BY ALEX BAINBRIDGE
HOBART — On March 6, Tasmanian police broke up the Weld River community picket. The picket was established on February 4 to save more than 3000 hectares of unlogged, old growth forest, immediately adjacent to a World Heritage listed area. The blockade had halted work on a forestry road and bridge into the valley to be used for clearfelling the area.
In late February, logging equipment elsewhere in Tasmania was badly vandalised. On March 1, undeterred by a complete lack of evidence, deputy premier Paul Lennon blamed conservationists for the vandalism. All environment groups have denied responsibility for the damage.
Just five days later, police and forestry staff created an exclusion zone around the blockade site and then proceeded to break the blockade, arresting three people.
Police reportedly justified their breaking of the blockade by saying that "the removal of the machinery was necessary because of fears that similar acts to that recently perpetrated on other machinery ... might occur."
Activists are undaunted, holding a community BBQ at the blockade site on March 9. Similar gatherings have attracted up to 80 people in recent weeks.
From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.
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