Humbled in love

IssueDecember 2016 - January 2017
News by David Polden

In Australia, five Christian peace pilgrims had charges against them dismissed after entering one of the country’s most sensitive locations.

On 29 September, Jim Dowling, Margaret Pestorius, Andy Paine, Tim Webb and Franz Dowling walked onto the Pine Gap US spy base at Alice Springs, in Arrernte country, ‘to lament the death caused by the base and to resist the violence that is perpetrated there’.

The Pine Gap Five, aged 19 – 72, were charged with trespass under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act, passed specifically to protect Pine Gap – with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

The charge is so serious it has to have the expressed consent of the federal attorney-general to go ahead. Because attorney-general George Brandis had not responded by the time the five were taken to court, judge Daynor Trigg dismissed the charges and the five pilgrims walked free.

In the US, judge Marilyn Paja acquitted two peace activists ‘in the interest of justice’ at Kitsap county district court, Washington state, on 30 September.

The judge dismissed charges of being in the road illegally and thanked Sue Ablao and Mack Johnson for their service and action!

During an 8 August vigil, Sue and Mack carried a banner onto the road at the main gate at the Kitsap-Bangor Trident submarine base, blocking traffic.

In her statement of mitigation to the court, Sue said: ‘Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren deserve better. They deserve a life. They deserve a nuclear-free world. And that is why I stepped in the road to say: never again, no business as usual, at this base.’

Topics: Anti-war action