Anti-nuclear protests commemorate Hiroshima Day

Issue 

By Lisa Macdonald

August 6 marked the 50th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima by the US during World War Two. On August 5 the first round of Hiroshima Day commemoration protests against the French government's recent decision to resume nuclear testing in the Pacific took place around Australia with rallies and marches in Wollongong, Darwin, Newcastle and Hobart. As GLW went to print on August 6, further protests were being held in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, part of an international mobilisation involving commemoration and protest actions in more than 20 countries.

Five thousand Australians participated in the protests on August 5. In Wollongong, 450 people gathered at the Trade Union Centre in Lowden Square. Rally organiser and chairperson Marg Perrott told GLW that the angry crowd, including a large proportion of young people, condemned the French government decision and wanted more serious action by the Australian government to stop the tests.

In Newcastle, Margaret Allen reports that around 600 people rallied in the city mall. Participants included members of the Pacific community from the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

The rally was addressed by high school student and Resistance member Davina Partridge, who spoke of the role of the Australian government in the nuclear cycle, pointing out that 240 tonnes of Australian uranium was exported to France last year.

MLC Meredith Burgmann also addressed the rally, calling for a health survey to be carried out in the Pacific Islands. Long-term peace activist and former parliamentarian Tom Uren called for the outlawing of all nuclear weapons.

The Newcastle rally passed resolutions calling on the Australian government to impose trade sanctions on France, to stop the mining and export of uranium and to ban the entry of nuclear-powered vessels to Australia. It also called on the Australian government to unequivocally support a nuclear free and independent Pacific.

In Darwin, Deb Sorensen reports that 150 people gathered at State Square and marched through Smith Street Mall under the banner "No uranium — No bombs".

The gathering was addressed by Mark Oakwood from ENuFF (Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future) who drew out the links between uranium mined in the NT and the French nuclear tests, and called on people to take action against the next shipment of uranium ore to leave Darwin wharf.

Emma King from the Campaign Against Kangaroo Exercises drew attention to Australia's military role in the region, and Ilana Eldridge of the NT Greens emphasised the need to break with the two-party system in order to get change through parliament.

Tom Flanagan from the Democratic Socialist Party spoke about the need for comprehensive trade bans on France, with the first ban being on the sale of uranium. Resistance spokesperson Tim Stewart highlighted the importance of Tahiti and Kanaky independence from France if nuclear testing in the region is to stopped altogether.

In Hobart, Katrina Dean told GLW that 3500 people rallied under the banner "No More Hiroshimas! Stop Nuclear Tests!". Earlier that week, Liberal Premier Ray Groom had outraged anti-nuclear campaigners by publicly inviting a nuclear-armed US aircraft carrier soon to visit Australia to "dock closer to Hobart".

The rally was addressed by Labor politician Dick Adams, and Democratic Socialist Party speaker Natalie Woodlock, who called on the federal government to start taking "real action" to stop the tests in the Pacific. Bob Brown from the Australian Greens called on the government to respond to French threats to stop importing Australian uranium by refusing to export it to them.
[The next issue of GLW will include reports on the August 6 Hiroshima Day actions.]