PEACE CONVERGENCE – MEDIA RELEASE – 20 JUNE 2007
GUAM AND HAWAII BRING WARNING ABOUT MILITARY EXERCISES
Three international guests arrived in Yeppoon – Rockhampton on Wednesday to add their voices to the protest of over 500 Australians concerned about the Australian-US Talisman Sabre 2007 military exercises at Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Yeppoon, central Queensland.
Coming from Guam and Hawaii, the three women carry warnings about the social, political, Indigenous rights, health and environmental price paid by small communities when their homelands become militarised.
A Welcome Ceremony was held at the Rockhampton Airport by the Fitzroy Basin Elders. They were also welcomed by the Peace Convergence which is protesting the military exercises. The Guam and Hawaiian visitors responded with chanting and the giving of gifts.
The guest from Guam is Fanai Castro from the Organisation of Peoples for Indigenous Rights. OPIR campaigns for the Indigenous right to an act of self-determination and opposes the expansion of US militarisation of their small island.
>From Hawaii, Terri Keko’olani and Leimaile Quitevis represent the Demilitarize Zone Hawaii Aloha ‘Aina, a pan-Hawai’ian movement for demilitarisation and Indigenous rights.
All three women are Indigenous rights activists in their respective countries and identify militarisation as one of the manifestations of ongoing colonialism.
“Our guests have firsthand experience of the impact of militarisation on people’s lives. They bring a timely warning about the real price paid by local people when their home communities become militarised,” Dr Zohl de Ishtar from the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland. Dr de Ishtar is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
“It is an honour to receive such a welcoming from the Indigenous elders, since it is with us Indigenous peoples that the atrocities of colonialism first made its mark. In these days it seems that militarisation is the new colonialism,” said Fanai Castro a Chamoru (Indigenous) social justice activist from Guam.
“Shoalwater Bay Training Area is the only facility in the north-western Pacific which provides such extensive air-land-sea live-fire training capacity to the US military. Many of the planes, ships and submarines participating in the exercises come are homebased in or transit through Guam. Hawaii is the headquarters of the Pacific Command under whose jurisdiction the Talisman Sabre exercises fall,” said Dr Zohl de Ishtar.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Dr Zohl de Ishtar, Phone: 0429 422 645
Australia Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland