Big CHOGM march launches Occupy Perth

United march on CHOGM, October 28. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

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.

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While I don't doubt for minute that Rwanda's President Paul Kagame is an authoritarian ruler, I wonder on what basis the Rwandans there consider him a "war criminal". I hope this does not hark back to his role in ending the genocide against Tutsis and democratic Hutus. Whatever his latter faults, he should be congratulated for that. There is a growing genocide-denialism related to that phase of Rwandan history. I hope GLW does not buy into it.
Thanks for including the pic of our Rainbow of Hope on your website. for more information about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence fo to
Thank you for understanding and acknowledging that Rwandan President Paul Kagame is an authoritarian. May be to help you understand why he is a war criminal is most recently the United Nations Mapping Report on DRCongo (1997-2003), which implicated the Rwandan military ruler in war crimes in the DRCongo. Also, the revelations by Kagame's former chief of Staff that he was involved in the shooting down of Falcon 50 that carried former Rwandan President Habyarimana, sparking off the Rwandan genocide is another evidence of war crimes. Rwandans deserve a chance to hear his part of the story at the Hague based International Criminal Court.
Any chance that i can get an answer to my query on Kagame?
While I am happy to accept that Kagame (and just about every surrounding regime) has conducted war crimes in the DRC, claims that the RPF responsible for the genocide in Rwanda turns history upside down. I suggest you go GLW's own coverage of events in 1994 (via the search box): Rwanda: a crisis made in France Rwanda formally won independence from Belgium in 1962. Since then the country has been run ... the misery in Rwanda and is now helping the old regime to regroup outside of Rwanda's borders. He ... delegation will be removed from the Security Council and that the new government will represent Rwanda ... Rwanda: rebuilding a 'traumatised' country ... Behind the genocide in Rwanda By Theogene Rudasingwe Rwanda is distinctive among the countries of Africa ... place in Rwanda over May and June must be classified as genocide. It must be noted that the mass ... with the history of Rwanda now believe that it's the Tutsi killing the Hutu or vice-versa. This is not true ... Rwanda: the role of the West By David Dorward The media have reduced the Rwanda atrocities to some inexplicable ... -backed military dictatorship. The recent horror in Rwanda and the prospects for renewed ethnic clashes in Burundi ... . The roots of the problem are ignorance, poverty and land-hunger. Rwanda and Burundi have among the highest ... How the Rwandan tragedy was created By Zanny Begg The death toll in Rwanda has shocked people around the world. Rows ... in the refugee camps is still adding hundreds to the death toll each day. Rwanda, previously one of the most ... . This terrible massacre is only one of many in the history of Rwanda and its neighbour Burundi. Just last October ...