Christian Action Network

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Activists vow to disrupt Australia military drills

CANBERRA, June 19 (Reuters) – Anti-war activists said on Tuesday they were prepared to risk their lives to disrupt a military exercise involving almost 30,000 U.S. and Australian troops off Australia’s north coast.  More than 120 military aircraft, a number of tanks and 30 naval vessels, including nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, are taking part in the exercise, stretched across two Australian states including areas near the Great Barrier Reef.  “Our consciences will not allow us to stand by while troops prepare for more war,” said Treena Lenthall, a spokeswoman for a group of peace organisations.  She said activists had infiltrated the training area and would stay as long as possible. Australian defence officials said they were unaware of any protesters, however.  Held every two years, the Talisman Sabre exercise starting on Tuesday will involve about 7,500 Australian soldiers and 20,000 U.S. marines and sailors in Queensland state and the Northern Territory, an area bigger than Belgium.  A task group including the Japan-based U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk deployed in the Coral Sea last week for the exercise, which runs until July 2 and which U.S. officials say is necessary for security in the Asia-Pacific.  Activists say the exercise could result in whale deaths or injuries caused by powerful warship sonars which can cause widespread whale beachings, although Australia’s military says measures have been taken to protect sealife.  Defence officials last month confirmed that submarines would enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park during the exercise, but promised the environment was in no danger.  “The exercises are used to practice bombing, raiding and invading, not defence,” a Web site for the Peace Convergence protest groups said.  “Heavy metals and toxins used in munitions, erosion-causing amphibious landings, the possibility of toxic spills and the use of sonar all impact on the 38 listed vulnerable species in the area including dugong and the Green Turtle,” the Web site said.  An open invitation to peace, environment, indigenous, women’s and religious groups has been issued to oppose the war games and voice opposition to the Iraq war, in which around 1,500 Australian soldiers are taking part.  Japan, which recently signed a security pact with Australia, has sent observers as a possible first step to Japanese troops training in Australia in future.

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June 19, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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