Anti-war activists blockade Raytheon Facility in Alice Springs


(Photo Source: Green Left Weekly)For the past 50 years, the Pine Gap military spy base in Australia’s remote Northern Territory has been facilitating the United States’ aggressive collection of internet and satellite data. The base, near the town of Alice Springs on what is traditionally Arrernte land, is supposedly a joint U.S.-Australian defense facility, but very little of it is “joint” or related to “defense.”

Over the years, Pine Gap has made critical contributions to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in terms of targeted U.S. drone assassinations. The facility controls U.S. spy satellites passing over China, Russia and the Middle East, all strategically important for the United States. Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden show Pine Gap is also used in the Prism surveillance program conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The Australian government has no authority to enter the base, and activists there have been fighting for its closure. The following is an account of the anti-war efforts against the military camp at Pine Gap originally published at Green Left Weekly.

Early on Sept. 29, peace activists blockaded the Raytheon facility in Alice Springs. Four activists locked onto the gates of the facility, preventing employees from entering. This action is one in a series of protests against the military-industrial complex that supplies the joint U.S.-Australian military base at Pine Gap.

Raytheon, the private contractor behind much of Pine Gap’s work, trades in and profits from the death and destruction of war. It produces a range of tools of war from technical equipment, such as satellite navigation, laser guidance, high-definition radars and electronic warfare, through to UN-prohibited cluster bombs.

Its website says it produces technologies that “allow customers to carry out discriminating strikes on bona fide targets and defend against incoming attacks with unprecedented effectiveness.”

Jacob Grech, one of the protesters locked onto the gate, said, “The fact that huge profit-making corporations are directly involved in the operation of Pine Gap is often overlooked. We are here to bring awareness to the people so that they may act to end war together.”

Denis Doherty of the Anti-Bases Campaign said, “We mean to upset the smugness that permeates this horrendous corporation, whose self-advertising slogan is, laughingly, ‘keeping the world safe.’ It means to do this by massive weaponized force.”

Nick Deane from the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network said, “In regard to Pine Gap alone, Raytheon has much to answer for, creating the software to spy on civilians, to direct drones and to target areas of the world Australia is not at war with, such as Yemen and Somalia.”

“It is time to shine a light on this massive corporate giant, which leeches resources away from much-needed services such as health and education to weaponry, which only serves to increase violence and distress. Raytheon is not a good corporate citizen but simply a privatized conglomerate to wage war for the top 0.1 percent of U.S. society.”

Protester Gaye Demanuele said that acts of civil disobedience by the people are now imperative. “Our governments have failed us in the name of profit and power. It is now up to us to act to end senseless wars.”

Close Pine Gap protesters demand the closure of the Pine Gap base and the return of the land to the traditional custodians of the land, the Arrernte people.

Written by Kerry Smith Introduction by Gavin Huang (Editor, World Current Report)