Swan Island Peace Convergence Day 1: Claiming space
I would have called today the warm up – but it’s freezing down here and the wind is blowing a gale!
Today is Independence Day in the US, so our theme was ‘Independence from the US Day’. Our call was for Australia to be gutsy enough to make our own decisions about our involvement in Afghanistan. It was also to challenge the notion that there is anything liberating about Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan.
So we began the morning on the steps of Flinders St Station, with a human Statue of Liberty and 20 people dying in around her feet. It made for a great piece of street theatre – and dozens and dozens of passers by took photos of our spectacle. A passer by from Afghanistan said he was almost moved to tears by our presence; and a man whose brother is serving in the military and said he couldn’t agree more with us.
We then came down to Queenscliff where we were joined by a number of locals. We again had ‘Lady Liberty’ in the roundabout in the main street of town, with people dying in around her feet. Same action, but very different vibe.
We processed down to the gates of Swan Island where we sang songs and held our banners in front of the 30 good humoured (but rather cold) police that formed a line in front of us. One policeman was brave enough to tell us that at least half the police that we stood in front of would agree with our stance about Afghanistan.
Today’s actions were focused on the needs of children, so the next segment had the children with story time in front of the gates of Swan Island, with our banners providing a wind barrier around them. We heard about the lion who refused to kill, choosing love instead, and the children chalked around the bodies of the adults who lay on the ground. The children played cricket and blew bubbles, as well as watching the boats pass on by in the channel between us and the Swan Island base. There was also kite flying in the local park, symbolizing solidarity with the children in Afghanistan.
We are now back in our warm accommodation, where we are warming up and looking forward to learning more about the 35 people who are joining us for tonight.
I feel we’ve taken the first step out in claiming some space for peace, and look forward to taking the next step in our blockade tomorrow.