On Sunday 9th of August, House Conspiracy, the art centre located in 42 Mollison Street, West End, will host an exhibit titled Peace Crimes about Pine Gap, the US military base located on Australian territory in Alice Spring. For details about the exhibit see https://www.facebook.com/events/286186712647179/
The exhibit will show archival material belonging to the activists who broke into Pine Gap in 2016 to protest Australia’s involvement in modern techno-warfare. It will also feature a conversation between Dr Federica Caso, and expert in militarism, and the peace activists Margaret Pestorious and Any Paine about the anti-war movement in Queensland.
Peace Crimes takes the name from the book that it launches, Peace Crimes: Pine Gap, National security and Dissent (available at The Queensland University Press) by the journalist Kieran Finnane, who will join the exhibit via Zoom from Alice Spring. The book puts Australian militarism on trial by recounting the story of the peace movement against war and militarised surveillance.
Many activists have been protesting against the operation of Pine Gap and its involvement in global surveillance and drone warfare. The book was prompted by the court case that six Peace Pilgrims, Andy Paine, Margaret Pestorius, Franz Dowling, Tim Webb, Pauli Christie and Jim Dowling faced for breaking into Pine Gap in 2016. The activists were driven by their faith and intended to sing laments and prayers to commemorate the victims of war killed in the military operations supported by the logistical operation of Pine Gap.
Finnane’s Peace Crimes is animated by the desire to expose the injustice revolving around Pine Gap. For Finnane, people should know about Pine Gap and the admirable efforts of the people who dedicate their life to denouncing it. With Pine Gap, Australia is involved in the US military operations that collect information and kill people in faraway countries Australia is not even at war with. Pine Gap is a crucial part of ICCC modern warfare– information, command, control, and communication – that is decentralised and unaccountable. The stealthy participation of Australia in modern warfare unfolds at Pine Gap, a site designed to make war invisible.
The intervention of the peace activists makes Pine Gap, modern warfare, and Australian militarism visible again. Their stories, photos, videos, testimonies, court cases, art, and performances are for us to start talking about how war operates silently in the background of our daily lives.
Cover image, Shutterstock