Beyond War news October 2018

Welcome to our friends and supporters at Beyond War. We promised to keep you up to date with our projects.

We are so happy to have you onboard creating a just and peaceful world which acknowledges past wrongs and takes steps to set things right. Thank you. Salam.

With your help, our partner organisations are making a difference. We haven’t waited to be fully funded to get the ball rolling. In the following email we are sharing the first reports from three important projects. PeaceBus has significantly grown awareness of the Frontier Wars. #WagePeace has been building a strong organisational base for peace activities and events. And Pasifika has gathered and recorded the testimony of massacre survivors in West Papua as well as trained leaders in civil resistance in PNG.

We hope you will read these stories and be inspired. Tell people what you read about. Feel free to pass this email on to your friends. Let’s build a peaceful future without weapons and the old colonial violence.

In peace and solidarity,

Margaret Pestorius

Pasifika

Jason MacLeod is coordinator of the West Papua work at our partner Pasifika. Pasifika is helping build both resistance in West Papua and an Australian solidarity campaign. Both go hand in hand. People who have experienced violence and atrocities tell their stories so that they can be heard and witnessed. It is Indonesians and Australians who are setting up and perpetuating the abuse. Let us not be the ones standing by.

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Ongoing Work for Nonviolence Civil Resistance

Your support has made it possible for Pasifika to continue our work with human rights defenders and survivors of the 1998 Byak Massacre. In May we brought the West Papuans together with ni-Vanuatu, Kanaky and Aboriginal Australian musicians. We recorded the ‘testimony’ and produce several songs with legendary musician David Bridie. At that time, we translated the “collective testimony” into Indonesian, French, Bislama and Byak languages. 

The CD and book, with a foreword written by Cardinal John Ribat, will be used to support the #MakeWestPapuaSafe campaign. As part of this campaign we will call for the arrest of Wiranto, the current Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security. Wiranto commanded the Indonesian Armed Forces at the time of the Byak Massacre and is allegedly responsible for the murder of West Papuan leader, Theys Eluay.

creative activism workshopThanks to funds from Beyond War, we have been able to produce a video about the 2014 Paniai massacre. That 12 min film will be released in December for the beginning of our #MakeWestPapuaSafe campaign. #MakeWestPapuaSafe challenges Australian police to stop training Indonesian police.

Ongoing is the development of the #MakeWestPapuaSafe website and writing up the civil resistance curriculum we have been developing. This will be used by other leaders, organisers, educators and communities. The Civil Resistance guide will be published as the third instalment of the popular People Power Manual.

Pasifika in Papua New Guinea: A Partnership With a Partnership

We Never Give Up the FightPasifika collaborated with staff from Bismark Ramu Group (BRG), a Papua New Guinean organisation based in Madang. First, BRG staff were trained in civil resistance. Then together, we trained Papua New Guinean community leaders in strategy and nonviolent action skills.

Community leaders came from across PNG. All are concerned about illegal land grabbing and resource extraction on indigenous lands. The participants represented communities resisting experimental seabed mining in the Duke of York Islands, the massive proposed Chinese Frieda River Mine in the Sepik River, cement and limestone mining along the remote Rai Coast, and road building, logging and proposed plantations in the highlands.

Pasifika brought knowledge of civil resistance and strategy. BRG has the relationships with local communities and will provide ongoing support.    

PeaceBus

Graeme Dunstan, veteran peace worker and cultural activist,  reports from the fourth annual Frontier Wars Story Camp. Australians’ cultural understanding of war is based on the lies and silences surrounding settlement violence. Historians and veterans have been writing that the Anzac tradition had shifted away from the peace-oriented purpose claimed by the original Anzac veterans: “Never again!”

Since 2010, peace workers in Australia have been challenging the way ‘Anzac’ is expressed. We see this as a foundation for other work against war. We are encouraged that pushing the idea of Frontier Wars into the heart of Anzac has unleashed interest in the “honest history” of this Land.

The Frontier Wars Story Camp 2018 at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

This year, the site of the fourth annual Frontier Wars Story Camp was at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle. Here, with one’s back to the Parliaments old and new, one can gaze north across the Sacred Fire, the Sovereignty signage, and the flags of the Embassy to a magnificent vista across Lake Burley Griffin, and to the brooding architecture of the Australian War Memorial. The Camp was convened in the week leading up to Anzac Day by Arrernte activist Chris Tomlins from Yambah, NT. I produced it with support from Beyond War.

A Renewed Vision for Anzac

Our purpose was to raise awareness of the Frontier Wars and build participation in the seventh Anzac Day Lest We Forget the Frontier Wars March on the Australian War Memorial.This year, the March grew to around 150 participants, a number far exceeding that of previous years.

The 2018 Camp was a low-key and loosely organised event, and it promised only two convened storytelling sessions a day, but lots of opportunities for informal storytelling around campfires. No fees or registration were required. About fifty people camped on Embassy for the event.

The Tent Embassy

Ever-contested territory, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is a complex and challenging space. And thanks to Chris Tomlins’ leadership, and the support and collaboration of Roxley Foley and other regular residents, the Story Camp brought forth cooperation and cross-cultural confidence.

Decked with Peacebus flags and banners, the Embassy appeared operational and attractive. There was plenty of tasty, wholesome food on offer, plenty of firewood, and plenty of interesting company. The National Capital Authority cooperated by providing extra portable toilets and garbage collection and turning off the sprinklers in the adjacent Rose Garden, to allow camping in the shade there.

Bruce Pascoe - Dark Emu

Bruce Pascoe author of Dark Emu at the Story CampOn Thursday 19th and Friday 20th April, lead story teller, Bruce Pascoe, followed the theme of his book, Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident, to establish Aboriginal people at the time of first contact as consummate agriculturalists, and not as the hunter-gatherers that the land-grabbing colonisers purported them to be. His second storytelling session attracted over thirty visitors to the Embassy. His theme for that session was Aboriginal bread making. Bec Horridge recorded it and produced it for Earth Matters Radio Aboriginals were the first bread makers

Floral activist, Hazel Davies, set up a Desert Pea-making workshop at the Embassy where she shared the creation story of the Desert Pea as an indigenous ‘blood’ flower, the native equivalent of the Red Flanders Poppy, and showed visitors how to simulate a Desert Pea with red felt and beads. The annual lantern lit Anzac eve Peace Vigil was also part of the program. www.anzacpeacevigil.org

Chris Warren, a regular at Story Camps, retold his story about the smallpox epidemic at Sydney Cove in 1779 as germ warfare. The 2018 Story Camp also brought forth the story of the Canning Stock Route from a white worker who had been part of a return to country journey there in 1987. He read from an original hard copy of the 1908 Royal Commission report and wept.

This year it was the Story Telling Camp funded by supporters at Beyond War that was the conduit for a multiplied media response from NITV, SBS and other national journalists who followed and amplified with Twitter, various live feeds, TV and digital coverage. Without the fire in the Camp smouldering away in the days leading, there would have been little spark for the immense coverage that followed. Firmly on the agenda now, First Nations people are calling for local ceremonies and local expressions of acknowledgement of the true history throughout the year at Anzac, 26 January, Remembrance Day and local days significant for their own histories. The truth about war and colonial punishment is back on the agenda.

Read more here

#WagePeace

Margaret Pestorius coordinator of The Wage Peace Project writes about how Wage Peace has been building peace movement activities.

Amplification, Collaboration and Skills Development

Wage Peace on TwitterWage Peace has continued to back up students in the #DisarmUnis network. In every city, students took action against the influence of weapons manufacturers. Students have been collecting information on the types of arrangements that are in place. The biggest weapons companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the French corporation Thales have partnership agreements with universities. Both academic independence and ethics are at stake.

It appears that the ‘US Alliance’ has opened the door and various US weapons executives have walked on through. They appear to be chasing handouts for unnecessary ‘defence’ projects from an overly generous Australian Government. Wage Peace is watching and keeping track of activities as recorded in various independent media. With our affiliate World Beyond War, we started a petition against the sale of Australian defence products to Saudi Arabia which has been involved in another colonial war in Yemen.

Wage Peace has also been amplifying the anti-war messages from peace events around the country. One group, Oz Anti-Bases, a long-established group in Sydney held a public burning for the Australian Government weapons catalogue. This document had been created as a sales piece for selling defence products overseas. Another project, ‘Give ‘Em the Boot’ is seeking to challenge the US base in Darwin with its 4 monthly “rotations” of US marines. 

We have has been building our social media presence. Twitter and Facebook is a curated library for us; a place to join up smaller activities and events. You can join us there if you want to be more active or just watch and stay abreast of peace activities.

With our mates at Friends of the Earth, Australia, Wage Peace has been setting up a “War Costs the Earth” or maybe a “Defence of the Earth” project. Did you know that the US military is probably the biggest single carbon emitter in the world? The project will curate the effects of military activity in this great South Land: poisons, chemical dumping, carbon emissions, persistent and dangerous poly-fluoroalkyl substances, unexploded ordnance, nuclear dumps, radiation from nuclear blasts. It’s a minefield!

 

That’s all for now friends, thank you very much for your support with these projects. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with their progress over the coming months as we carry on doing all we can to make the world a better place.

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Wage Peace happens on Sovereign Aboriginal Land - mostly Sovereign Yidindji Government Land - but also on the land of the Bunjalung and the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge the Traditional Authority of the people on whose Land we live.  

Those of us working on the project are around the country and we invite you to play with us - or donate!