Swan Island Peace Convergence Day 5: week culminates in arrests and meditations

A week of protests at the top secret military base of Swan island has ended with a blockade lit with 400 candles representing the deaths in Afghanistan and more arrests as protestors breached police lines. The convergence in Queenscliff has continued all week as a protest against the unnecessary and ineffective war in Afghanistan, and to draw attention to the role that the top secret Swan Island base plays in the war. The war is now into its tenth year – as long as Australia’s involvement in Vietnam.

The morning began with the road being blocked with hundreds of candles being lit on the road to remember the 28 Australian soldiers and the countless innocent Afghan lives lost in this tragic conflict. The group attended and held a silent vigil for all those affected by the suffering and prayed for peace to emerge.

Shortly afterwards two activists were able to scale the bridge leading to the island and unfurled a peace banner. After a number of hours the two activists left the fence to picket vehicles on the roadway into the base. The two who were then arrested and charged with trespass and other offences. These two were Baptist pastor Simon Moyle (34), and University lecturer Jessica Morrison (35).

Jessica and Simon on the fence

Both protestors have recently visited Afghanistan and have seen first hand the suffering and pain of people there. Rev. Moyle stated ‘For too many years powerful interests have fought over power in Afghanistan at the expense of its people. War has not liberated them; it has only created more grief. Now is the time to listen to Afghan voices asking us: “Why not love? Why not peace?”’

Ms Morrison added ‘People in Afghanistan that I met with were clear that foreign troops are funding and fueling terrorism by their presence, and must withdraw. Afghan citizens need to be able to led the recovery of their country’.

Simon Moyle being arrested

The convergence continues to call for the Australian government to listen to the will of the Australian people, who overwhelmingly support a withdrawal of our troops from this needless war. The group has also indicated that their activism will continue in a variety of ways until this happens.

Photos by Jon Osborne