In September and October 2016, antiwar activists from across Australia gathered near the centre of the country to demand the government close the secretive Pine Gap military base, 50 years after its establishment. Pine Gap is a central part of the US war-fighting machine. It facilitates the operation of nuclear weapons and armed drones, as well as mass surveillance and military communications. It is a prominent node in the global network of militarism created by the United States and sustained by its allies.

The director of WILPF’s disarmament programme, Ray Acheson, participated in direct actions at the gates of Pine Gap with WILPF Australia and ICAN Australia members, and spoke at the Independent and Peace Australia Network National Conference. She brought news of progress towards negotiations of a legally binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons, as well as information about drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia that are launched from Djibouti – which are targeted from Pine Gap. At the same time, activists campaigning for the end of the US military base on Diego Garcia also gathered in Mauritius. WILPF issued a statement of support for their conference and spoke about their efforts at events in Australia, helping to create a sense of solidarity around antimilitarism efforts.

What’s next?

We’ll continue to engage with campaigns against military bases and military spending, focusing on the intersections between nuclear weapons, armed drones, and gender perspectives of foreign military operations. We’ll be coordinating a study on the humanitarian impacts of armed drones in 2017, and releasing a big research report on foreign militaries and sexual violence in Djibouti. We’ll also keep engaging with our WILPF Sections and partners around the world to enhance the local to global and global to local connections that WILPF finds imperative to achieving feminist peace!

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