As part of Peace Convergence 2015, three “Quaker Grannies for Peace” set up a tea table on July 13, blocking the access road to Queensland's Samuel Hill military base, which is being used for the Talisman Sabre military exercises.
They set up a table and chairs and invited soldiers to have tea and cake in order to engage in dialogue with them.
They are among more than eight activists risking arrest in the Talisman Sabre live training area in Shoalwater Bay. The activists are engaged in actions to slow down and disrupt the joint US/Australia/Japan/NZ war exercises and protest the high human and economic cost of war, the militarisation of our region and aggressive sabre rattling toward China.
"These Talisman Sabre exercises represent preparations for war — not peacemaking — in a climate of aggressive posturing: the US versus China in this case" said Margaret Pestorius, one of the activists in the training area.
The Grannies said: “Our Quaker peace testimony from 1661 says ‘We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons for any end or under any pretence whatsoever’.”
Quaker Granny Helen Bayes said: “Negotiation is not currently part of the war rehearsals, so we are drawing attention to this missing element. It is essential to achieve peace.
Another Granny said: "We are asking the soldiers: ‘How do you think the Chinese view these war rehearsals? Do you think it is helping our relationship with our biggest trading partner?'.”
Quaker Granny Dawn Joyce said: “We come with the conviction that a world of increasingly destructive weaponry threatens our continued existence and that non-violent strategies are essential to our survival.”
The Grannies were arrested by military police and handed over to local police, after repeatedly refusing requests to leave. They were charged with Commonwealth trespassing offences.
The Grannies were convicted on July 14 of trespass and fined $500 with no conviction recorded.