Anti-war campaign gets organised

Issue 
Bonhoeffer Peace Collective. Photo from Globalcollab.org.

The campaign to end Australia’s involvement in the unjust war in Afghanistan has picked up momentum in the last few months in Melbourne.

In December, a number of peace activists decided to organise regular anti-war activities, to tell people the truth about the foreign occupation force and call for Australian troops to be withdrawn.

Since then, three vigils have been held across Melbourne. Activists handed out hundreds of leaflets called “Eight reasons to get out of Afghanistan”.

The most recent vigil, on April 20, was at Flinders Street Station. It focused on ANZAC day, countering the pro-war messages prevalent in the media. About 15 people participated.

The vigil followed a 100-strong Palm Sunday rally on March 28. Three days later, four Christian peace activists, calling themselves the Bonhoffer Peace Collective, entered a military base on Swan Island, off the Victorian coast. They were able to switch off power to at least one sector and a satellite dish.

Swan Island is a highly secretive military installation used by the army’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

A Bonhoffer Peace Collective statement read: “Both Swan Island and the war on Afghanistan are out of sight, out of mind. It’s time to end further suffering of the Afghan people and our soldiers by bringing our troops home.”

Members of the group were charged by police with trespassing on Commonwealth property. Their preliminary hearing was set for May 12.

On April 28, socialist youth organisation Resistance held a public forum at the University of Melbourne, with special guest Ammar Ali Jan, youth secretary of the radical Labour Party Pakistan. The LPP campaigns against US military activity in the North Western Province of Pakistan. More than 30 people attended. The meeting was supported by the Pakistani Students Club.

On April 11, more than 30 people attended a meeting called “Troops out of Afghanistan: Breaking the Silence”, organised by Pax Christi. Speakers included professor Joe Camilleri from the La Trobe University Centre for Dialogue. Discussion focused on getting the “troops out” message onto the political agenda in the federal elections.

There will be an anti-war vigil at 4.30pm May 18 at the GPO on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth streets.

[For more information about upcoming anti-war events, email melb.anti.war@gmail.com ]

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