Three activists arrested after infiltrating a joint U.S./Australian military training exercise site

Peace Pilgrims Simon Reeves, Rev. Simon Moyle & Greg Rolles

Peace Pilgrims Simon Reeves, Rev. Simon Moyle & Greg Rolles

From the Morning Bulletin

Three men infiltrated a military training exercise at Shoalwater Bay in Australia on the morning of July 8.

Before dawn, three Christian peace pilgrims entered Shoalwater Bay live training area to disrupt the “Talisman Sabre” U.S.-Australian war “rehearsals” as “invaders” are parachuted in to begin the “games”.

Range Control for Talisman Sabre were notified that civilians were present in the training zone and were asked to call a ceasefire. Peace Convergence have been told by Range Control that the concern would be “passed on”.

About 9 a.m., police were advised by ADF Military Police that they had found three men trespassing in the area.

Pastor Simon Reeves, Quaker Greg Rolles and the Reverend Simon Moyle, all in their 30s, were detained by the military police and handed over to local police. They were then transported to the Rockhampton police station.

Guns and missiles are being fired in the training area. Armed reconnaissance helicopters, armoured tanks possibly lined with depleted uranium, black hawks, guided missiles, U.S. navy surface vessels, and nuclear weapons capable submarines are potentially being used, according to the Talisman Sabre 2015 Public Environment Report.

The activists entered the training area in objection to the Australian-U.S. military alliance, and to the human, economic and environmental costs of those wars into which Australian soldiers and the Australian taxpaying public have been drawn. Pilgrims bear witness to and represent the very real threat to civilians in war.

The three pilgrims made the following joint statement before entering the training area:

“As Australians with the question, ‘Have these wars been worth the cost?’ we are walking into Shoalwater Bay in the midst of exercise Talisman Sabre in the hope of finding a less destructive way of dealing with conflict.

“All these lives lost, all this money spent and the world is a more dangerous place since 2001. Bodies of soldiers have been broken, minds and souls damaged. The blood of countless lives has been shed. Is this what we want? Is this the kind of country we want to be?

“When we meet soldiers on the base, we will be inviting them to share the Eucharist, remembering bodies broken and blood shed, in the hope of finding a better way forward together.

“We also invite other Australians to consider whether more military intervention in Iraq will be worth the cost in lives, blood and money.”

Greg Rolles, who holds a Master’s degree in International Relations, said, “For first time in Australia, unmanned aerial systems (drones) responsible for 1000s of civilian deaths, will be used in the war ‘games’. There are serious unanswered questions about this technology.”

“The ADF has refused to say whether these unmanned aircraft, each capable of carrying a 250kg payload, will be armed as they fly over Rockhampton and the surrounding region.”

“I am also walking because 200 years ago, Shoalwater Bay belonged to the Indigenous Peoples of the area. It’s one of Australia’s first war sites, with European settlers attempting to kill off or remove the Darumbal People. I will pilgrimage into Shoalwater Bay to remember those First Peoples who lost their lives and culture on this land,” said Greg.