Anti-war activist notebook

Issue 

University shuts down anti-war stalls

BY SAM KING

BRISBANE — Queensland University of Technology (QUT) used police to shut down an "unauthorised" anti-war campaigning stall on its Kelvin Grove campus on February 19. Police threatened activists with arrest for trespass. Activists were publicising the March 5 student strike against war when they were moved on.

This followed an incident the previous day in which university staff and security guards intimidated anti-war activists on QUT's Caseldine campus for more than an hour before they decided to pack up.

Anti-war activist and Resistance member Ewan Saunders told Green Left Weekly: "They say we weren't thrown off because we are against the war, but security was asked us what type of stall it was and read out the titles of our pamphlets [to their superiors] over their walkie talkie before the police arrived."

Students oppose war

BRISBANE — Clubs and Societies Fair Day on the University of Queensland on February 26 reflected the high level of student opposition to a war against Iraq. Five anti-war stalls signed up large numbers of students. Resistance alone recruited 52 students to its UQ club.

The anti-war collective had planned to protest against the defence forces' recruitment tent, however it failed to show up. The anti-war protesters instead targeted the Liberal Party's stall.

'The people can stop their war!'

BY AMANDA ZIVCIC

WOLLONGONG — On February 22, a public meeting was held to discuss the importance of the anti-war movement. Speakers included the Socialist Alliance's Dr Margaret Perrott, the Greens' Michael Sergeant and Grant Coleman from the socialist youth organisation Resistance.

Perrott said that the US-led war on Iraq, backed by the Australian government, was being driven by Washington's desire to control the world's key energy reserves and maintain its political and military domination of the world. "I believe that we can win", Perrott said. "PM John Howard has given a reason for people to unite, who perhaps normally wouldn't, around a key issue: bring the troops home."

Sergeant agreed the war was "a grab for oil".

Support for anti-war protesters

SYDNEY — A demonstration was held on February 28, outside the Downing Centre courts, in support of two anti-war protesters, Dean Jefferys and Marlene Obeid, who were appearing in court in relation to charges laid after they displayed a giant anti-war banner on the Opera House on January 31.

Obeid said that the activists would plead not guilty to the charges. "It is Howard, Bush and Blair who ought to be put on trial for constantly defying and breaking international law."

Jefferys added: "It's time for John Howard to listen to the wishes of the Australian people and not involve Australia in a conflict we have no reason to be in."

Footscray rally against Iraq war

BY TONY ILTIS

MELBOURNE — Thirty people protested on February 22 in Footscray against a US-led war on Iraq and the Australian government's "anti-terrorism" hysteria. Socialist Alliance candidate for the Maribyrnong local council Justine Kamprad told the crowd that unsafe and polluting industries in the area posed a much greater threat to the community than the invented threats of "Muslim terrorism" and weapons of mass destruction. She led rally participants in depositing the government's "terrorism information kits" in a box marked "Return to Sender".

The rally also heard from Surma Hamid of the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq, who rejected the claim that US imperialism would liberate the Iraqi people from the dictatorship of the Baath Party. Resistance member Lincoln Hancock, who is also running for the Socialist Alliance in the council election, and refugees' rights activist and Greens' candidate Sylvie Leber also spoke.

Darebin peace forum

DAREBIN, Victoria — Sixty people attended an anti-war forum here on February 25 called by the Darebin Ethnic Communities Council, the North-East Migrant Resource Centre and Darebin Community Health. It followed the Darebin Anti-War Group's (DAWG) 80-strong February 21 rally.

Maureen Postma from the Victorian Council of Churches called on participants to protest "until our troops are all home". Dr Khairy Majeed, an Iraqi citizen, noted that the Iraqi people "don't trust the United States, which backed Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980s while he committed some of his worst atrocities".

John Nicolau from the Federation of Ethnic Senior Citizens Club and Patrick McCleish from DAWG also spoke. A public forum is being organised by DAWG for March 6 at the Preston Town Hall. A local rally is also being arranged for March 15 at the Northcote Town Hall. Phone (03) 9486 5472 for more information.

Socialist candidates endorse student strike

BY LINDA WALDRON

MELBOURNE — The Socialist Alliance candidates standing in the Maribyrnong and Brimbank council elections will participate in the March 5 student strike against the war and the International Women's Day anti-war march and rally, they announced on February 28.

Lincoln Hancock, the 21-year-old candidate for Sheoak ward in Maribyrnong, is one of the strike organisers. Hancock will join fellow candidates, Justine Kamprad and Maurice Sibelle, when they march against war on International Women's Day.

Kamprad told Green Left Weekly that "women and children suffer most from the catastrophes inflicted by capitalism. War is the greatest of these. Everyone needs to come out on IWD to show their support for real women's liberation — which is a future free of war, rape, poverty, illness, deprivation and persecution".

Penrith demands peace

BY TED LORD

SYDNEY — About 60 people attended a lunchtime rally in Penrith organised by the Nepean Greens and the Western Sydney Peace Group on February 28. The rally heard speeches from Lesley Edwards, the Greens candidate for the state seat of Penrith, Sister Susan Connelly, Gail Lord from the Socialist Alliance and Tim Vollmer from the Western Sydney Peace Group. Local residents also took to the microphone to vent their anger at the war policies of the Australian and US governments.

Local youth "shook" the office of the local Liberal federal MP, Jackie Kelly, by shouting anti-war messages and waving their anti-war placards at the staff inside.

A candlelight vigil will be held outside Kelly's office from 5pm on the day the war starts. The Western Sydney Peace Group will show the film Not in My Name at its next meeting. For details, phone Tim on 0401 769 880 or Sarah on 0409 155 314.

Suburban anti-war group forms

BY BARRY HEALY

PERTH — Anti-war action has spread to the leafy Perth suburb of Darlington, which is better known for its gum trees and middle-class passivity. Parents at the local Montessori school have started a branch of the NOWAR Alliance.

At the first meeting, it was decided to letterbox a leaflet for the March 22 anti-war demonstration in Perth, and to deliver white peace ribbons to each house with an explanatory note.

A similar white ribbon campaign in Beaconsfield has resulted in a mass of ribbons attached to letterboxes, signifying each household is anti-war.

Plans were also made for a public meeting in Darlington Hall, featuring an Iraqi speaker and a screening of the British anti-war video Not in My Name. Darlington NOWAR meets each Sunday evening. Contact Barry or Annolies on 9299 6453 for details.

Northern Tasmanian youth organise to stop war

BY KAMALA EMANUEL

LAUNCESTON — The May 5 "books not bombs" student strike is gathering steam here, with students from University of Tasmania (UTas), Launceston College and Prospect High pledging to build contingents to the 1pm rally in Civic Square.

Prospect High School principals have sent letters to parents of students wishing to attend the strike, informing them that the students will need permission to attend, but not discouraging participation.

The Students Association of the Newnham campus of UTas is planning to provide a bus to ferry students into the city for the rally, and an anti-war campaign group is being set up on the campus. Launceston College students are planning to rally at Royal Park (over the road from the college) before marching into the city. Students from Newstead College and other schools have also expressed interest in participating.

Meanwhile, students at Hellyer College in Burnie will gather at 3pm in the cafeteria, before deciding whether to march to link up with students from the university campus there.

Honk for peace

LAUNCESTON - Honk for peace roadside peace vigils will be held every Friday, 5pm, outside the museum, Wellington Street (near TAFE). They are being organised by No War on Iraq.

'It's deadly weapons or a rubber chicken'

CANBERRA — After abusing the 200 anti-war protesters gathered at the Australian National University (ANU) as "leftie rabble", members of the Chaser comedy team, responsible for ABC TV's satirical CNNNN, attempted to convince a sceptical crowd of the correctness of the US-led war drive. The key to their pro-war argument was a photo they produced which, they claimed, clearly showed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But they did concede that it could also show a rubber chicken.

The performance was part of a "Fight plaque not Iraq" rally organised by the ANU Students Association as part of Orientation Week. Hundreds of students braved the blistering sun to hear speeches condemning the US war drive and urging students to organise against it, before taking anger at Prime Minister John Howard's war-mongering out by attacking a giant "John Howard pinata" with a cricket bat.

Speaking on behalf of the ANU Students Against War group, Jo Hunt provided a graphic account of the US war's likely effects on Iraqi civilians. Hunt urged students to take part in the March 5 international student strike.

ANU students will gather at 12.15pm on March 5 in Union Court and march to the 1pm rally in Civic. Phone Danny on 0422 132 988 or Stuart on 6247 2424.

From Green Left Weekly, March 5, 2003.
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