A new coalition of Pacific Peace groups, which has been convened by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) and World Beyond War New Zealand, is calling for cancellation of the “RIMPAC’ military exercises event to be attended by up to 26 countries in Hawaiian waters this August.
The exercise has already been reduced from three months down to just two weeks duration because of fears around COVID-19. But the Pacific Peace Network (PPN) says it should be cancelled altogether. Two countries, Israel and Chile have already pulled out.
Correspondence from the Department of Defence on the 21st May stated that “a final decision about the nature of the ADF’s participation in RIMPAC has yet to be taken as Defence adjusts a range of plans and commitments, to implement the Whole of Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
IPAN has repeatedly called for a decision to be made by the Defence Minister and recommended that Australia not participate in RIMPAC.
“Indigenous people in Hawaii are struggling for some degree of self-determination in the face of nuclearisation, militarisation and economic exploitation of the Pacific. We believe the military exercise RIMPAC is an ugly expression of this multi-level colonisation –physical, cultural, spiritual, economic, nuclear, military – past and present”, says Pacific Peace Network co-convenor and IPAN Chairperson Annette Brownlie.
As part on the ongoing activity, a webinar was held last Saturday (202 June 2020) where speakers from spoke about the impact in their countries.
This included Kawena Kapahua is a Native Hawaiian activist, talking about Hawaiian and the indigenous battle for autonomy, the Cancel Rimpac Coalition, and push for demilitarisation.
Retired US Army colonel and a former US diplomat, Ann Wright, spoke about her opposition to the war on Iraq and her subsequent resignation, her work with peace groups around the world,
Maria Hernandez is a daughter of Guåhan and environmental and cultural rights advocate in the Marianas addressed the work against the desecration and militarisation of indigenous lands,
Virginia “Virgie” Suarez is currently a Co-Convenor of SCRAP VFA! Movement (broad campaign network of coalitions, organizations and individuals united in the pursuit of genuine sovereignty.) in the Philippines. She is also the Secretary General of the political organization KILUSAN (Movement for National Democracy).
Valerie Mors, a member of Peace Action Wellington, addressed the impact of the war on terrorism in everyday NZ life.
In Australia, Margaret Beavis, of the Medical Association for Prevention of War, spoke about loss of life and environmental devastation caused by warfare. Her interests include the creeping militarisation of Australia, nuclear issues, climate change.