Peace convergence to challenge war games

Issue 

The Peace Convergence 2007 will be a gathering of activists who oppose the Talisman Sabre war games and the testing of depleted uranium munitions. The long-term dangers of depleted uranium, mainly from weapons, are now a concern throughout the world.

Talisman Sabre 2007 is taking place in Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, Delamere Range Facility (NT) and Bradshaw Field Training Area (NT) from the end of May to July 2. It will involve 13,700 US troops and more than 12,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) troops.

These joint military exercises began in 2001 and have happened every couple of years since then. The ADF and the United States military say they need the exercises to enhance both nations' defence force capabilities to deal with the "war on terror". But these war games are more about honing their offensive bombing, raiding and invading skills rather than anything else.

Protesters are concerned that Operation Talisman Sabre will badly impact on Indigenous heritage sites and world heritage sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, as well as damage wetlands and threaten marine species such as dugongs, humpback whales and green turtles. Local residents will be affected by noise pollution. Many are also concerned about the presence of US personnel and US nuclear-powered vessels in Australian waters, as well as the nuclear weapons they may be carrying.

The convergence will highlight the ecological destruction and pollution of the beautiful Shoalwater Bay, a pristine national treasure of 400,000 hectares, which comprises hundreds of kilometres of coral coast, beaches, bays, harbour wetlands and islands. Its geographic isolation has kept it pristine, but it is now threatened by mild radioactive and heavy metal toxicity (considered worse than lead poisoning).

Depleted uranium, which is used in armor-piercing munitions, has been known to create deformities in babies, as well as cause other illnesses. Once exploded, this toxic metal vaporises and can be carried through the air and water.

The convergence will be held from June 18-24 in the Shoalwater Bay region. It's a chance to alert people about the danger associated with these military exercises and the waste of money and resources, and to call for an end to the illegal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by US and Australian troops.

[Rainee Lyleson is a member of Resistance in Sydney. For more information visit http://www.peaceconvergence.com. To book a seat on the bus leaving Sydney for Shoalwater Bay on June 21 and returning on June 25, phone Simon on 0438 297 552 or email simon@cunich.com.au.]