Anti-war activist notebook


500 march in Bendigo


According to the Bendigo Advertiser, on January 31 more than 500 people joined a rally against war on Iraq, marching through the town's streets in "scenes reminiscent of the anti-war-in-Vietnam rallies of the early 1970s".

The protest was addressed by Bendigo Mayor Willi Carney, who called for Australian troops to be recalled from the Middle East.

A further demonstration is scheduled for 11am on February 22, starting at the Old Fire Station in View Street. Local group People for Peaceful Solutions are also attempting to organise a contingent from Bendigo to the major anti-war protest in Melbourne on February 15.

Bankstown rally


SYDNEY — "I want to tell you a bit about what war does to people. You cannot think about or plan for anything, for any type of future. All you can do is try to get away from it, to become a refugee if you can, to hide in any way possible. I should know, I grew up among bombs".

This was how Jamal Darwand, an Iranian political refugee and a Socialist Alliance candidate for the Legislative Council in the March 23 NSW election, opened the speakers' platform at a February 8 anti-war rally in the Sydney south-western suburb of Bankstown, where a large section of the Iraqi migrant community live.

Attended by 100 people, the rally was the first anti-war protest action to be held this year in Bankstown. Just prior to an anti-war demonstration in Bankstown held last year, members of the local Arabic community were scared away when police rang to warn them not to attend the rally.

Inner Melbourne anti-war group formed


MELBOURNE — Advertised through just one email posting, the newly convened Anti-War Action Collective's meeting on February 3 was attended by 40 activists.

Activist Jeff Sparrow, who put out the call, told Green Left Weekly that "the intention is to draw in and involve activists in the inner Melbourne area to help build anti-war actions, publicity stunts, as well as the larger events called by the Victorian Peace Network."

The group made plans to organise a large protest outside the BP tower in Melbourne's CBD on February 21.

AWAC meets each Monday night at 6.30pm in the New International Bookshop, meeting room at Trades Hall, corner of Lygon St and Victoria Parade. For more information call Jeff on (03) 9662 3744 or Peter on 0422 075 904.

Karaoke against the war


SYDNEY — Following the enormously successful Leichhardt anti-war rally on February 1, several protesters adjourned to the local hotel for drinks and karaoke.

After one protester, wearing an anti-war T-shirt, sung "When the war is over", many in the small crowd called out their opposition to war, and applauded the protesters.

Another person in the crowd jumped to the microphone and said "My girlfriend and I are in the defence forces, and we don't know why we are going to war — we don't agree with it", to further applause.

The couple proceeded to perform the anti-war song "I was only 19". "I have never seen this place turn into a political discussion area", commented the bemused karaoke host.

DAWG rallies at dog


MELBOURNE — The Darebin Anti-War Group (DAWG) has called two local rallies. The first will be at 6.30pm on February 21, at Fairfield Railway Station, near the large dog statue. The second will be at noon on March 1, at the corner of High and Separation streets, Northcote.

Attendence at the latest DAWG meeting was double the previous, a testament to the leafleting and postering of Preston, Northcote, Fairfield and Thornbury undertaken by the group. DAWG is also organising a March 6 public meeting at Preston Town Hall against the war.

DAWG meets 6.30pm every Tuesday at 478 High Street, Northcote. For more information phone (03) 9486 5472.

Socialist Alliance anti-war campaign


HOBART — The Socialist Alliance has established an anti-war campaign group to organise its members and supporters to build the big anti-war rallies. "We really feel that we need to be pulling out all stops at the present moment to build the movement to stop the war", explained Darren Jiggins of the Socialist Alliance.

"Many Socialist Alliance members are involved in the city's Peace Coalition, which is organising the big rallies", Jiggins told Green Left Weekly. "We don't see our group as in any way competition to that. It's a way to organise better."

Jiggins emphasised that you don't have to be a paid up member of Socialist Alliance to get involved in the group. "We've had two meetings so far and both have been pretty activist oriented. We've made placards and helped organise the last action."

Further meetings will be held on Thursday evenings at the Resistance Centre, 225 Murray St, Hobart. Phone Darren (03) 6234 6397 for further information.

Not in my name


SYDNEY — On February 4, the Parramatta branch of the Socialist Alliance held a showing of the anti-war film Not in My Name. More than 45 members and supporters attended and later discussed plans for building the "Walk Against the War" on February 16.

Roberto Jorquera, a Socialist Alliance candidate in the NSW state election spoke briefly. Socialist Alliance has initiated an Auburn community anti-war rally and march to be held on February 28 at 6pm. For more information phone Roberto on (02) 9687 5134.

From Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2003.

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