Anti-war activist notebook 2


Clare Valley marches against war


CLARE, South Australia — On February 8, about 150 concerned citizens marched down the main street of this town, protesting against the possibility of a war on Iraq. Singing and chanting, the marchers arrived at Ennis Park to hear one of the march organisers, John Drum, explain that the United States has been responsible for bombing more than 20 countries since the end of World War II.

Motions passed by acclamation called for the removal of Australian troops from the Gulf, the government to take account of the clear will of the Australian people and expressed resentment that war is being used as a method of resolving disputes.

The next meeting of the Clare organising committee is at 7pm on February 13 at Carer's Link, Old North Road where the anti-war film Not in Our Name will be shown. If war breaks out a vigil will be held at Ennis Park at sunset. For more information, phone (08) 8842 3139.

Oxford Street protests against war


SYDNEY — There is nothing extraordinary about Oxford Street, Newtown. It's a typical inner-west narrow road, with 19th century houses and a mixture of ages and ethnic backgrounds. But on February 2, Oxford Street decided to do something about the issue which is worrying all Australians — the looming war in Iraq.

It was hardly mass action. About 30 residents met at the little park at the end of the 200-metre-long street to talk about the crisis and to do something about it, if only in a small way.

Some really big decisions were made (watch out John Howard and Simon Crean!). A figure of a white dove was raised proudly across the street between two houses — hanging by black dressmaker's elastic.

And those in the street who could find some purple ribbon tied it to their front fences to show their support for the peace process and their opposition to war. They plan to march together on February 16 with thousands of others who are planning to meet for a rally at the northern end of Hyde Park in the city.

Toowomba protests war


TOOWOOMBA — A small group from Goondiwindi and Toowoomba picketed the visit of US ambassador Tom Schieffer to Goondiwindi on the Queensland/NSW border on January 26.

Schieffer, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, also visited his home state's namesake on the NSW border. Most of the town's 900 people turned out to hear him speak, but expressed a mixed response to the question of Australian troop deployment to the Gulf.

On January 27, about 400 people attended an anti-war rally in Toowoomba, which one long-time peace activist observed was the largest turnout for a peace rally in Toowoomba, that he could remember, since the campaign against the Vietnam War.

Speakers at the rally included Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett, Aboriginal activist Steven Hagan, the ALP's Chris Meibusch, the Greens' Libby Connors, One Nation's David Hoy, Shahjahan Khan of the Toowoomba Islamic Society, Mark Copland from the Social Justice Commission-Catholic Church and Ira Williams of the Bahai faith community.

The next antiwar mobilisation in Toowoomba will be at 11.30am on February 14.

QPSU opposes war


CAIRNS — In the first week of February, my branch of the Queensland Public Sector Union voted in favour of a strong anti-war motion. The branch meeting resolved to actively oppose war on Iraq and to carry through six specific proposals, including endorsing, publicising and organising contingents to local anti-war actions.

A worker from a public mental health service said the current war drive was causing many more incidences of anxiety, aggression and mental dysfunction in the community, increasing the workload and dangers for mental health staff.

A union member from the environmental protection authority spoke passionately in favour of the motion and later came up to commend me for proposing it. She said that she'd been circulating the draft motion amongst her work colleagues and had been getting a great response. Some non-union members in her workplace were now convinced to join because of the stance the union branch is taking against the war. The newly formed Queensland "Unionists Against the War" email network was also enthusiastically received.

One wheel, one world


HOBART — Three unicyclists have toured Tasmania to promote the message of peace in local communities. Joel Penson from the World Peace Society, Scott Cooper from California and Bronson Silva from San Francisco cycled nearly 1400 kms in 23 days, finishing on February 3, to inspire others to act for peace.

The unicyclists met local peace activists and held public forums in the towns and cities that they pass through. More information is available at <>.

From Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2003.

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