Two public forums on Pine Gap and the US-Australia Alliance were held in Lidcombe on 11 and 25 September. Both were organised by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) and the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC).
The first of these forums featured three speakers: James O’Neill who discussed the US-China conflict in the South China Sea, Dr Emily Howie who reviewed the US global assassination campaign using drones and Dr Vincent Scappatura who addressed the perils of the US-Australia Alliance. A copy of James O’Neill’s paper can be read here.
The second forum featured two international activists: Prof Kosuzu Abe from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa and Dr Lisa Natividad from the University of Guam. Both have come to Australia to address the third IPAN conference being held in Alice Springs on 1 October.
Prof Abe has been a prominent participant in the protest movement against US military bases in Okinawa which is host to more than half the 47,000 US troops in Japan. Public anger has been mounting in recent months at the renewed attempt by authorities to construct six U.S. helipads in the village of Higashi in Okinawa. The authorities have made this a key condition for the partial return to Japan of a large parcel of land being used by U.S. forces. Prof Abe is a self-professed “sit-inner” against this project being completed.
Dr Natividad is a native Chamoru whose research interests include the impact of colonisation and militarisation in Guam. She is the President of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and has publicised the struggle against militarisation at the United Nations and in many countries around the world.
This struggle is likely to intensify, however, with the recent announcement that 5,000 Marines would relocate from Okinawa to a proposed Marine Corps base in Guam – 2,500 Marines in 2021 and the remaining 2,500 by 2026. The original plan received the green light in 2010 but was stopped as a result of local resistance in Guam to an enhanced US military presence.
1. Refer also to Jon Letman’s article ‘Proposed US military buildup on Guam angers locals who liken it to colonization’, The Guardian, Aug 1, 2016