450 protest war in Wollongong, March 21

Issue 

BY MARG PERROTT

WOLLONGONG — On March 21, 450 people turned out for an anti-war rally in the city mall. Speakers included, Michael Organ (Greens MP for Cunningham), Jennie George (Labor MP, Throsby), Terry Fox (ex-Catholic priest and activist for Aboriginal rights), Stewart West (retired federal ALP member for Cunningham and cabinet minister in the Hawke ALP government), Saab Ali (local Arabic activist), Amanda Zivcic (Socialist Alliance activist), Anthony Ashbolt (University of Wollongong lecturer) and Black Duck (member of the Eloura tribe and Sandon Point tent embassy activist).

Because this was an emergency action, the Wollongong Mall Amphitheatre had not been booked and mall security officers refused use of the sound system. This was instantly fixed by two members of the No War organising collective getting the mayor of Wollongong to authorise the use of the sound system.

Jennie George expressed the opinion that the protests had definitely influenced the ALP caucus' stand on the war.

Terry Fox compared the present movement to the movement against the Vietnam War and pointed out the hypocrisy of the US in supporting Saddam Hussein's coup in 1968 with their attempts to assassinate today. Fox labeled the US administration "Neo-fascist zealots" to huge applause.

Stewart West, who was jailed for protesting against the Vietnam War, spoke eloquently about the far-reaching consequences of the war on Iraq. "Where is this all leading to?" he asked. "The message to the smaller states of the world is to arm yourself with weapons of mass destruction before we attack you", he said.

West labeled the USA as the "rogue superstate" and condemned the US/Australia "coalition of the willing" for not enforcing UN resolutions on Palestine, to huge applause.

Saab Ali said: "One of the main reasons used by America for this attack on Iraq is the Iraq's non-compliance with UN resolutions, and yet the US dismissed the UN's validity when it didn't agree with their demands on Palestine.

"They claim to be fighting terrorism, while, in fact, they are committing terrorism, and creating what they call terrorists. When the Israeli war machine kills innocent men, women and children and demolishes homes and kills peace protesters, they claim self-defence, and the US administration blesses and supports their activities.

"What do they expect of the children who witness the slaughter of their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters? Do they expect them to grow up loving life in the shadows of death and destruction? Of course not! Through their urgent actions they create people who are full of hate and seekers of revenge.

"The US is telling Iraqis: 'We are here to free you, but first we have to kill a few thousands of your civilians, and we have to destroy your homes and country so that we can help you to rebuild it! For 12 years, we have starved you and now we'll feed whoever survives and accepts us.' What hypocrisy!

"They who claim to be fighting terrorism are themselves the terrorists.

"They are the ones who should be repossessed of their weapons, as should Iraq and Israel and whoever possesses weapons of mass destruction. They are the ones who should be stopped and brought to their senses before it is too late."

Black Duck welcomed all the people from so many different cultures in Wollongong to Aboriginal land, and pointed out that the situation the Iraqi people face today is the same as that faced by the Aboriginal people in 1788, when muskets faced spears. "Wherever the Union Jack goes, it destroys people and culture", he said. "The Stars and Stripes is just the Union Jack in a different form!"

From Green Left Weekly, March 26, 2003.

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