Thursday, May 1, 2008

Anti-Bases Campaign Congratulates Ploughshares

Anti-Bases Campaign Congratulates Ploughshares

Anti-Bases Campaign Congratulates Ploughshares For Giving Waihopai A Kick In The Balls

The Anti-Bases Campaign, which has campaigned for 20 years for the closure of the Waihopai spybase, congratulates the ANZAC Ploughshares group for their brilliant and courageous action today which has left one of Waihopai's Big Balls deflated and the secret State with egg all over its face. We know no more about the action than anybody else and we have relied on the media for our information. Those arrested are known to us, having taken part in some of our most recent activities at the base and in Blenheim. There is a long history of cooperation between our two groups but the action today was entirely of Ploughshares' inspiration. And bloody good on them, we say.

The Waihopai spybase is New Zealand's single most important contribution to all American-led wars, much more so than any SAS heroics in Afghanistan, for instance. Despite being under nominal New Zealand control, it is, in everything but name, an American spybase operating on New Zealand soil and at our expense. So the Ploughshares action has struck a blow right at the heart of the US military and intelligence empire, with which "nuclear free and independent" New Zealand remains fully complicit. In every sense of the word, Waihopai makes New Zealand a satellite of the US. For details of what Waihopai does, see

ABC has always called for the closure of the base. If the spineless politicians won't do it, whether out of ignorance or ideology or both, then it is left up to the people of NZ to do the job for them. ABC has always supported non-violent direct action in relation to Waihopai protests and today's action is a textbook example. It is a symbolic action (the dome's function is to hide which civilian satellites the dish beneath is spying on), where nobody got hurt and all that was damaged was, literally, a lot of very expensive air, which will generate the usual outpouring of hot air from those left redfaced by this major security breach. Those responsible have fronted up to take the consequences of their actions and we salute their courage in doing so. We know these people and the word "terrorist" is completely inapplicable to them.

However briefly, ANZAC Ploughshares have actually closed Waihopai and they have, quite literally, exposed the secrets hidden within, the crimes committed in our name by an outpost of US Intelligence on our soil.

We've always said that Waihopai constitutes the biggest balls in Marlborough. Today ANZAC Ploughshares gave that blot on our national conscience a thoroughly well deserved kick in the balls.

Murray Horton


Update 3.00pm 1 May:

Sam, Peter and Adi are being held in separate cells at Blenheim Police Station. They are in high spirits and are enjoying their fellowship with the Police staff supervising them. Mike Knowles, the Chirstchurch lawyer representing the three men has been in regular contact with them and will travel to Blenheim on Monday for the second bail hearing.

The action has attracted international attention and opinion within New Zealand seems clearly divided. There are many who think the action has raised critical questions about the role of a facility most Kiwis were not aware they were funding and those who think the action was a huge waste of money and the three men involved should be punished severely. Hundreds of messages of support and donations from members of the public endorsing the action have already been received.

There is wide interest in the Ploughshares message from both the Christian family and wider population - Ploughshares supporters have had many opportunities to talk with others interested in a faith of love in action.

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Update 6.00pm 30 April:

Sam, Peter and Adi have been denied bail and will remain in custody until at least Monday. Supporters are encouraged to attend the next hearing at Blenheim District Court on Monday… and to leave messages on this site. More details to come.

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Statement issued 6.30am 30 April:


They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift sword against nation; and there shall be no more training for war. Isaiah 2:4

Waihopai Spy Base Penetrated

This morning, 30 April 2008, we entered the Waihopai Spy Base near Blenheim.

Our group, including a Dominican Priest, temporarily closed the base by padlocking the gates and proceeded to deflate one of the large domes covering two satellite dishes.

At 6am we cut through three security fences surrounding the domes - these are armed with razor wire, infrared motion sensors and a high voltage electrified fence.

Once inside we used sickles to cut one of the two 30-metre white domes, built a shrine and knelt in prayer to remember the people killed by United States military activity.

We have financed our activities through personal savings, additional part-time employment and a small interest-free loan from one of our supporters.

We are responding to the Bush administration’s admission that intelligence gathering is the most important tool in the so-called War on Terror. This war will have no end until citizens of the world refuse to let it continue. The ECHELON spy network including Waihopai, is an important part of the US government’s global spy network and we have come in the name of the Prince of Peace to close it down.

The base is funded by New Zealand tax payers and located on New Zealand soil which makes New Zealand a target through our association with the UKUSA intelligence cooperation agreement.

Five years ago the Clark government opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq. Yet at the same time the Bush administration was using the National Security Agency’s ECHELON system, of which Waihopai is an integral component, to spy on UN Security Council members so it could more easily swing them in favour of an invasion.

There have been over 100 Ploughshares actions over the last twenty years around the world. Ploughshares direct actions are linked through the common factors of: entry to locations connected to military activity, Christian prayers and most involve some form of property destruction.

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About Waihopai & ECHELON

Green MP Keith Locke quoting the Anti-Bases Campaign claims the base has cost New Zealand up to NZ$500million since 1989. The base intercepts electronic communications throughout the Pacific region including New Zealand and is often staffed by personnel from US agencies.

In 1996 researcher Nicky Hager published an expose on Waihopai and New Zealand’s strong links to the USA-led ECHELON network of six similar spy stations around the world. The United Nations launched an investigation in 2003 to claims that ECHELON had been used by the US government to eavesdrop on UN diplomats and Security Council members. A report published in 2000 showed that ECHELON had also been used by the US to gain commercial advantage for US corporations.

Information gathered at Waihopai is transferred to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in Wellington and fed unseen directly to Washington DC.

Waihopai spy base protesters on hunger strike (+ photos)

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Two of the three protesters who are accused of damaging a protective dome over a satellite dish at Waihopai Valley spy base are on a hunger strike.

Dominican friar Peter Murnane, 67, along with farmer Samuel Land, 24, and organic gardener Adrian Leason, 42, were arrested after allegedly breaking into the spy base early yesterday morning.

A Blenheim police spokesman today told NZPA that since yesterday afternoon Land and Leason were only taking water and Murnane was only eating dry food.

It was not clear if they were planning on continuing the hunger strike until Monday when they were due to reappear at court, the spokesman said.

"They are being treated in a human fashion and we've involved our police medical officer in keeping an eye on the prisoners to make sure they are in good health."

The trio allegedly used sickles to deflate one of the distinctive orbs at the Waihopai satellite communications interception station, near Blenheim.

Calling themselves the Anzac Ploughshares, the group said on their website they wanted to draw attention to the war in Iraq.

They attacked the spy base in reaction to United States President George Bush's statement that intercepting communications was one of the key weapons in the so-called "war on terror".

They have all been charged with intentionally damaging a satellite dish, the property of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), and entering a building with the intention to commit a crime.

Police told Blenheim District Court yesterday they were considering charging the men with sabotage under the Crimes Act, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' jail.

Damage to the Marlborough base was estimated at more than $1 million.

GCSB director Bruce Ferguson said the security breach was "deeply disturbing" and remedial measures would be put in place to ensure it did not happen again.

Two 2m cuts were sufficient to deflate the dome. Then the activists ran around the base of the aerial randomly slicing at other areas, he said.

The domes, made of a rubberised material, acted purely as a "waterproof jacket" to protect the antennae from adverse weather.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has called the incident an act of "senseless vandalism".