Six “Peace Pilgrims”, whose ages span 19 to 73, travelled through the desert together last night and are due to arrive on a crest inside military land at dawn and there sing a mournful lament about the human cost of war.

Margaret Pestorius with her viola. Image: Adam Ginger
Longtime Catholic, social worker and peace advocate Margaret Pestorius says ‘I am taking my viola to Pine Gap to play a song of lament for the dead of war. The viola is the perfect instrument for lamentation because it sings in the range of the human voice. I’ll play a lament with a young musician, guitarist Franz Dowling, who holds hope for the future.’

‘We will go close so we can see the US spy base which is involved with preparing and waging war. It’s a central part of the US global surveillance system, which is not only used to spy on Australian and US citizens alike, but is implicated in drone attacks in the Middle East, in places where Australia is not supposed to be at war.’
‘We hope people around Australia will see what we’re doing and begin to ask questions about Pine Gap, and more broadly the nature of our alliance with the US.’
Franz Dowling says ‘My love for music and life drives me to action, directing the power that music has over human emotion towards Pine Gap. We cry out in sadness for the crimes that have been committed and we beg for change. One day, surely, we may have peace. I’ve been inspired towards peace by the example of my Dad who is once again walking into Pine Gap.”


Franz Dowling. Image: Adam Ginger
Those participating in today’s lament also stand in solidarity with a protest at the Pentagon in the United States, organised by A World Without War, who are asking the US government to begin closing its offshore bases.
Pestorius says ‘We are not the only ones who have been trying to raise these concerns. Malcolm Fraser wrote a book not long before his death called Dangerous Allies, which argues that the time when it was in our strategic interest to have a strong military relationship with the US is over, and now we would be better off with a more independent foreign policy.’
‘We will also be amplifying recent calls from other groups, such as the Greens and Australians for War Powers Reform, that the decision to go to war must be debated in the Parliament like every other important decision.’

‘If this were the case in 2003, we would have prevented our troops joining the ongoing mess that is the Iraq Invasion.’
On Saturday the 1st of October, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) will hold its national conference in Alice Springs. Speakers will include academics from Guam and Japan, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, and Melbourne University’s Professor Richard Tanter, one of Australia’s leading experts on US/joint military facilities in Australia.

Editor’s Notes:

Info & Events:
Twitter: @ClosePineGap #ClosePineGap
Contacts :     Bec Horridge  0406375401
Professor Richard Tanter: 0407 824 336
A recent interview with quotes from Richard Tanter
Photos and Video will be available in this Google Drive
Details of All Peace Pilgrims:

Graeme Dunstan, 72, Peace Activist,
Jim Dowling, 61, Catholic Worker and father from Brisbane
Margaret Pestorius, 51, Social Worker, Gimuy (Cairns)
Andrew Paine, 30,Disability worker, Brisbane Catholic worker
Tim Webb, 22, Student, Aotearoa New Zealand
Franz Dowling, 19, Musician, Student, Catholic Worker, Brisbane