About 1000 people took part in a march on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth on October 28. The peaceful march and rally involved people from many different movements and causes who united under the banner: “Justice and climate action, not racism and war.
The rally included big and vibrant contingents of Zimbabwean democracy activists, Rwandans protesting against the war criminal President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Tamils protesting against the visit of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa and Malaysians supporting the Bersih 2.0 movement for democracy in that country.
To much applause, more than 100 people joined the rally on their final leg of a 1200-kilometre, 10-week long protest walk from Wiluna to Perth against uranium mining in the state. Kado Muir from WA Nuclear Free Alliance spoke to the rally.
Other speakers included Noongar elder Uncle Ben Taylor, Kimberley traditional owner and campaigner against the proposed gas hub at James Price Point Anne Poelina, Malaysian democracy campaigner Dr Wong Chin Huat, Reclaim the Night spokesperson Ginny Brown, long-time peace campaigner Jo Vallentine, Deaths in Custody Watch Committee spokesperson Marianne Mackay, homeless rights campaigner Matt Curry and the Refugee Rights Action Network’s Victoria Martin-Iverson.
The peaceful protest took place despite the state Liberal government’s attempts to intimidate protesters, which included raids on the homes of protest organisers in the week before CHOGM. The government also added several protesters to an “excluded persons” list, which prohibited them from entering the CHOGM “security zone”.
On the march, Aboriginal activist Marianne Mackay and excluded person Seamus Doherty approached police lines at the corner of Perth’s Barrack and Hay streets, trying to pass into the CHOGM security area. Mackay said it was sovereign Aboriginal land and police had no right to exclude them.
At the corner of William and Hay streets, the march held a sit down protest about being excluded from the security areas.
The march on CHOGM also kicked off the Perth version of the Occupy Together movement, which has spread to more than 2000 cities globally since activists began to Occupy Wall Street in September.
Government authorities had warned Occupy Perth that they would not be allowed to camp in Forrest Place, in the Perth CBD. But the authorities backed down, and about 80 people camped out overnight.
The next morning, the first Occupy Perth general assembly was held. The assembly debated whether to stay at Forrest Place indefinitely, but the decision has been deferred to another assembly.
Occupy Perth agreed to support a refugee rights protest that took place that afternoon. The assembly also voted to organise another rally in the CBD on Saturday, November 5.
[For more details visit http://occupyperth.org/ ]