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F.A.Q.

Where can I find out more about Waihopai Spy Base and ECHELON?

Read Nicky Hager’s article published 12 May in the Sunday Star Times.

Read Nicky’s book ‘Secret Power‘ published by Craig Potton Publishing in 1996. This is the most comprehensive resource on Waihopai and its role in the ECHELON network.

Anti-Bases Campaign (NZ) have led opposition to Waihopai for 20 years and provide more up to date information on Waihopai, Tangimoana and the GCSB.

What can I do?

Learn more from reliable sources. Ask Helen Clark the right questions. Act on what you learn.

What is Ploughshares?

Ploughshares is a name used by small groups of people who are committed to peace and disarmament and who nonviolently, safely, openly and accountably disable a war machine or system so that it can no longer harm people.

Where does the name come from?

It is taken from the vision of the prophet Isaiah in the Hebrew scriptures that talks about beating swords into ploughshares. (e.g. 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)

Is Ploughshares religious?

Most people involved with Ploushares actions would say they are people of faith and followers of Jesus. But the Ploughshares tradition is ecumenical (non-denominational) and there have been inter-faith Ploughshares actions. Supporters come from a wide range of backgrounds and worldviews. Most Ploughshares actions involve some form of prayer and symbolism.

Is Ploughshares an organisation or movement?

Ploughshares is not an organisation or even an organised movement – it is simply a name invoked by different groups of people who come together for specific purposes and share commitments to non-violent direct action that symbolise the conversion of weapons into resources used to bring life instead of death. Ploughshares activists take inspiration from one another and great people of faith and non-violence from throughout history.

What is the main message Ploughshares are trying to communicate?

The underlying appeal is the universal call to peace, to abolish all war and to find peaceful ways to resolve our conflicts. It recognises the abuse of power that war always is, and the deep immorality of threats to kill.

Where and when did Ploughshares start?

Ploughshares actions started in 1980 in the USA and have taken place in many different countries with weapons as diverse as rifles, warships, missiles, submarines and aircraft being dismantled or damaged. In Britain a successful ’Seeds of Hope’ Ploughshares action was one carried out by 4 women who did £1.5 million worth of damage to a British Aerospace Hawk jet. The plane was prevented from being exported to Indonesia where it may have been used to continue the genocide that was being committed in East Timor. The women were acquitted in a landmark case at Liverpool Crown Court in July 1996 having argued that their act was justified in law as they were preventing British complicity in genocide.

In 2006 four people entered Pine Gap, a spy base similar to Waihopai in Australia. They were arrested, convicted and on appeal acquitted on the basis that their defence was not permitted to include evidence that their action was justified by prevention of a greater crime – that being the involvement of Pine Gap in the US-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

How many New Zealanders are involved with Ploughshares?

Prior to the three ANZAC Waihopai Ploughshares members, the most well-known New Zealander involved in a Ploughshares action is probably Moana Cole. In 1991 Moana was part of the ANZAC Ploughshares that entered Griffith Air Force Base in New Jersey, hammered on a B52 bomber headed for Iraq, poured blood on it, said prayers and started digging up the runway. The four people were arrested, convicted and spent one year in U.S. County jails.

In 1994 Moana was involved in the first Ploughshares action on New Zealand soil since Te Whiti and the people of Parihaka led the way in the 1870s. Moana and Australian Ciaron O’Reilly entered Harewood US Airforce Base in Christchurch on Hiroshima Day where they poured blood, prayed and were subsequently arrested, convicted and fined several hundred dollars.

How many people are involved with Ploughshares in New Zealand?

Since this action hundreds of people have been asking to join the list of Ploughshares supporters. While personal, prayerful, logistical and financial support for Ploughshares is essential and encouraged, the three individuals involved hope that many others are inspired to undertake even more creative and courageous actions in Aotearoa.

What other groups is Ploughshares connected to?

Ploughshares shares many things in common with a range of other traditions, movements and organisations but no formal connections exist as there is nothing for others to really connect with in terms of Ploughshares other than the individuals involved, their families and supporters.

A number of groups have expressed support and endorsement for the Waihopai action – this does not mean that people involved with Ploughshares necessarily support or oppose the aims, statements or actions of those who now wish to be associated with the action.

We are grateful for support offered by other groups, particularly when efforts are made to consult with spokespeople for the Ploughshares accused.

Where can I get more information?

The Resources section of this website has a list of useful web links related to Ploughshares, Waihopai and ECHELON.

A summary of media reports is currently being maintained by Peace Movement Aotearoa.

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Send us an email if you have other questions to: ploughshares08@gmail.com

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