Blood and Light in the Darkness of Thales Weapons in Brisbane
Thales, a multi national weapons corporation is terrorising the people of West Papua. Thales is militarising their forests and lands. Thales is transferring weaponised armoured vehicles with turrets featuring automated optics – for automatic killing.
This year at Wage Peace we hope to hold Thales to account for their weapons sales to Indonesia. They are not a corporation to be honoured. They have no social licence to operate.
A small crew, younger activists held by their Christian faith, rocked up in the night to Thales Brisbane as a sign of the light and as a sign of commitment to a year of action at Thales. It was Epiphany, the feast represented by the bright star, the light of justice.
Epiphany is a feast in the Christian season of Christmas. It tells the story of the visit of a set of non-Jewish outsiders, “wise men” or “magi” or “kings”. The Magi recognised the star as a sign of justice, and traveled from the East, presenting gifts to the Holy Family.
They were drawn by a bright light representing right relationship and hope of a more just world; it was a light that would dispel the darkness of a period of violence and terror.
60000 internally displaced people face this darkness in West Papua right now. It only takes a few cruel and despotic acts of terror by military forces for people who have lived in their home territory for thousands of years, to be compelled to move away in a series of dangerous journeys. First Nations people face this story over and over: acts of terror resulting in movement as they flee to protect their families. Movement away from homelands, is followed by dispossession from sovereignty and land as they seek safety.
Thales with other weapons corporations such as Boeing and Electro Optic Systems and Rheinmetall are profiting from the sale of weapons which are used in West Papua by the military and police of Indonesia. The website www.waronwestpapua.org displays this flow of weapons. Australia is represented through the delivery of the weaponised Bushmasters.
Over 200 weapons export licenses for Indonesia have been issued by Australia in the last two years according to the ABC’s Andrew Greene. It’s hard to know what weapons these licenses are for exactly, but we know that Indonesia is a key target market for Australian weapons exports. Rheinmetall have factories both in Brisbane and in Indonesia presumably to facilitate transfer of shared components. Electro Optic Systems are transferring their weaponised automatic killer turrets. Boeing is sending attack helicopters, if not from Australia – then direct from the US. Australia has provided Lockheed Martin heavy-lift Hercules air transport planes.
All these weapons are used IN WEST PAPUA – not for defence, not for overseas expedition, but to disposses and repress the people of the subjugated colonies of the elites. People in West Papua are calling on Australia to stop the weapons trade. Their people are suffering. They do not want to end up dispossessed from their sovereignty in the same violent way that happened to First Nations people in Australia.
“It was with this story of West Papua on our hearts and our lips that we as young Christians gathered for Epiphany. We sang psalms and prayed for the light of justice to rise over West Papua. Our friends are there,” said Eleni Dowling who helped imagine and set up the action.
Two weeks later, people were back at Thales again with our friend Ronny Kareni from the West Papua diaspora. We poured symbolic blood and remembered Ronny’s friends and family members who are facing extraordinary and persistent violence in West Papua. We remembered the 60000 internally placed people living away from their food gardens, schools and villages.
“We do not accept that $30bn a year of Australian public money should be pouring into weapons companies with or without exports”, said Margie Pestorius. “This is a time for Earth care, Earth repair, not warfare.”
Blood was poured out on the ground at Thales. We remembered the blood spilled in the Frontier Wars on Australian Land. And We remembered those terrorised in West Papua. Again the windows of the entrance were pasted with the names of those killed by militarised violence inflicted by the police and military. We pasted slogans, and photos of those killed. and reminders of their duty to stop the war against West Papua.
Ronny Kareni spoke and sang about the injustices. “To sing is to resist in West Papua”, he reminded us drawing on the memory of martyrs such as Arnold Ap who gave their lives to the struggle against Indonesian land theft.
Thales is not the only target. But Thales has delivered weaponised vehicles.
We are keen to find what makes up the 200 weapons export licences that are being approved by the regulators, the Defence Export Controls Office.
Join us in Naarm, in Sydney and in Brisbane. Also in Lithgow, Bendigo and Benalla. Say no! No weapons exports. This is a time for repair and regeneration. Earth care NOT Warfare!