Resisting Talisman Sabre 09 and the Af/Pak War

Veteran members of the Catholic Worker movement Jim Dowling and Ciaron O'Reilly prepare to block a major access road to the Talisman Sabre military exerciseMembers of the Catholic Worker movement along with fellow peace activists blocking military vehicles on a major access road to the Talisman Sabre war games exercise area in Shoalwater Bay, QLD Veteran member of the Catholic Worker movement Jim Dowling prays before preparing to block a major access road to the Talisman Sabre military training facility

Members of the Catholic Worker movement along with fellow peace activists blocking military vehicles on a major access road to the Talisman Sabre war games exercise area in Shoalwater Bay, QLD Military vehicles were blocked for over an hour and a half this morning on a major access road to the Talisman Sabre war games exercise area in Shoalwater Bay, QLD

 Police arresting Jim Dowling for blocking military access to the Talisman Sabre training facility. Police arrest Jim Dowling for blocking military access to the Talisman Sabre training facility. Veteran members of the Catholic Worker movement Jim Dowling and Ciaron O'Reilly blockade military vehicles by kneeling in Nonviolent Resistance to the Talisman Sabre War Games Exercise Queensland Police prepare to arrest peace activists Jim Dowling & Ciaron O’ Reilly for blocking military vehicles access to the Talisman Sabre military training facility. Police arresting Anti-War activists Jim Dowling and Ciaron O’ Reilly for blocking military access to the Talisman Sabre training facility Police arrest Jim Dowling for blocking military access to the Talisman Sabre training facility. IMG_0012 Police arrest Ciaron O’ Reilly for blocking military access to the Talisman Sabre training facility.


Catholic Workers Arrested Blockading Military’s Road to Perdition

-Action Description
-Background on those Arrested
-Solidarity Suggestions
-Statement of Faith

-Attached Photograph Captions

-Vid – Grana ,12, “Pushtun Collateral Damage”

Updates and Background


Ph. Sean (mobile) 04237 499 46


Australian Catholic Workers, Jim Dowling and Ciaron O’Reilly were arrested this morning while blocking a major military access road to the Talisman Sabre 09 exercises being held at Shoalwater, central Queensland, Australia. Along with seven other anti war activists, the pair blockaded the road for over and hour and a half, and prevented more than a dozen US Army Jeep Troop carriers from entering the area.

The activists raised a signpost to mark the road “Talsiman Sabre 09 – The Road to Perdition”. They then knelt in the middle of the road holding signs stating “War is Terror is War” and “Resist the War on Afghanistan” while others present read the names of civilians and troops who have been killed in Afghanistan.

To minimise disruption to local citizens, private vehicles have been allowed access. And for safety, the highway is not blocked.

The pair appeared in court late this morning and are refusing to co-operate with bail conditions while the military exercise continues and will likely be held in custody for the length of the exercise.

O’Reilly stated, “Talisman Sabre is a $250 million exercise in futility. Talisman Sabre is not a game or an exercise, it is a fantasy – a war theatre with no civilians! Most of those being killed by American, Australian and Pakistan militaries are innocent civilians, most fatalities have been women and children. The Af/Pak war is presently escalating and expanding. These Talisman Sabre exercises are significant preparations for more killing.

The Australian involvement in the war on Afghanistan is now eight years old. Ten Australian troops, hundreds of British and U.S. soldiers and thousands of Afghani civilians have been killed, millions of Afghanis and Pakistanis have been made homeless or forced to flee into exile.

-Jim Dowling presently works and lives outside of Brisbane on the Peter Maurin Catholic Worker farm with his wife Anne and their seven children. He was one of the Christian Against All Terrorism group that broke into the secretive U.S. N.S.A. Pine Gap base near Alice Springs to carry out a citizen’s inspection during the recent war on Iraq.
-Ciaron O’Reilly spent a year in U.S. prisons as one of the ANZUS Ploughshares convicted of damaging a B52 Bomber in New York on the eve of George Bush Sr.’s war in 1991. O’Reilly was also part of the Pitstop Ploughshares arrested in Ireland in 2003 and charged with $2 1/2 million damage to another U.S. war plane en route to George Bush Jr.’s invasion of Iraq. The group was acquitted of all charges unanimously by an Irish jury in 2006.
-Enough Rope interview with Andrew Denton

*Solidarity letters and postcards can be sent to Jim Dowling or Ciaron O’Reilly c/- 69 Kurumba St. Kippa-Ring, Q.4021 Australia (mail will be redirected to the jail or watchhouse where they are detained for the length of Talisman Sabre 09)

*Some practical support you can do over July is for their families in Brisbane…. .
– Jim’s wife Anne Rampa, and the 7 Dowling children, will remain on the Peter Maurin Catholic Worker farm minus one of their breadwinners. You may wish to consider making a donation to the Dowling family at this time. make checks out to “Anne Rampa” c/- Catholic Worker Farm
2705 Mt. Mee Rd. Oceanview, Q.4521 AUSTRALIA
You can phone Anne during July to see what kind of support she needs
07 3425 3003 (international +61 7 3425 3003)
– Ciaron’s father Garrett O’Reilly remains in hospital for the past 5 weeks undergoing a series of tests. You may wish to send a card to Mary and Garrett O’Reilly 38 Elbury St. Mitchelton Brisbane Q.4053 Australia. Any other offers of help on this front can be made through Sean O’Reilly mobile 0423 749 946 or email,

– If you would like to make a financial donation to this act of nonviolent resistance (we have failed to set up a seperate account), you could send a cheque to “Ciaron O’Reilly” P.O. Box 6376 Fairfield Gardens, Brisbane, Q.4103 AUSTRALIA. This will help us with transport, outreach etc.

Blockading the Military’s Road to Perdition
Resisting Talsiman Sabre 09 & the Af/Pak War

“Because we want peace with half a heart, half a life and will, the
war making continues. Because the making of war is total – but the making of peace by our cowardice is partial.”
Fr. Daniel Berrigan SJ

The $300 million “Talisman Sabre 09” exercise presently taking places in central Queensland/Australia involves 20,000 U.S. and 7,000 Australian troops, aircraft carriers and fighter bombers. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan the large “Strike of the Sword” U.S. military offensive is underway with Australian support.

We come to Talisman Sabre to lock the gates, block the access road to the Shoalwater exercise area and read out loud the names of the dead of the war on Afghanistan – ten Australian, hundreds of U.K./U.S. troops, and thousands of Afghani civilians. We come to nonviolently resist this exercise and the expanding, escalating “Af/Pak War” on the Pushtun, Afghani and Pakistani peoples.
We have come to the Talisman Sabre exercise in Queenland, Australia, during a time when the now Obama led war on the Pushtun people of northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is wreaking death and destruction. No target is off limits; weddings, funerals, villages, sites of worship, homes and the innocent labelled “collateral damage” have been bombed in this 8 year war. As usual. in modern warfare, the victims are mostly women and children. They die in a flash of an air strike or slowly of untreated wounds. Some will die in years to come from cluster bombs and other unexploded ordianance fired today.

It is a war that has no popular support, yet little visible popular oppostion, in the countries waging it. A war with general disengagement within the countries of the imperial centre from where it is prosecuted and bloody death and destruction on the fringe of empire – this time in the lands of the Pushtun people of northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan.

It remains self evident “That truth is the first casualty of war!” H.W. Johnson
British and U.S. governments now acknowledge that they sold the 2003 invasion of Iraq on a bunch of lies that have since been clearly exposed (Saddam had no WMD!).

We have been sold the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan on another bunch of lies. Australian involvement in this war is now 8 years old – from 600 troops on the ground to providing targetting information from the U.S. NSA Pine Gap base (near Alice Springs) for U.S. bombing raids. One such raid by a B1 Bomber killed over 100 Afghani civilians last month.

The war is now refered to as “Af/Pak” by the Obama administration and Pentagon warlords. It continues to be marketed as a Bush’s neverending “War on Terror” This month we witness an American surge in southern Afghanistan and the Pakistani’s military offensive in its northern provinces that is creating millions of refugees.

As Peter Ustinov reflected “War is the terrorism of the rich. Terrorism is the war of the poor!” The present policies and actions of Obama and Rudd will create more orphans, more vengeance and more terrorism. There is no military solution in central Asia. To seriously address the issues of terror one would have to address the 30 year role of the Saudi royal family funding, Pakistani military training and U.S. empire building in promoting the wholesale terror of government forces and the retail terror of paramilitary groups employed in the “great game” of empire building in central Asia. Instead of addressing the role of these rich, corrupt and powerful governments and militaries we are asked to keep on killing the poor. In Australia the churches, the academy and the media maintain a house broken silence in the face of this 30 year slaughter and destruction of Afghanistan.
All the powers require from us is our silence and sedation in the face of these great crimes that are being visited on the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan today. We know that war is terror is war. We refuse to be sedated from the cries of the poor, suffering at the hands of the governnments prosecuting this war. In resisting Talisman Saber and the Af/Pak War, we will break our silence and join in a shared context of jeopardy – with the peoples persecuted under the Af/Pak war, the soldiers trained and deployed to prosecute this war. We will enter this jeopardy in a spirit of nonviolent resistance to Talisman Sabre and the Af/Pak War

We know as Australians, our government generates the lie that our security is only to be found in service to empire. This has been our historic role from the 1800’s to the present day – dispatching Australian troops to Aotearoa, Sudan, South Africa, Gallipoli, Malaysia, Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan to service American and British empires. As Christians, we know that our security lies in following the disarmed Christ in practising the acts of mercy, nonviolence and the realisation of peace and justice.

Jim Dowling
Ciaron O’Reilly

July 9th. 2009



*Grana, 12, is the sole survivor of a coalition bombing in southern Helmand province that took her arm and her leg, and killed nine members of her family

Updates and Background


Ph. Sean (mobile) 04237 499 46

8 thoughts on “Resisting Talisman Sabre 09 and the Af/Pak War

  1. Ciaron O'Reilly says:

    Hi Folks,

    Much to our surprise we’re outta custody

    As you know our action last Thursday went down well. Report and photos on our continuinally updated Resist Talisman Sabre blog

    Our Catholic Worker focus on coming to the exercises were to resist U.S. and Australian complicity in the expanding and esclating Af/Pak War at a time of a major military offensives in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. An emphasis, we felt, was not a focus of the broader peace movement mobilising against the exercises. Our strategy was to resist and stay in jail until the end of the exercises calling for more nonviolent resistance to Talsiman Sabre 09 and the Af/Pak War.

    Post arrest, Jim Dowling and I were taken to the Rockhampton police watchhouse and appeared before a magistrate Thursday morning. The magistrate rejected police bail conditions that would limit our freedom of movement and proximity to Talisman Sabre sites stating that it would be “misuse of the bail act”. All that was required for our release was to sign an undertaking we would return to court August 12th. for a mention. We made a statement in court saying that we would refuse to apply for bail and enter a plea until the end of the Talsiman Sabre exercises July 25th. and called for further nonviolent resistance to Talisman Sabre 09 exercises and the escalating Af/Pak War.

    The magistrate would not sign a warrant to have us moved to the Capricornia Jail so we settled into into the sensory deprivation and blaring tv sensurround of a holding pod in the police cells. Over the daze that followed communication with the outside world was kept to a minimum. The police were keen to get rid of us and were frustrated with the magistrate’s refusal to sign a warrant to transfer us to jail and our refusal to sign self recoginance bail.

    Immediately following the magistrate’s hearing my brother Sean was allowed a short visit where he informed me our father had taken a turn for the worse in hospital suffering a mild stroke. Later that first night, I was awoken from a deep sleep to find a police officer I had gone to high school with in the ’70’s encouraging us to take bail for a variety of reasons. Jim and I prayed and reflected during our time together and were resolved to stay put.

    We have been staying at the “Martin Luther King Jr. House of Christian Nonviolence” set up in Yepoon for the period of the exercise. The major strategy of the folks in the house is for back country actions into the Shoalwater exercise area during the live fire period of the exercises.

    The police allowed 2 visits from the MLK House police liason person. During the second visit it was made clear to us that we were needed on the outside if more than one back country action was going to proceed. Those who had gathered for the broader weekend Peace Convergeance would be leaving town and resources, personnel and support would be at a minimum for further nonviolent resistance.

    So after much prayer and discussion we decided to cut our jail witness short to support further nonviolent resistance to Talsiman Sabre. On release on Monday morning, we have been struck by the embrace by the anti-war nonviolent resistance movement of the significance of Australian and U.S. complicity in the Af/Pak War.

    Presently the Bonhoeffer 4 reamain undetected in the Shoalwater exercise area and the health of my father has improved.
    The (Melbourne )Age: Game on for Christian protest:….html

    Others are preparing to go in – in the days to come.

    Many thanx for your support and prayers
    Stay updated through our blog
    Feel free to call me on the numbers above

    Statement of the “Bonhoeffer 4” presently in the exercise area……
    CONTACT the military on TS09 info line 1800 639 724 and demand that the exercises be stopped!!

    Press Release
    Monday 13 July 2009

    Christian Activists enter restricted military area during live-fire exercises

    Four nonviolent Christian activists have entered the Shoalwater Bay Training Area this morning to stop the Talisman Saber exercises. Calling themselves the “Bonhoeffer 4” after Kevin Rudd’s favourite theologian, Margaret Pestorius (44, Social Worker, Cairns), Jarrod McKenna (28, School Peace Educator, Perth) Jessica Morrison (33, University lecturer, Melbourne) and Rev. Simon Moyle (32, Baptist Minister, Melbourne) are currently moving towards a live-fire area. They call on the Australian and US forces to cease their involvement in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the undeclared war in Pakistan.

    The group has released the following statement:

    In his article in the Monthly, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called Bonhoeffer “without a doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century.” We have taken the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because he embodied a serious, costly commitment to peacemaking and ending injustice, “a costly grace”. Yet Rudd’s $100 billion long-term military spending plan reveals the Prime Minister has forgotten his hero and is in need of some sisters and brothers to jog his memory.

    That is why we will put our own bodies on the line in order to stop the U.S./ Australian Talisman Saber Military Exercises and jam a spoke in the wheel of war. These exercises are implicated in killing and injuring our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including untold numbers of civilians. This “war without end”, as George Bush put it, has no exit strategy and no end in sight. We will not overcome the violent terrorism of the poor with the violent terrorism of the rich.

    Rev. Moyle has been in contact with the Defence Department about our plans for more than 7 months ( in order to build a relationship of trust and openness. Air Commander Meier has stated in Parliament, “If we know there is an unauthorised person into the Commonwealth land at Shoalwater Bay…the exercise is stopped.” The Defence Department has been notified of our presence on the base. We call on Air Commander Meier to keep his word to the Australian people.

    We plan to be inside the area for as long as possible, and are well prepared for a long stay. We have released a red helium balloon from the base.

    As Rudd’s hero Bonhoeffer put it, “The church has three possible ways it can act against the State. First, it can ask the State if its actions are legitimate. Second, it can aid the victims of the State action… The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.” With our actions and our lives we plan to do all three.

  2. We have had a detective parked outside of our houose this morning doing (not so covert suveillance)…he’s been brought in from the livestock squad. So I guess this could be the last rouondup!

    The Bonhoeffer 4 appeared in Rocky court this morning


    7 More Activists Inside

    Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area:

    Call for End to War on Afghanistan

    Call the following people for further comment on the group’s activities.

    Ciaron O’Reilly 0411516434

    Sean O’Reilly 0423749946

    Margaret Pestorius 0403214422

    Professional photos available on request: Margaret 0403214422

    Seven anti-war activists entered the Shoalwater Bay military training area in central Queensland during joint US-Australian Talisman Sabre exercises. The seven remain in the area and are presently moving towards the ‘live fire’ areas with the intention of shutting down the exercises. They remain undetected by Australian Defence Force Security and the Qld Police guarding the area.

    The activists are:

    Yulangi Bardon, 21

    Jake Bolton, 27

    Jim Dowling, 53

    Bryan Law, 55

    Emily Nielson, 19

    Culley Palmer, 21

    Mark Palmer, 51

    The group stated:

    “US and Australian militaries, training at Talisman Sabre are presently involved in waging an escalated war in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. Most of the victims in this eight year war have been civilians yet the concept of civilians and civilian loss seems to have been completely lost on the military. There aren’t any civilians permitted in the exercises. Civilians are eliminated here as they are eliminated in war.

    “As civilians we enter this area in solidarity with all the civilian victims of the US and Australian military. We enter the exercise area with the intention of shutting down the exercises.

    “We come from varied backgrounds: Christian and Humanist traditions. We come in common purpose to nonviolently resist these rehearsals for war and the escalating war on the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    “It is universally acknowledged that lies told by the Australian Parliament and the US government regarding “Weapons of Mass Destruction” [WMD] in Iraq led us to an illegal invasion and disastrous war in that country. Prime Minister Rudd’s recent assertion that Australian troops waging war in Afghanistan decreases the possibility of terrorism at home is also a lie leading us all to further disaster, death and destruction.

    “We call upon all sectors of civil society in Australia to take action against such rehearsals for invasion and war as Talisman Sabre. We call upon all sectors of civil society to take action against the escalating war on the peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    “We call upon Air Commodore Meier to make good on his word to the Australian Senate “that if unauthorised personnel are known to be on or near the live fire area, we stop the clock on the exercises until they are found.” [June 4th 09] Despite our attempts to communicate, Thursday’s statement by Brigadier Bob Brown, contrary to this position, exhibits a negligence in relation to human safety that echoes the Australian and US military behaviour in Afghanistan.

    Call for further comment on the group’s activities: Martin Luther King House of Nonviolence, Yeppoon:-

    Sean O’Reilly 0423749946

    Ciaron O’Reilly 0411516434

    Margaret Pestorius 0403214422

    Professional photos available.

  4. CALLOUT for Solidarity with 7 Anti-War Activists Presently at Large in the Talisman Sabre 09 Exercise Area

    *For photos and personal statements of the 7 activists go to this link
    http://www.indymedi 93188

    *ABC Report stories/2009/ 07/17/2628539. htm?site= news

    *Call Talisman Sabre Hotline and demand the end of the exercise
    1800 639 724

    *Further background on nonviolent resistance to Talisman Sabre 09
    http://talismansabr e.wordpress. com/


    -Some of the 7 will not be co-operating with bail conditions when arre
    sted. Write a letter ot postcard
    to one of the 7 c/- 69 Kurumba St. Kippa-Ring Q.4021 AUSTRALIA

    -Financial donations c/- “Ciaron O’Reilly” P.O. Box 6376 Fairfield Gardens Q.. 4103 AUSTRALIA

  5. Convey my best wishes, solidarity and warmth to the guys in the ‘firing zone’ if at all possible.
    It fills my heart with joy/pride /compassion to hear about your efforts and to be part of an international movement.
    Your committment is inspiring coz our court case has caused us to back peddle and focus on prisoner support etc.
    Take Care.
    Ciaron – we were talking about you only yesterday and were so glad you called by at the Kebele collective in Bristol,UK.

    1. Why are we in Afghanistan? says:

      As yet another Australian family grieves for a son lost in Afghanistan and politicians seek to find words to instill continuing enthusiasm for this war,

      WHO WILL READ THIS REPORT? It has an anodyne sounding name but reveals more about Afghanistan than all the spin put out by military strategists and refugee haters.

      UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection

      Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Afghanistan July 2009 ?

      * 2008 was the most violent year in Afghanistan since 2001

      * One out of every four refugees in the world today is from Afghanistan

      * Civilian casualties have increased by 40% on last year

      * Afghans have fled to 69 different countries –2.6 million are in
      Pakistan and Iran

      * The top 15 destination countries of Afghan asylum-seekers in 2008 recorded an increase in numbers

      United Kingdom (3,700 claims),
      Turkey (2,600)
      Greece (2,300)
      Italy (2,000)
      Tajikstan (1360)

      South-East Asia, 1,617 Afghan asylum-seekers arrived in 2008 compared to 900 in 2007. They arrived in India, Malaysia, Indonesia and now Australia.

      Civilian casualties resulted from the actions of both anti-Government and pro-Government elements, roughly evenly split.

      The pattern of deliberate attacks on civilians by Taleban forces, summary executions, massacres, the deliberate and systematic destruction of livelihoods through a “scorched earth” policy, and forcible relocation are widely reported.

      It is particularly important to note that the operational capacity of the Taleban and other armed groups in Kabul, are not only evidenced by high-profile attacks, such as suicide bombings, but also through more permanent infiltration in some neighbourhoods and the regular distribution of threatening “night-letters”.

      40,000 persons transit daily official crossing points with Pakistan in either direction with minimal if any formal processing.
      4,000 Afghans, without entry visas, cross each day into Iran, often with the assistance of smugglers. Neither country has national refugee status adjudication.

      Of particular note to those in Government who would seek to politicise asylum seekers are the numbers of people who camp in neighbouring countries in preference to heading further afield.

      Today in Pontianak in Indonesia in an old warehouse which has been converted into a detention centre, 100 mainly Afghan asylum seekers are entering their fifth day of a hunger strike. They were visited once by UNHCR and have been waiting months for an answer, living on rice, potatoes and water with no access to fresh air. Among these people is a man who was held as a forced labourer by the Taleban for 10 years.

      Please send this report to your local member and State Senators to increase their understanding of Afghan Asylum Seekers Plight and to help them understand why people come by boat. There is no other way.

      Addresses below

      Pamela Curr
      Campaign Coordinator
      Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)
      12 Batman Street Melbourne 3003
      Tel 03 93266066/ fax 0393265199/mob 0417517075

  6. The Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ: Ciaron O'Reilly says:

    (30 min audio) ZZZ ALTER-NARRATIVES- Ciaron O’Reilly reflects on A Life of NVDA – formed under Joh (Queensland/Australia) in da ’70’s unleashed on the Global War of Terror….

    Reflections on issues of sustaining nonviolent activism in and from Australia…..

    -under the Queensland police state of the ’70’s
    -resistance to prep for nuclear war
    -war on East Timor
    -the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan

    4ZZZ LINK…..

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