OUR GRAN NUKE TRIAL
By LUIS FELIU
TWEED Valley great grandmother June Norman is woman prepared to stand by her beliefs - even if it means getting arrested. In June, she put those beliefs on the line when she joined a group at a military base near Rockhampton protesting against war and the use of depleted uranium in weapons.
Mrs Norman, 65, of Nunderi near Murwillumbah, was charged with several others with trespassing on Commonwealth property at Shoalwater Bay where US-Australian military exercises were being staged.
She will face court in Rockhampton next Wednesday when she will plead not guilty "for a higher cause".
The retired welfare worker is a devout Christian who spent several months in war-ravaged East Timor earlier this year teaching English and permaculture for a Catholic Church-backed group. p Continued, Page 3n Continued from page 1.
That experience, plus a documentary on the effects of depleted uranium by award-winning filmmaker David Bradbury of Brunswick Heads, prompted to join the protest.
"When I got home I just couldn't bury my head in the sand and pretend nothing has happened," she said.
"The East Timorese people have been traumatised and devastated and spent the past five years picking up the pieces after the war.
"I knew nothing of depleted uranium beforehand but it is just horrendous. Babies are born with huge deformities." Munitions and weapons tipped with depleted uranium have been used by US and Allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and are believed to have caused widespread radiation sickness and deaths among military and civilian populations as well as deformities in new-born babies.
Mrs Norman decided to form the Northern Rivers Nuclear Free Alliance which is sponsoring the Bradbury documentary Blowin in the wind at Murwillumbah's Regent Cinema on December 5 at 6.30pm.
"When I heard about the protest against the US military coming here and playing war games I decided to join them.
"About 150 protesters from Sydney and Brisbane went up in two buses and cars.
"A group of us managed to get inside the perimeter of the war games area where we laid out white cardboard 'coffins' with the Muslim crescent and Christian cross and sheets of paper with names of the war dead in Iraq - both Iraqi and US military.
"Then police arrived and arrested six of us ... we were not manhandled and police respected us .. I've never really done anything like this before."
Mrs Norman said she and the others arrested would be representing themselves in court "because we need to explain why we're doing it".
"I needed to do what I could to bring awareness of this because the only way it's going to be changed or dealt with is if enough ordinary people like myself know about it," she said.