BY RAY FULCHER
MELBOURNE — Shortly after the bombing of Iraq began people started to gather at the State Library to protest against the start of the war. The protesters, organised by the Victorian Peace Network, heard from a range of speakers before setting off at 6.30pm for the army's Victoria Barracks on St Kilda Road. As it marched down Swanston Street, the rally doubled in size to 50,000.
The mood of the protesters was one of quiet anger and determination. People were clear that there was no justification for this war and the anger at the government for ignoring the Australian people was palpable. When one speaker said that our leaders had taken us into an immoral and illegal war, a protester cried out "What bloody leaders?", which drew a chorus of support from the crowd.
At Victoria Barracks, Vietnam Veterans Against the War spokesperson Alex Tikchener argued that "2000 young Australians have been sent to defend Australian interests on the other side of the world in Iraq. Some will return. Some in bodybags and some as dysfunctional members of society."
Nick McLennan of the VPN urged people to support the trade union rally at 12pm the next day, as well as returning at 5pm for another protest.
Unfortunately, Melbourne may be the only city around the world that did not have an anti-war rally planned for the weekend following the start of war, nor was the convergence on Canberra, planned for March 23-24, mentioned from the platform.
From Green Left Weekly, March 26, 2003.
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