Yesterday I was one of the eleven Greenpeace activists arrested for painting the side of a coal ship in Newcastle with the message ‘Australia Pushing Export Coal’. The message is clear, Howard’s agenda in the APEC meeting is to ensure the future of Australian coal exports, and consequences be damned. The Australian Federal Government is determined to undermine Kyoto and continue to pollute the globe for the sake of the fossil fuels industry. Climate change is the greatest problem facing the world today, but Howard continues to place coal exports before the future of our planet.

As a part of our bail conditions we are not allowed within 100 metres of the ‘designated restricted zones’ except for work purposes, we are not allowed to assemble with our co-accused for the purposes of protesting. And we are not allowed to impede APEC in anyway.

These conditions are extremely harsh for a charge of malicious damage, but without the support and help of the police at Newcastle and Warratah stations they would have been a lot worse. APEC taskforce members were responsible for setting the bail conditions and originally they were seeking a condition that the 11 activists be required to report to their local police station every 24 hours until our court appearance on the 11th of September. This and two other conditions were thankfully changed by our bail officers. The conditions that we not go within 200 metres of designated APEC restricted zones or meet with our co-accused for any purpose would have prevented many of us from attending work, so these were adjusted by the officers at the respective stations.

I have been an activist for my whole adult life and I believe peaceful protest and civil disobedience are the cornerstones of free speech and democracy. To see the limiting of these rights because of the APEC meeting is extremely disturbing. Since when is protesting in Australia greeted with such violence and fear? Our forefathers who fought for their rights at the Eureka Stockade, the Rum Rebellion, on the docks and at so many other times in history would be appalled with this security state and fear mongering being engaged in for APEC.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the police at Newcastle and Warratah stations, and the Newcastle Water Police for their and just treatment of myself and my co-accused. And to say to all the representatives attending APEC; please make the sustainability of the planet the most important thing on your agenda.

Posted by Louise on behalf of GP activist