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Anti-war protestors blockade military training base

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 25 September, 2012 - 9:53 AM
Children are among the 80 people protesting against the war in Afghanistan at Swan Island. (Photo: Swan Island Peace Convergence)

Around 80 protestors are blockading Swan Island off Queenscliff, a site which trains our SAS soldiers and international spies, with one of the protestors proclaiming he has no loyalties to Australia.

Since approximately 5:30am, the group of adults and children have been blocking the bridge to the island to protest Australia’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, protestor Reverend Simon Moyle defended the Swan Island Peace Convergence's choice to target the soldiers.

"I don't have a particular loyalty to Australia," he said.

MAP: Swan Island

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Reverend Simon Moyle, a Baptist minister who identifies as a non-violent educator, is among the protestors, and told Neil Mitchell the protest they had been “fairly effective, very disciplined and non-violent.”

However by preventing soldiers from attending work, Neil Mitchell said their behaviour was akin to Vietnam veterans being targeted individually instead of politicians, which he described as “one of the most destructive things that happened for this country.”

”The soldiers are just doing their job, they're doing what the politicians told them. Why target the soldiers?” he said.

Reverend Moyle said he had visited Afghanistan and was appalled with the conditions the Afghan people were enduring under the 11-year ‘War on Terror’.

"It's the least we can do for the Afghan people who are suffering now under 11 years of war and just the most hideous conditions," he said.

The Reverend said they had written letters and spoken with politicians, but now believed the next best step was to prevent the soldiers and ASIS, Australia’s international intelligence agency, employees from access the island.

"We've done everything possible that we could've done up to this point,” he said. “Once you get to that stage of having tried every legal means possible to stop this, do you stop there?”

”We're prepared to put our bodies on the line, we're prepared to be arrested, we're prepared to have criminal convictions for this.”

The Reverend said the protest was not antagonistic and was not designed to insult the soldiers.


The children protesting lead a candlelight vigil at Swan Island last night. (Photo: Swan Island Peace Convergence)

”We're in a sense trying to help them to not go to work,” he said.

Reverend Moyle said the young children who were among the protest had made the choice to attend independent of their parents’ involvement.

"They're our kids, they actually made the choice. Every parent asks their kids,” he said.

LISTEN: Reverend Simon Moyle speaks with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • for those who have misgivings about the involvement of children in a peaceful act of nonviolent resistance, think about the violence , objectification, agonistic competition, "us against them" our kids are pulled into everyday in our media culture, without their consent.
    And then think about the children in Afghanistan who are pulled into violence without their consent. It seems to me that in being given the opportunity to be alongside peace-making adults, these are very lucky children indeed.

    beth Wednesday 26 September, 2012 - 6:19 PM
  • We were not protesting AGAINST the soldiers. We want our troops home and safe. We want Australian troops to stop fighting American wars. The Australian SAS troops in Afghanistan are taking orders from US special operatives. Why do our soldiers have to be put at risk, and die at the US Government's say so? We were there in solidarity for Australian troops who have died, for Afghan troops and civilians who have died and troops of other nationalities who have died. We want peace. War benefits no one.

    The children there did not take part in the blockade. There was one child there 9 years of age, holding a banner and moved aside immediately when the Police asked us to. That 9yo has a better social concious than the majority of adults I know and if he was my child I would be proud. Also, given that the blockade was non-violent on both sides he was not in harms way at any time.

    The other children participated in the way of making banners for the event, decorating glass jars that we placed on the road with candles, and flying kites in solidarity with the Afghan children who have been affected by this 11 year war.

    Sarah Hathway Wednesday 26 September, 2012 - 6:02 PM
  • The kids want to be there. Ask them if you don't believe me.

    In fact I saw a child ask his parents whether he was allowed to protest (his parents weren't involved in the protest) and his parents said no. I don't see how you can suggest that one child has had his or her autonomy stripped and another has not...

    Dan Wednesday 26 September, 2012 - 10:06 AM
  • Gordon Melville, those "gun loving idiots" protect our country. What have you ever done to protect Australia's interests?
    Go back to your blanket and cower under it...

    Tom Foley Tuesday 25 September, 2012 - 5:47 PM
  • Gordon Melville Tuesday 25 September, 2012 - 10:08 AM

    Gordon, I doubt these men who protect us and protect Australia would value you much either after that comment, but they would still die for you. You are worse than an idiot.

    Karen Tuesday 25 September, 2012 - 3:05 PM
  • To Gordon Melville, you must be a complete flog to make a comment like that or just a tool who likes to provoke people. As for the 'Reverend' and his band of followers, you are doing little other than insult the memory of the 38 Australian soldiers that have given their lives for their country. To also involve children, who have absolutely no concept of why they are there, in your misguided protests is reprehensible and an indictment on you and their idiotic parents!

    Sinbad Tuesday 25 September, 2012 - 2:56 PM

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