Flag-burning kits for sale
Emma Clancy & Amanda Zivcic
The socialist youth group Resistance will be selling "Australian flag-burning kits" to university students during campus orientation weeks, as part of its campaign to support freedom of expression.
The kit is inspired by Resistance member Azlan McLennan's recent artwork, "Proudly un-Australian", which was removed from a Footscray gallery in a police raid that was condemned by artists and civil rights groups as blatant political censorship.
The February 18 Melbourne Herald-Sun newspaper, reporting on Resistance's flag-burning kits, quoted the national president of the RSL, Major General Bill Crews, who "finds the plan highly offensive. He says the Australian flag shouldn't be a vehicle for protest and burning it should be a criminal offence."
Melbourne Resistance organiser Brianna Pike told Green Left Weekly, "The debate in the media about the burning of the flag seeks to vilify those who use their right to freedom of speech, expression and association. The push to criminalise the burning of the flag is part of the general attack on our right to political dissent and Resistance will not be silenced by the so-called anti-terror laws that try to outlaw dissent and anti-war activities."
The flag-burning kit contains an Australian flag, a lighter and a fire-lighting cube, as well as information about the Howard government's racist policies towards Indigenous Australians and refugees, and its participation in the US-led war on Iraq.
McLennan, who designed the artwork for the kits, told GLW, "Resistance wants to encourage young people to exercise their democratic right to speak out against government policy". Resistance national coordinator Stuart Munckton added, "The flag represents the 'values' of nationalism, racism and conservatism. Well, we reject those values entirely, and if that's what the flag represents then fuck the flag.
"We stand for something different — for peace, internationalism and progress. Young people burning the flag will show the government that we reject their entire view of what society should be like."
Pike told GLW, "In the coming years we are going to need to fight just to maintain our basic democratic rights. We mustn't shut ourselves into a militarised state of fear; we should be demanding that our government engage with the world in ways that increase equality and decrease starvation, poverty and political oppression."
For more information, or to obtain a flag-burning kit, call Brianna Pike on (03) 9639 8622 or 0439 694 505.
From Green Left Weekly, February 22, 2006.
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