Swan Island shutdown

IssueMay 2010
News by Milan Rai

On 31 March, four Christian peace activists broke into a secret Australian military base in a protest against the war in Afghanistan. The four swam to Swan Island off the south coat of Australia at 5.30am, climbed the fence and spent several hours on the base shutting down the switchboard, a satellite and causing a lockdown on the base, effectively disrupting the Australian war effort in Afghanistan.

“Both Swan Island and the war on Afghanistan are out of sight, out of mind. It’s time to end further suffering of the Afghan people and our soldiers by bringing our troops home,” the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective said in a statement.

“In the week before the first Easter, Jesus blockaded the temple and turned the tables inside. Today, we are imitating Jesus’ disruption,” the group said. “Sometimes you have to get in the way of injustice.”

One group went to the centre of the facility, where they turned off the two main switches in a switchboard, which security later told them cut power in the area. They then came across a 10-metre satellite dish, and hit a button marked “emergency stop”. The other group blocked the base’s front gate with a “Closed – War Out of Order!” banner.

Rev Simon Moyle (Baptist minister), Jacob Bolton (community worker), Jessica Morrison (university lecturer) and Simon Reeves (social worker) chose to name their group after Dietrich Bonhoeffer after Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd called him “the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century”.

Bonhoeffer was an anti-war activist in the Second World War.

The four were arrested and charged with trespass. They will appear before Geelong magistrates court on 12 May.