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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Nimbin peace activist speaks out about militarism

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Longtime peace activist Graeme Dunstan pictured here with his granddaughter. Photo David Bradbury
Longtime peace activist Graeme Dunstan pictured here with his granddaughter. Photo David Bradbury

Long-time peace activist, Graeme Dunstan, has just returned from a blockade of Victoria’s Swan Island ASIS/SAS base, and will be sharing his experiences and speaking out against militarism at Byron’s ‘Global Warning’ forum, to be held at the Byron Theatre Saturday October 18 from 7pm.

‘Along with 40 other adults and 15 children,’ says Mr Dunstan, ‘I participated and witnessed a six-day non-violent direct action in which the sole gate to the island base was closed to traffic for three days.’

Activist assaulted

He says on October 2, eight activists in two ‘Citizen Inspection Teams’ of four crossed the water and entered the base, taking photos, SMS-ing to social media and making media calls.

‘After four hours of roaming undetected, one of the groups was arrested by Victoria Police. The other was caught by at least two “ADF” (so called by the Vic Police) in jeans and t-shirts, who crash-tackled them to the ground, beat and abused them, zip-tied their wrists, hooded them with hessian sacks, cut off their clothes, dragged them about and threatened them with drowning and sexual assault.

‘The story was on ABC 7.30 on Monday October 8 and I was witness to their injuries and their stories when Vic Police released them back to the gate blockade.

‘Among Special Forces, this behaviour is called “coercive interrogation” or in US military jargon “renditioning”, says Mr Dunstan.

‘It is what David Hicks experienced when abducted by US forces in Afghanistan, and also when he was held without charge in Guantanamo Bay.’

‘And it is one of the techniques taught by 4 Squadron SAS Regiment at Swan Island training base to police counter-terrorism units on Swan Island and to the armies they train overseas.

Brutality normalised

‘The point I will be making at the Byron Forum is that this normalisation of brutality and torture; this contempt for the rule of law and human rights is the war the Australian SAS bring home with them,’ he said.

‘Just as the training and arming of Islamic extremists in Syria by the US and its allies have created ISIS as a blow-back Frankenstein monster, likewise endless wars and the terrorist tactics of the SAS is turning it into a Frankenstein monster and long-term threat to civil society in this land.’

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