Saturday, March 03, 2007

Christian Action of non-violent civil disobedience

Along with others who have been inspired by the witness and ministry of Jesuit, John Dear I took part in the following action as a response in faith to the Gospel this Lent:

That our country is engaged in a serious war crime is without doubt. The invasion was loudly denounced by Pope John Paul 11 before it took place, and afterwards declared illegal buy then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan. More recently, a senior prosecutor at the 1945 Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, Benjamin Ferenccz, has declared George Bush should be tried the for illegal invasion of Iraq.

10th March 10, 2007

This morning about 20 folks gathered outside Brisbane ’s Enoggera Army Barracks to resist our nation’s war crimes in Iraq . We came to convey the message, “Bring the Troops Home”. Three of us would try to enter the base as to set up a peace recruitment center, as an act nonviolent resistance to the war.

Starting at the main intersection 300 meters away from the front gates and sentry box, we held a 9meter banner reading “IN THE NAME OF GOD STOP THE WARS”. After 20 minutes we processed to the gates. Every 30 metres we hammered a white cross by the roadside. Each cross carried an inscription mourning the death and destruction of war. We reflected on each inscription (such as ‘children killed’, ‘soldiers killed’, ‘prisoners tortured’) for a minute or two before moving on.

When we reached the front gates we were met by a line of police and barricades across both sides of the normally wide open entrance to the base. Capping off this “defense” of Enoggera Army Barracks was a large road sign with words formed by flashing lights to notify everyone of the situation. Our small visual impact was certainly being magnified!

While Jason talked to the police about what was going to happen, we set up our table with a “ Peace Recruitment Center ” sign on the front, and hung the large banner on the rail of the walkway opposite. Sean opened with a short talk and read from Donna Mulhearn ’s direct experiences of the suffering caused by our invasion of Iraq . He invited others to speak, and Sister Kaye reminded us of the traditional owners of the land we were on, and the suffering and death caused by another undeclared war by the European invaders. Tony spoke of how his faith had brought him to this place on this day. Anne spoke of the need to capture people’s imagination as the mass media had captured their imagination to fear “terrorists” and condone greater terrorism. She also said the terrible trauma the population was suffering meant we should ‘bring home the troops and send in the therapists’! I read some from the Nuremburg Principles and recalled that the Chief prosecutor at Nuremburg, Justice Jackson, had declared the primary War Crime was initiating a war of Aggression as we had done in Iraq .

We then planted more little crosses with names of the dead around the front of the base while the children and others wove words of peace into the fence. They also hung cardboard peace doves and streamers.

In perhaps the most moving part of the action the children took flowers up to the line of police and handed them to them. Most took them. One officer put them in his large side pocket while others placed them on the ground in front of them. At the same time we played “Flowers in the Guns” from the new “Pine Gap4” CD (a little plug there). It was a sight to melt the hardest of hearts.

Next Jason announced it was time for the action of civil disobedience when three of us would try to enter the base to ask the soldiers to refuse to cooperate with the war in Iraq .
We began a Taize chant “Veni Sancte Spiritus”. Between chanting, the three of us each spoke briefly of why we were doing this. Lisa started to cry as she spoke of how she would feel as a mother seeing her children suffer through war. I also had to stop a number of times as I tried to read a harrowing artricle by Robert Fisk describing children cut to pieces by US cluster bombs at the start of this Iraq war.

Then we lifted the peace table and proceed towards the base. On reaching the police line Jason told the officers what we intended, and one officer tried to talk us into turning around with the usual arguments. When we refused we were arrested, and charged with disturbing the peace. “Shouldn’t we be charged with ‘disturbing the war’?” Lisa asked as we were led away.

Jason and I were placed in a police wagon for half an hour to reflect on this and previous actions and plan future ones. At the end of this time the police opened the back to inform us that we would be ‘un-arrested’ and dropped some distance from the base. If we went back to the base we would be kept in the watchouse till Monday.

We were dropped a few kilometers away and our friends were waiting for us. We decided against returning. It had been quite a successful action. We would regroup in a couple of days to plan the next one. Anyone interested in waging peace with in the near can email or phone me on 34253003. I can assure you your spirits will be uplifted.

Jim Dowling

I write seeking your prayers and solidarity for Christians Against All Terrorism please.
The Roots of Christan Non-Violence an article by Thomas Merton
Post a Comment