Peace action on trial in Australia & the US: Brisbane peace activists face Rockhampton court

Peace Convergence Media Release Tuesday August 20, 2013

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 As the Tiger Ploughshares Trial continues, four Brisbane peace activists will appear in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court this morning (Tues Aug 20) for charges involved in protesting the 2013 Talisman Saber military exercise which took place July 15- August 5.  Jim Dowling, David Sprigg, Andy Paine, and  Robin Taubenfeld were arrested outside the Rockhampton Army Barracks while attempting to stop traffic involved in the military training.

The Talisman Saber exercises, which this year involved 18,000 American and 9,000 Australian troops, are a key show of force of the US alliance – working towards seamless interoperability of US and Australian troops and demonstrating cutting edge military capability in a region which the US hopes to contain. 

Talisman Saber involves live firing, the use of explosives, the use of nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons capable military vehicles, the practicing of urban warfare, the use of high power sonar and active sonobuoys, amphibious assaults, parachuting and land force manoeuvres. US troops involved in these exercises deploy to or from real war situations, forward deployed units, or other military operations.

Several of the activists were arrested wearing shirts that read “Free Bradley Manning”, and they linked their protest of US military training with the trial of the former US soldier and whistle blower. As the activists face court, this week Bradley Manning will be sentenced, facing a maximum of 90 years in prison.

Activist Andy Paine said “While the US is imprisoning Bradley Manning for the crime of telling the truth, the Australian government is welcoming the American military to our shores and furthering its support for the US alliance.

“The courage of Bradley Manning should be an inspiration to people around the world who believe in peace and justice.  When the truth is being repressed, our response should be to speak out openly and fearlessly in every way we can.”

In a separate case, Northern NSW peace activist Graeme Dunstan is facing trial for willful damage of an Australian Army Tiger Attack helicopter on the tarmac of Rockhampton airport during Talisman Sabre 2011. His co-accused, Bryan Law, who actually struck the blow with a garden mattock, died last Easter.  Their action is in the tradition of ploughshares actions, where these actions are viewed as an intervention towards disarmament.   The willful damage charge has up to ten years jail attached.  The hearing began Monday with the selection of the jury and the submitting of prosecution evidence.

Contacts and interviews:

Andy Paine re Brisbane arrests:  0413 205 154

Graeme Dunstan Helicopter trial: Simon Moyle: 0402 857 915

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