A strong contingent of people from the northern rivers joined hundreds of other Australians near Alice Springs last year, to mark 50 years since the establishment of the Pine Gap Joint Military Facility in the Norther Territory.
Those peaceful activists are now following the trials of six people who were arrested after entering the forbidden territory around the US/Australian signals intelligence spy base at Pine Gap.
Pine Gap is an integral part of the global US war machine and makes Australia a nuclear target. Information gathered at Pine Gap is sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, USA, is used to direct drones to bomb civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Six peace activists chose to trespass on the secret spy base Prohibited Area as a way to witness, pray, and play music to lament the tragedy of war, and highlight Pine Gap’s role in the ‘never ending war’.
This week the activists, charged with entering a prohibited property under the Defence Special Undertakings Act, are in court in Alice Springs facing hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines, or seven years in jail.
Paul Christie of Cairns was convicted ‘Guilty’ by the jury on Wednesday 15 November for entering the base alone following a two day trial. He is yet to be sentenced.
The remaining five activists, Margaret Pestorius, from Cairns, and Jim Dowling, Andy Paine, Franz Dowling and Tim Webb from Brisbane go to court on Thursday 16 November. They entered the base together to play viola, guitar, to lament war and pray for peace. Once this joint trial is concluded all 6 Pine Gap activists will be sentenced.
The court has refused entry to Jim Dowling because he doesn’t wear shoes.
‘Quite how they expect to charge him in court then they won’t let him in is yet to be worked out,’ said one local supporter.
To support the Peace Pilgrims or to follow the outcome of the court cases over the next weeks click here.