WTR in Australia
Aug 22, 2011 06:14 PDT
I got a forwarded email about something called The People's Charter for
Nonviolence and noticed that one of the instigators is Robert Burrowes, an
Australian who had done some creative actions related to his war tax
resistance like attempting to pay "in kind" with a trailer-load of
Aboriginal "land" to return to its owners. (A 1988 entry on our history
pages, http://www.nwtrcc.org/history/history1980.php). I sent a note to him
and got this interesting reply. The charter letter with web link is below
It was lovely to hear from you! I always feel great fondness for my fellow
war tax resisters; for many years I subscribed to your newsletter to help
keep me informed of events in the USA. I continue to resist but, these days,
partly because of my other activities, I do so by keeping my income below
the tax threshold. I spent 14 years (December 1996-December 2010) living in
seclusion with my wife, Anita McKone: the document 'Why Violence?' (web
address below) summarises the main learning from this period.
War tax resistance in Australia is difficult not only because few people
have the required level of commitment but also because of the government's
high level of control over tax payments (employers are required to deduct
tax from income before the employee gets it and this is done in such a way
that most emplyoyees get a refund after submitting their annual tax return).
Nevertheless, there has been the occasional resister. Dave Keenan is another
significant resister: he finally quit in about 2000 when the Australian
Taxation Office (ATO) was about to sell his wife's house! But he stuck for
ten or more years. Another person, Quaker David Johnson, has been doing some
WTR in recent years.
While I have made it clear that I will never pay (past resisted war taxes,
penalties etc. or future taxes of any kind), the AT0 has already used most
of its powers against me: seizing my bank account (1984), garnisheeing wages
(twice), bankruptcy (1991, effectively for life because I will not
cooperate), a contempt of court conviction for refusing to cooperate with
the bankruptcy trustee (1992) and seizure of my passport (1993). So, these
days, I focus my activities in other ways that, I hope, maximise my
(nonviolent) impact. 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'
is one of these.
Anita, Anahata and I are absolutely delighted and very appreciative of your
willingness to raise awareness of 'The People's Charter', particularly among
such a committed audience as war tax resisters.
I appreciate your friend's effort in telling you about 'The People's
Charter'. Given that I do not know what information you got, I will include
below a copy of our 'standard' letter in case it is of any use to you (for
information or circulation).
Anyway, many thanks again for getting in touch. Please convey my love and
support for all of my fellow war tax resisters in the USA. Given what you
lot are up against, I am always inspired by US activists.
Re: 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'
We are going to launch 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'
in Melbourne, Australia on 11 November 2011 in a major public signing event.
The internet address of 'The People's Charter' is
The date 11 November 2011 marks the (93rd) anniversary of the signing of the
Armistice for The Great War (World War 1)in 1918.
The idea behind this proposal is to get people to sign up to a new sense of
being involved in a shared worldwide nonviolent movement of 'ordinary'
people committed to ending violence in all of its forms.
We would like to make this launch a worldwide event with as many people
participating in as many locations as possible. So far, organisations in
seven countries have indicated their willingness to organise launch events.
Would you or someone you know be willing to organise a local event in your
city, town or community as part of the worldwide launch?
We have included a draft advertisement that you might find suitable in 'The
People's Charter' website (above) and we will list your event details on the
website if you decide to become involved.
We are sending a copy of this email to all nonviolence organisations listed
in the recently revised and updated Global Nonviolence Network
We are also sending a copy of this email to other individuals and
organisations from the peace, environment and social justice movements.
In relation to the launch event itself, our idea for Melbourne is to ask
about ten ordinary people to speak who are selected so that there is at
least one indigenous person; at least one Buddhist, one Christian, one
Hindu, one Jew, one Muslim...; at least one African, one Asian, one Anglo,
one Central/South American ...; at least one person who is a worker and one
who is a businessperson; at least one gay/lesbian; at least one person with
a disability; so that half are men and half are women; and so that one
person is a teenager, one person is in their 20s, one in their 30s and so
The idea is to ask each of these ten or so people to speak for about two
minutes about why they are going to sign the Charter and what they are going
to do differently to help end violence from then on, and to then sign 'The
People's Charter' in front of the audience.
Following this, anyone else in the audience who wants to sign publicly will
be invited to come up onto the stage and do so as well: in theory this could
be boring and time-consuming but the idea is to make a deeply meaningful
ceremony out of it, by having Anita and others sing appropriate songs while
people come forward to sign. The signings could be a bit like a religious
ceremony, taking time but in a deeply spiritual sense: the idea is to evoke
a sense of ordinary people signing 'The Great Armistice on Violence'. If the
occasion is invested with meaning and ceremony, people will hopefully go
away committed to doing something. And they will have come knowing clearly
what the occasion is about.
Our hope is that people will not be 'hyped' into signing: it would be nice
to get deeply considered signatures from people who go away committed to
To get people to attend, one idea is to ask leading activists and key
religious and academic figures in our community to help advertise the event
but to also accept responsibility for inviting 10 or more people in their
'immediate circle' to attend on the basis that this is an important
worldwide event for the peace, environment and social justice movements.
Of course, local organisers are very welcome to organise whatever feels
appropriate to them.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Love; Robert Burrowes, Anita McKone and Anahata Giri
Anita McKone and Robert J. Burrowes firstname.lastname@example.org Anahata Giri
P.O. Box 325
http://anitamckone.wordpress.com (songs of nonviolence)