal certification with the same vitriol as some people grab onto 9/11 conspiracy theories, or some Christians the return of Jesus. Like the Anzac Myth, these stories help humans explain their existence and give them a framework in which to operate in the world. No one knows more about this than mainstream media organisations and politicians in parliamentary politics.

Since 1788, White Australians have been controlled through fear of Asians. Asians who are not white and don’t speak English. We had the drummed up fear of Chinese immigration during the Gold Rush, than the Japanese, than the Communists (from Russia, China and Vietnam- all Asian countries) now we have Muslims, the majority of whom live in Asia.

For many working class Australians life is not that easy. I’m not just talking about a seeming lack of access to resources- cars are expensive to run, housing is expensive- no-one gets ahead. And yet the message from our pop culture is that, with hard work and smarts ANYONE can get ahead. When people don’t, they get agitated. When long hours in dreary work after many, many years sees them not gaining more or better material rewards- they build up anger. The easiest people to blame in this situation is someone different to us. Someone NOT working, someone who wears a headscarf or speaks another language someone with a different skin colour.

Anti- Chinese Cartoon from 1888. The Chinese are depicted as the source of all of our problems…

When politicians say “Stop the Boats”, they’re tapping into that fear of the Other. There are lots of things the Australian government could have done rather than spend 9 billion dollars on Operation Slipper in Afghanistan, and a total of 50 billion dollars on conflicts since 2001 that would have made Australia and the world a safer place. The real reason successive governments have gone to futile wars that have no strategic advantage for anyone except arms companies is to play the political agenda. Drumming up the fear of terrorism keeps people like my Reclaim Australia friends from asking other questions about Australian society. Like, who decides what makes it on to the news each night?

Reclaim Australia: “Why is my country stuffed?”

TV and Politicians: “Those people over there who are different to you”

Reclaim Australia: “Bloody Muslims”

Politically I think it was a crazy move by Reclaim Australia to have a Rally Easter Saturday. I sincerely believe they had more sympathetic supporters than who turned up at the rallies. These people are more the camping, sport watching, beer swilling types than the go to a rally in the middle of a long weekend type. The only ones who turned up were a fringe. And I respect them like hell for that. They turned up for something they believed in. Yes, they are misguided- but they took time out from the 1 million other things they could be doing with their lives and stood together for something. It’s a racist motive, but I’ve already explained why I understand, if I can’t approve of that. I have far more time for people who live genuinely in their ideas and try to work with others to shape the world than people who just sit on the side lines and criticise others for having a crack.

(That’s kind of the end of Part One- the next Part is wordy and explains my experience and how I would have liked to see things done. Thanks for reading this far if you stop now- I really appreciate it).

I was more worried about the Channel 7 and Channel 9 news crews running around looking for any sign of tension, any sign of physical violence. And ignoring calm conversations and people who were on “opposite sides” helped each other out (and there was plenty). This is how nightly news works. They don’t want substance, they want emotion- something inspires anger, fear, elation. That keeps you watching and the viewing numbers up. Any substance or depth means they might lose the race and the other channel will get the advertising dollars. I would recommend NOT watching nightly news at all. Its not news and it won’t inform you. Read papers or the internet. If you have half an hour or an hour to watch news and that’s all you have, watch something that at least has a little more breadth like ABC or SBS.

So I went out on Saturday not wanting to blockade or even be physical. The Muslim population in Australia are generally scared. They are the scapegoats of corrupt political leaders and lazy media. So I went in solidarity, hoping that if Reclaim Australia made the news at all, then Muslims watching it would see more people at the counter-rally. I still think this was a better way to run the day. No clashes. We will just have far more people.

Also letting people assemble creates space for conversation. I got in the middle of several scuffles on Saturday. I got swiped by Reclaim Australia people, I got swiped at by No Room for Racism people- sometimes I didn’t know who it was ripping my hat off of my head swearing abuse at me. But when violence happens we lose space to solve problems together- so I got in the way as best I could. I never felt threatened either. Sometimes you get scared in physical situations, but I never felt like either the angry looking Reclaim men, or the angry looking no room for racism men were going to punch me or someone else, but I felt fearless of this- the situation and people are much less dramatic than channel nine makes out.

The tension was extremely high, the mood foul. I observed 2 things that should make you feel hope for humanity. Firstly, the fact that of the thousands of people at Federation Square, less than 100 on either side engaged in picking out targets on the other side and yelling at them.

Secondly, I got in the middle of lots of scuffles. More than 5 at least. At one point an elderly man on crutches who was clearly with the Reclaim Australia Rally was blocked by police and the No Room mob. Things got tense and I saw he was just trying to leave, but worked up and angry, the Counter Rally started pushing against him. Not with arms, but as numbers swelled in the line, he was getting caught up in the crowd. I managed to get in front of him and yelled out “make way for a disabled man!” (best language I could think of at the time). People turned to see who it was. This man had an Australian Flag flying high, and Australian flags pinned on his hat. Amongst the people looking at him were punkier looking anarchists, with black jackets. One of these had nearly turned on me earlier when I got in the middle of his fight, but when he saw the elderly man behind me this time, he relaxed and stepped back. I got the man to the edge of the edgy crowd and said “Happy Easter” he said the same to me and he wandered off.

The people who came out for Reclaim Australia on Saturday are angry, confused and they truly believe that halal certification of food is a threat. Unless we become a more democratic and just society, extremist groups like these will get numbers and flourish.

I think as a country, we can do better and we damn well better try. A little less worrying about the cricket and a little more worrying about how much money we want to give to the Gina Rinehart’s and Rupert Murdoch’s of the world. To me, Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten, Reclaim Australia and the minimal violence we saw on Saturday are the symptoms of a corrupt system that exploits the fears of the poor for the profit of the rich. All of us need to start working to do better before we dump our prosperity into the dust bin of history.

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Land of the Mourning Star

My time in Papua was a great experience, filled with sadness and pain for the Papuans whose land and way of life has been taken, or who live under that threat. Many have been traumatised from either one experience of violent oppression; years of structural violence oppressing their traditional way of life, and often both.

On Biak Island I met a young man who had gone through one of the most traumatic experiences I have ever heard of. I am going to share his story. A warning, it is violent and sexual in nature. Skip the next 2 paragraphs if you like. I include it because the man was my age. Whilst I was thinking about what I might like to do with my life, that same year he was struggling for his life and his future.

John* (name changed for his protection) assembled at the Biak water tower in July 1998. On the morning of July 6, Indonesian soldiers opened fire on the assembled, unarmed mass of people who had camped asking for freedom from Indonesian rule. John was not shot, but caught up in the mass arrest that happened. I’ve been arrested before and held in a watch house. John was not taken for due processing though. Instead, along with hundreds of others, he was loaded on to a naval ship and taken out to sea.

There, many Papuans were tortured and killed. John was forced to watch as a female relative was raped by an Indonesian soldier. The woman’s genitalia was then cut off and shoved into John’s mouth. Laughing, the soldiers then pushed John overboard. Others had been forced overboard, some tied up, some with hands or heads severed. Miraculously, John managed to make it back to Biak Island, only to be rounded up and sent to prison.

People ask, what can be done to help, and I am thinking about and reflecting on what my role might be.

One thing to consider in Australia is our country’s role. When I was explaining West Papua to my mate he said “They need an army!” Armies fight wars. They attack the enemy, kill the enemy and take over. I, obviously, have major moral problems with this approach that dehumanises the enemy and ultimately ourselves. This approach to solving conflict has caused severe damage to our social fabric. Aside from the bloody deaths on the field, thinking about the resources we put into weapons and weapons research, think about how far we could go in feeding the whole human race, curing diseases and educating everyone. Wouldn’t this bring peace and stability in a healthier way than building nuclear missiles?

Practically, though, to propose that West Papua could successfully arm and fight off the Indonesian army which represents the economic and political interests of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia is ludicrous. The West Papuans are facing many challenges as the forces of globalisation mix and clash with their traditional way of life. The Papuan self-determination movement, does not offer a simple answer to the problems of development, they simply want Papuans on the ground to be the ones to decide. Not from Jakarta and not from Washington DC.

The best foundations for this future will not be a bloody overthrown of Indonesian rule. Strategically, against powerful forces of global militarism, a violent conflict is destined to lose. A non-violent struggle that calls for a just peace is the best chance and best hope for the Papuans. This is easy to say in an Australian lounge room, but people are living it out on the ground.

In 2004, Filip Karma defiantly raised the Morning Star flag, the symbol of West Papuan independence. For this act, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail. In Jayapura, I heard that the Indonesian authorities had offered to release Karma if he apologised. Karma has refused, saying the Indonesian government should apologise to him. This single act of non-violent resistance to Indonesian rule is an inspiration and shows that the real power of violence and oppression lay in our acceptance and submission to it.

morning star

I met many activists. One woman was harassed by police on her way to school. She was wearing a t-shirt that showed the Morning Star flag. The police officer said “You can’t wear that, you will provoke us into attacking you.” This brave woman, who had a black singlet on underneath stood up off her motor scooter and took her tshirt off in front of the two men. This act, shamed the men and a car of Muslim Indonesians behind her scolded the police. “How dare you force a young woman to strip naked in public!” the police had tried to use the threat of violence to intimidate a young woman seeking freedom, in an act of creative non-violence, she complied to the letter and exposed the cruelty and dehumanisation behind the occupation of Papua. This kind of bravery, creativity and appealing to the human in the oppressor, so we can see our common humanity, is a much stronger and effective way of facing down men with guns, than getting more guns and shooting back.

The Papuans also have to face the might of my country’s army.

Australian Special Forces (our Special Air Services and Commandos) train Indonesian special forces such as Kopassus and Detachment 88. These forces are responsible for, at least, hundreds of murders of West Papuans calling for more freedom. There are complex strategic and international relational reasons why Australia trains people who are known human rights abusers. The most important reason though, is gold. You can read about the history of Freeport Mine elsewhere online, but suffice to say, whilst the Papuans struggle under the Indonesian heel, Australia, the United Kingdom and United States companies profit from their massive gold deposits.

These kids were awesome surfers!

These kids were awesome surfers!

It’s a simple case of pacification. Use violence to kill or scare the people on the land, and you can take whatever you want- you pacify them. A long way from the United States, and ignored by many Australians- it is easy for Indonesian military figures to protect their own incomes from the mine, using the considerable resources of the Indonesian Military. This military is armed and trained by Australian and US sources. Indeed, think-tank reports on the issue call for greater military cooperation with Indonesia. Human rights of Papuans? Not important enough. The lives of five boys gunned down in the mountains of Papua in December by Indonesian military? Self-defence.

Going to West Papua, visiting with people like Benny Giay, a church leader who uses his church to speak out against Indonesian oppression and violence- where his way of life and the way of life of his people are under threat is the reason for his activism- inspires me. I thought I was going to West Papua to shine a light on their suffering. But the people of West Papua shone their light on me. Their strength, their resilience, their indelible smiles and laughs in the midst of death and oppression lit my soul up. My stance and small actions against Australian militarism and violence suddenly seemed more important.

After Swan Island, when I was assaulted by Australian Special Forces, I had a trough of emotion where I thought standing up against such violence was pointless and even a waste of time. I even thought for a while there probably wasn’t a God if this kind of suffering (mine was small, but my mind swelled at the thought of others going through worse just for being born in the wrong country) is allowed to exist.

But meeting with people whose lives are threatened by my countries violence and economic exploitation, who have lost or stand to lose their way of life passed down for thousands of years so we can profit from their gold has done more than reinvigorate me. It has given me new life. I met women and men, hearing their stories of hope, strength and even reconciliation with so-called enemies showed me that whilst people like these could cultivate their humanity in these conditions, than God at least lived in them.

My actions may seem small and stupid and sometimes an embarrassment to my family, but people are dying. The Earth which sustains us is being ripped up- my faith, my attempts at doing something, no matter how small and how imperfect, are of vital importance in an age where celebrity gossip, home renovations and sport events are the dominant media story over peace, conflict and justice.

Now I want to study harder, live deeper, plan better and do more against violence and oppression which impoverishes my country, and kills my neighbours. My anti-militarism work and that of my friends and allies is so much more important and needs more effort. What else could I give my time to but life itself?

Please consider supporting the Federal Republic of West Papua’s Consulate in Melbourne. It is one step to self-determination:

http://dfait.federalrepublicofwestpapua.org/support/

The resilience of the people and the culture in Papua was inspirational.

The resilience of the people and the culture in Papua was inspirational.

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Dale was an important elder...

Dale was an important elder…

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My take on Swan Island Peace Convergence 2014

Visit swanislandpeace.org for more info:

Two weeks ago this morning (Melbourne time) 7 friends and myself were sitting in the back of a police van on one of Australia’s most secretive military spaces. 4 a Catholic Worker, a Baptist Minister, a potential fellow CPTer and one of the quietest guys I know (walk into a bar) are in good spirits. They had gotten onto Swan Island military base in the early hours of the morning, they had seen much of the secretive island, had taken many good photos and had planted seeds on the bases gardens, to represent in the Baptist Minister Simon Moyle’s words “the mustard seed of change”. In 5 years of attending the Swan Island peace convergence, this was the third successful entering of one of Australia’s most secretive bases. Another four of us, myself included, had had a slightly different experience. We had all been hooded, stripped naked and assaulted as we discovered first-hand the training techniques of the people on the island.

Swan Island first came to public attention, when in a sleepy little town on the Victorian Coast, 4 Special Air Services soldiers had died in a car crash on the way from Queenscliff, the nearest town, over the only bridge to Swan Island. Alcohol was later stated as the reason the car had driven off the narrow bridge and the men had all died.

The island is a training centre of Special Air Services (SAS) 4 Squadron. 4 Squadron was raised following the 2001 September 11 attacks. One role of 4 Squadron is to work in so called capture and kill intelligence missions. This is, finding a person reportedly linked to terrorist or insurgent activities in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and other places that Australia is secretly waging war, kidnapping them, interrogating and possibly executing them. Other groups train on the island such as Australian Security Intelligence Services (ASIS) our equivalent of the CIA. What actually happens on the island, and what the results of this training are kept very secret by the Australian government. A good reason to expose this island and Australia’s role in US led wars of aggression on poor people. The first protest took place in 2010. All actions at Queenscliff and on the island have been conducted in a spirit of non-violence, inspired in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2010, four peace activists, distressed at Australia’s ongoing role in Afghanistan, managed to get onto the island. Two of them (Simon Moyle and Jessica Morrison) managed to get deep onto the base and shut a satellite communications system. Using all of their technical know-how, they pressed a red, clearly marked “Emergency Stop” button. They were taken to Geelong Court house where the Magistrate dismissed their charges of trespass. The group plus their supporters then returned to Queenscliff and blockaded the gate.

In 2011, the group returned. The weather was bitter according to those who were there and many activities in Melbourne and Queenscliff were planned. This year there was a large police presence including horses. Police were willing to arrest and a dozen or so protestors were arrested trying to blockade the gate. The blockade did not hold that year, but community of peace and resistance to war making were starting to build, strategies for non-violently blockading a narrow gate honed.

In 2012 (my first peace convergence) I arrived from Brisbane in a car load on the Sunday before the convergence started. I had had a long road trip from Brisbane in a crowded Urvan. The 1880 km trip with 8 other people, including navigating the alien roads of Melbourne had prepared my patience well, pushing my personal commitment to non-violence to a level I had not known previously (but would have a chance to push again soon).

Monday saw us spend a day in non-violence training. We studied, as a group of over 40, what non-violence meant to us. In the afternoon we specifically studied blockading tactics. Sitting in a line, sitting in groups arms and legs interlocked. Everyone worked together and looked after each other. All skills that served us well the next day.

We (about 35-45 protestors) arrived at the only road gate onto the base at 530 am the next day. About a dozen of us were willing to be arrested, but the police had a surprise for us. Lower police numbers and clearly orders given not to arrest, police engaged in a game of no-ball rugby. We were dragged off of the road and able to walk (or attempt to walk) back onto the road once we’d been removed. Three or so lots of cars managed to get on, but at about 830, our energy charged with not being arrested as expected and police energy waning at the sheer numbers of us and constant physical exertion, they gave up. The police declared the gates would stay closed and no more cars would get on that day. Video footage of that day and other convergences can be found on the Swan Island channel.

In 2013, the Australian Defence Force effectively shut the base down. The base, I was told later, had gone into “Stand Down” for the week of our convergence. It ran on a skeleton crew with major training weeks scheduled around our peace convergence. No cars tried to get on. Some people got on via ferry, we attempted blockades of those points, but it was clear the base had effectively closed down on the week of our convergence in order to avoid the media attention we received last year. On the last day of the blockade, 15 of us got onto the island by opening the gate and walking over the bridge. The 3 police officers were taken by surprise and tried to wrestle us back, but with 15 of us and 3 of them, there was never a doubt. 12 of us managed to get around a second gate. We walked to the main administration building of the base and planted a grape vine and a fig tree, symbolising peace and sustainability.

In 2014, the base was again closed for business on our arrival. We spent Monday in various forms of training, I did two hours of media training run by Jessica (time well spent considering what was about to happen) followed by a few hours of blockade training in the afternoon. Whilst the blockade training was good team building and great for the people who had not been before to find their way into the group, the overwhelming feeling of those of us who had been before was that we probably would not need the blockading skills this time.

I myself was feeling anticipation that Monday arvo. The Friday before, with another group, I had been detained blockading Lockheed Martin in Melbourne. For about 4 hours, a group of us had stopped people in one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers from getting to work. I was the only one detained, I spent just under an hour in the back of a police van whilst the chains were cut off of the gates. I, at that time felt good about myself. The police had seemed a little rough, but the Australian government was talking tough in bombing Iraq in support of the United States, Lockheed made planes and missiles were profiting from the death and destruction of people in Iraq because of Australian Government policies in the last 13 years and a new spike in profits was anticipated. We had made a small dent and I had done all I could that day to slow down their industry of death and ecocide.

Now here I was, a few days later with a larger group, preparing to disrupt Australian war making on a people’s who have already suffered far more than any Just God could ask from them (the Sunni Iraqi’s who were about to pay for ISIS with having their homes bombed again and special forces, some trained on Swan Island, operating in their neighbourhoods). I knew that the gates would most likely be given to us again and I was keen to escalate the disruption we caused by getting as many people onto the island as possible.

The next day, at the gates where no cars tried to get on, I started talking up crossing the small channel (20 meters or so) of ocean water and getting on the island to try and slow down whatever activity was taking place on the island. We made plans and after a few late night discussions and changes due to bad weather, 8 of agreed to go over in two groups of four on Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, two weeks ago, before sunrise, four of us found ourselves on the (Swan) island. It was dark. I was with Dave, Sam (who had walked on with us last year) and Tim from New Zealand. We had a quick prayer to centre and organised ourselves. We had about 3km to get to the main buildings, walking up a beach. “Let’s run until sunrise” someone said. Another shook his head and said “No, it’s dark, let’s take our time and walk as best we can, slow and steady wins the race”. With that, I took two steps north and nearly fell over hard. A series of thick metallic water pipes were there, but unseeable in the pre-dawn dark.

Steadily we walked north. We thought we heard a boat a few times, and took cover but by daylight, we found ourselves outside of what appeared to be accommodation blocks. The island was nearly deserted- or so we thought. We continued walking until we came to a body of water. Looking across, we could see a large building. I tried to take several photos, but the light was not good enough yet. So we sat in the bush and tried to go over our strategy. It was agreed that we would stay as a group of four until we got to the northern end of the island. Then, we would split up into pairs to cause as much disruption as possible. We moved north through the bush. We came across a complex of buildings that indicated that we were at the northern end of the island. We got some photos of the base, posed for a banner shot and then I rang a live talk back show in Melbourne. 3AW is a conservative show and they gave me 5 minutes of air time, where I got to talk about real security and the secrecy of our government and how our actions were creating terrorism.

After that we were overcome with a bit of indecision. Most of us had not done anything like this before and there was a tension of fear in not wanting to mess up our opportunity mixed with wanting to be as effective as possible. In the end, we decided to break cover, take another couple of photos, than split up. One group heading north, the other south. As soon as the photo was taken, a car came out of one of the buildings and stopped about 30 meters away. I sent the photos out, and we split up.

A very fateful decision I now feel, had we stuck together, what happened next would have been much harder for the two men to do.

30 seconds or so after we split up, we heard another car come screeching around the corner, see us and screech to a halt. Two men in plain clothes jumped out and sprinted towards us. I turned, with my hands in the air saying “We’re non-violent peace protestors…” the man, with about a 30 meter sprint head start crash tackled me into the ground. My friend reported that I was thrown 2 meters into a fence, though I do not recall that detail. I was than on my face being cuffed one on each hand and one on each ankle. A hessian sack was placed on my head and the man declared “Welcome to the bag mother fuckers!” (the language of this process was quite sexist and homophobic, we were called faggots and girls quite often). The men were angry and throughout the next few minutes, I had my pants ripped down so I was naked, rolled onto my back and he tried to rip my tshirt off. When he couldn’t do that quickly enough he pulled the bottom of my shirt over my head. I was then lying face down, naked, hooded. The man than said “tell me how many of you there are, or I’m going to choke you out”, at this point I attempted to communicate with him.

One of my big regrets of this assault was that I fell back into violence myself. My attitude, realising that what was happening to me with white privilege must have happened to many, many people throughout the world without such privilege. I immediately had a sense of what it might feel like to have a group of strangers burst into your home and have total control over your body. Utter and total powerlessness. I had the knowledge (not always without a doubt) that what was happening to me could not last long and these people would be accountable. I can imagine now what it must feel like to not have that knowledge, the sheer terror and horror, absolute darkness in your mind. What might be happening to your family? What’s going to happen to me? These people could kill you, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it. It’s all in their power. What must the impact of these operations be in war zones? All of this made me determined to be tougher than the system of torture and interrogation I found myself a part of.

I went into a “you won’t win” mode. I had been taught one small lesson on interrogation and secrecy in my short time in the army. The punchline was to not talk under torture, for as long as you can. In my head, instead of trying to appeal to the human of the man who had stood on my head and tried to cause me as much pain as possible without leaving marks, I had tried to be tougher than him instead.

I said to the man after a few minutes however: “This is torture” to which he replied “I don’t give a fuck.” He then picked me up by my throat and started walking. I choked for a moment (in writing this, I became distracted and looked up choking out on Wikipedia. Scarily, it normally only takes a few seconds, the Man just wasn’t able to do it on me effectively it sounds), but didn’t feel any real threat of blacking out. I couldn’t breathe for a second or two. But as we were walking, he dropped me onto my front. I was naked, he picked me up by my wrists and dragged me about 5-10 meters to a pile of wood chips. Two weeks later, I still have pain in my right shoulder from that. I could hear what sounded like Sam being thrown around. I decided; that nothing was worth what was happening and decided I would comply. I had tried to be tougher than the guy and he was tougher than me.

My head was down on my left shoulder, I had clear vision for about 3 meters through the hood and I saw him walk towards me with a 20-25cm stick. I said “I’ll tell you whatever you need to know”. He replied “Oh, will you. How many?” (people are on the island) He accompanied each question or comment with a slap on face or head. This caused me to stumble, even though I genuinely wanted to answer. “Four of us came second” he slapped me again “Don’t try and talk, just tell me how many” I struggled to actually think for a moment, so he slapped me again “how many!?” I don’t remember the exact conversation after this, I was distressed. I know it ended with “Tell me how many or I’ll shove this stick up your arse!” I then answered “Six, no eight, there’s eight of us”. He then said “thanks” dropped the stick and walked away. I regret that, because I know now that those two probably left and went and found the other two who then underwent similar treatment.

A few minutes later I heard another voice, which I assumed from the demeanour to be police. He tapped me on the back and said “are you alright?” I told him I was naked and my right hand was hurting quite a bit. He said “I’m Scotty with Victorian Police”. I felt safe immediately. With my help, he found a blue scarf that I had on me (our connection to the Afghan Peace Volunteers) and covered my bottom up. He then went and found something to cut my right cuff off with. He told me that it had turned purple, he then removed my hood. After a few more minutes, I asked to sit up, I was still naked in a pile of wood chips. Looking back, I wish I was angrier, I wish I’d laid into the police about our treatment and demanded to be uncuffed totally (I had been recuffed in a much less painful way). Instead I was totally compliant, when Scotty said he couldn’t pull my pants up because my underwear was in the way, I told him I understood. I might have laughed with him about it.

I was helped to sit up, and sorry for the detail, but I need to get out how compliant I was, after a minute of being naked, sitting up I asked politely “Can someone help cover up my cock, I feel a little exposed here.” Scotty came back and rearranged the blue scarf so I was covered up. I asked Sam if he was ok, and I think I might have been in a bit of shock. The police asked us how we got onto the island, I didn’t respond. This was not Scotty, but the other officer he laughed and said “whatever, just passing the time guys.”

After about 5 minutes of sitting on the ground, Scotty came over and offered to stand me up (I was still cuffed at the ankles) and cut my cuffs off me so I could pull my pants and underpants up. I was thankful and when he could not find other cuffs to retie me with, I said I was happy to stand with my hands behind my back. I was then hopped over to Sam and we sat in silence together for a while under police supervision.

A van then came up and my ankle cuffs were cut. I was told to get in. As I approached the van, I heard familiar voices and saw inside were the other group of four. We were pleased to see each other and they were shocked to see our condition and hear of the treatment we had undergone.

Sam was squashed into the van with us and we were driven to another part of the island. At this point, they took Jasmine, the only woman, out and stated they wanted to get the female off of the island first. I raised an objection, stating that she shouldn’t be allowed on her own with police. One officer said “A female police officer is coming.” I’d like to think were I not in such a state of shock, I would have jumped out of the van and demanded to accompany her. Instead I did nothing as she was led away. A few minutes later, I was let out and put in another van. There was Dave and Tim. Dave looked terrible. He had a bloody nose, was white and shaking. I told the police he needed medical attention and blankets, there was a risk he might go into serious shock. The police begrudgingly agreed and returned later to say an ambulance was on the way and with some thick blankets.

I was in the van for forty minutes or more before they took the other two, one at a time to be processed. I learnt that in that time, Jasmine was not processed by a female police officer, instead, she was placed in a room and offered stringent bail conditions. To Jasmine’s massive credit, she refused, despite being on her own in the presence of four male police officers. They also threatened to take each of the 8 of us, one by one by boat to Geelong which would have taken all day. In spite of this intimidation, Jasmine held out, demanding medical treatment for us and not signing any tyrannical bail conditions that would stop us from returning to Queenscliff.

The irony of this chapter is they picked Jasmine, a young woman as they calculated she would have been the easiest to intimidate, with my state of mind, I would have signed anything to get off of that island and out of custody as quickly as possible. I’ll probably never say this again in my life, but patriarchy was good for all of us in that moment.
Eventually we were driven off of the island to our community who waited with anticipation and I have had two weeks to digest what happened to us.

Earlier in the week, a passer-by of our blockade told us he was sympathetic, but we were not realistic. ‘When you have groups like ISIS running around’ he said ‘you have to have an army- you have to be realistic.’

It’s this statement, for some reason that has come back into my mind more and more the last few days. People online have asked what we thought 8 of us could accomplish, many have said we got what we deserved or that we got off lightly, we should have been shot or locked up in prison for what we do. What is truly realistic is that the tactics taught on Swan Island, the tactics used on the four of us are designed to instil fear and compliance within dominated people. People have been tortured and murdered using these strategies to intimidate and control. If this happened to someone in your family or regularly occurred in your local community, especially to people you know are innocent, or at least have not had much to do with armed resistance to US led occupying forces- then you’re not going to willingly accept any foreign ruler. You’re not going to comply with that system. If it was your family it happened to, many of us would realistically decide, either I fight back, or it might happen to someone else, or to me.

Under these conditions of desperation, shock and anger groups LIKE ISIS might come along. Hey, they might be fundamentalist nutbags in some ways, but at least they’re getting back at the people who did this to you, or to your uncle or your father or who incidentally killed someone else you know.

The reality is the fear based interrogation strategies I suffered under creates armed resistance, creates people who see no alternative but to take arms against those who so inhumanely treat other people like intelligence assets rather than, well, people.

These on the ground tactics, combined with drone strikes that kill innocent civilians, aerial bombing campaigns, decades of war and subjugation of lands that have oil and strategic economic interest create terrorism. Poverty, global warming, social destruction are side-effects of creating this fear in our perceived enemies. Scared and angry, they seek to strike back.

There is a terrorist threat. The much larger one comes from US led attacks in the Iraqi/ Syria region. By responding to ISIS or Al-Qaeda or any group with slick, effective marketing that can play US led powers like a violin and drag us into another bloody war that will create more war. I’ll finish with what I wrote on the afternoon of my release:

“This experience makes me question the training of SAS and specialist soldiers. They could not differentiate between so-called terrorist threats and those who have, for weeks in the media, put out their intention to non-violently disrupt the base. If they beat us up, knowing there were consequences, how do they deal with people for whom there are no legal protections? What is life like in Iraq, Afghanistan and other place where these forces operate without scrutiny or accountability? How many people have our SAS troops humiliated, tortured or killed without thinking, on my behalf and because they are of a different colour, had no reports in the media? Just a broken home full of family who tell their neighbours and communities what the Australian ‘soldiers’ have done to them. In 2001, militant Muslim extremists were in Afghanistan, Somalia and other small enclaves.
Today, we have a growing fundamentalist movement in South-East Asia, the so-called Islamic State and a burgeoning destabilisation from resource conflicts and other factors globally. Today, one of the SAS folk accused us of being the reason for terrorists being in Australia. Yet the peace movement has been practically dead in the USA and the West since 2003, but guys like my friends today have seen a perpetual increase in funding and a free reign. Violence has created violence and more war will create more war.
We need more people working for peace and throwing their bodies and souls into healing our global relationships, not killing people…”