War on Trial as Ploughshares receives Suspended Sentence
Media Release 22 August 2013
Graeme Dunstan (71) of the Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshares was found guilty of wilful damage to a Tiger Attack helicopter and given a two year suspended sentence on a three year good behaviour bond. This included $2000 reconnaissance and 162K in reparations however payment was not expected given Mr Dunstan’s financial circumstances.
Judge Samios stated that the costs were not insignificant and he would have to take this into account when sentencing Mr Dunstan. The Tiger helicopter was $45 million and rendered inoperable for a period of 4 months. Mr Dunstan responded that four months out of action was a blessing to the world.
The Prosecution made submissions of a custodial sentence because of Mr Dunstan’s lack of remorse but also as a personal and general deterrent: to send a message to like-minded members of the community that deliberate acts of vandalism to government property would not be tolerated.
Mr Dunstan responded, “It was an act of civil disobedience and I am not ashamed.”
“The Tiger Helicopter is, in the Australian Army’s own words “an attack helicopter.” (http://www.army.gov.au/Our-work/Equipment-and-clothing/Aviation/ARH-Tiger) “Ploughshares actions are acts of disarmament, transforming machines that kill in to objects that cannot kill.”
Judge Samios whilst imposing a custodial sentence suspended it immediately.
Jury deliberations went into the next day after a unanimous decision was unable to be reached with two of the ten jurors unconvinced of Mr Dunstan’s guilt. A guilty verdict was announced when court reconvened this morning.
Mr Dunstan has claimed victory stating, “We were successful in putting war on the trial.”
The jury had been shown footage released by Bradley Manning of a US helicopter killing civilians in Iraq. A closed military court has just demoted Mr Manning and sentenced him to 35 years and dishonourable discharge for releasing the footage – now known as the “Collateral Murder” footage, which clearly exposes war crimes committed by the US military. Despite the severity of the military court sentencing, Mr Manning has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his actions. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-27/bradley-manning-nominated-for-nobel-peace-prize/3855944)
The jury viewed the footage, and heard related testimony from Australian peace activist Donna Mulhearn who had traveled to Iraq as a “Human Shield” in 2003. Reverend Simon Moyle also gave testimony about both Christian pacifism and the Ploughshare movement and his personal experiences in Afghanistan.
Background: Mr Dunstan assisted the now deceased Bryan Law who rode a large red tricycle across the Rockhampton airport tarmac and disabled an Australian Army Tiger Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter in a creative act of disarmament. Mr Law used a garden mattock to deliver a blow to the military helicopter. The action was inspired by the biblical prophecy of ‘Beating Swords into Ploughshares’ meaning taking action to convert killing machines such as the Tiger helicopter into ploughshares or agricultural tools that promote life.
Photos available on request and on: https://peaceconvergence.wordpress.com
Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688
Collateral Murder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0Downloadable