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Issue # 1400      25 February 2009

Peace activist arrested

Jacob Grech and Gareth Smith of OzPeace Pty Ltd registered for the Land Warfare Conference in the Brisbane Convention Centre, October 27-31, 2008. “The Defence Department invited public submissions to the White Paper Community Consultation Program in 2008,” said Gareth.

“We attended this conference to learn more about Australia’s defence priorites and paid $440 each to register online using our correct names and OzPeace affiliation.”

They were duly registered and successfully attended the first two days of the conference. Then on day three they were accosted by the police who said we had to leave but apologetically explained that they did not know the reason for our expulsion.

“We were told by Dr Vinod Puri, chair of the Defence Science Technology Organisation, that because of our background we were not welcome at the Conference and had to leave. Clearly, Defence consultation stops short of inviting peace activists.”

Gareth was arrested after shouting to delegates that he and Jacob, both registered delegates, were being ousted from the conference for no good reason. Gareth was appearing in Court 20 of the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court, as the Guardian went to press, charged with obstructing police and trespass.

He said that it was clear that a major security breach has occurred. “Why wasn’t our background picked up initially and registration refused? We were able to wander freely through the convention centre carrying unsearched backpacks.”    

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