Pace e Bene supports peacemakers at Talisman Sabre

Pace e Bene Australia supports the actions of the Bonhoeffer 4, Catholic Workers and Pax Christi Activists

The Bonhoeffer 4 inside the war games site
The Bonhoeffer 4 inside the war games site

Four nonviolent Christian activists, Margaret Pestorius, Jarrod McKenna, Jessica Morrison  and Rev. Simon Moyle, calling themselves the Bonhoeffer 4, entered the Shoalwater Bay Training Area about 6 am on 13 July 2009. Their intention was to disrupt the Talisman Sabre 09 joint military exercises between the United States and Australia by entering the live-free zone. Jarrod and Simon are members of Pace e Bene Australia.

They were found and arrested at 2.30 pm on 14 July. All four have been charged with trespass and Simon and Jessica have additionally been charged with obstruction of police.

Jim Dowling and Ciaron O’Reilly, members of the Australian Catholic Workers, were arrested on 9 July for blockading military access to the road to the Talisman Sabre 09 area.

Frank Vavasour, a member of Pax Christi in Sydney, was arrested on 12 July, when he attempted to scale the fence of the Rockhampton military barracks, but was later released without charge.

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Bonhoeffer 4 statement

In his article in the Monthly, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called Bonhoeffer “without a doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century.” We have taken the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because he embodied a serious, costly commitment to peacemaking and ending injustice, “a costly grace”. Yet Rudd’s $100 billion long-term military spending plan reveals the Prime Minister has forgotten his hero and is in need of some sisters and brothers to jog his memory.

3 of the Bonhoeffer 4 on the road inside the site
3 of the Bonhoeffer 4 on the road inside the site

That is why we will put our own bodies on the line in order to stop the U.S./ Australian Talisman Saber Military Exercises and jam a spoke in the wheel of war.  These exercises are implicated in killing and injuring our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including untold numbers of civilians. This “war without end”, as George Bush put it, has no exit strategy and no end in sight.  We will not overcome the violent terrorism of the poor with the violent terrorism of the rich.

Rev. Moyle has been in contact with the Defence Department about our plans for more than 7 months in order to build a relationship of trust and openness.  Air Commander Meier has stated in Parliament, “If we know there is an unauthorised person into the Commonwealth land at Shoalwater Bay…the exercise is stopped.”  The Defence Department has been notified of our presence on the base. We call on Air Commander Meier to keep his word to the Australian people.

We plan to be inside the area for as long as possible, and are well prepared for a long stay.

As Rudd’s hero Bonhoeffer put it, “The church has three possible ways it can act against the State.  First, it can ask the State if its actions are legitimate.  Second, it can aid the victims of the State action… The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.” With our actions and our lives we plan to do all three.

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