Outrage at police spying on anti-war protest

October 24, 2001


HOBART — About 250 people attended an October 20 rally to protest the US-led war against Afghanistan and Australia's involvement in the war. That same day the Hobart Mercury editorialised against police intimidation of a secondary student anti-war protest held two days earlier.

Police video surveillance of the October 18 Resistance-organised action featured prominently on front page of the October 19 Mercury and resulted in expressions of concern from the Victorian Civil Liberties Union and progressive lawyers Michael Mansell and Roland Browne.

Mansell, who is also a leading member of Tasmania's Aboriginal community, spoke at the October 20 rally calling for solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. He spoke scathingly of US foreign policy, explaining that the way "the US treats the rest of the world as its backyard", toppling governments "that don't toe the US line" that has led to a groundswell of anger around the world.

The rally, organised by the Network Opposing War and Racism (NOWAR), also heard from Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sarah Cleary. "George Bush is not against terrorism, only some terrorism", she said. Cleary outlined a set of measures to promote global justice, including ending both the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the sanctions on Iraq. She argued that cancellation of Third World debt would be "more effective in defeating terrorism than dropping bombs on the innocent people of Afghanistan".

Greens Senator Bob Brown expressed strong opposition to the war on Afghanistan. He also argued there was a need for Australia to play a role in bringing to justice the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attack. He argued that the United Nations General Assembly should be the body responsible for this task.

Anti-discrimination commissioner Jocelynne Scutt pointed out that the impact of Australian involvement in the war would be borne disproportionately by working-class people.

The rally began with a "drumming for peace" and ended with a highly spirited march to the Anglesea Barracks where protesters sang songs and put flowers into the cannons.

Kerry Burns reports from Brisbane that around 200 people marched on October 20 to demand that the Howard government reverse its decision to send 1500 Australian military forces to support the US-led war against Afghanistan.

Speakers included David Matters from the Public Transport Union, Tom Bramble from the National Tertiary Education Union, Socialist Alliance Brisbane candidate Ashley Lavelle and Jim McIlroy, representing the protest organising committee, the Network Opposing War and Racism (NOWAR).

Following a rally at the Defence Forces Recruiting Centre, the protesters marched to the offices of the Boeing aircraft company, where more speakers called for a halt to the war against Afghanistan.

An October 19 anti-war rally in Canberra organised by ACT Network Opposing War (ACTNOW) was attended by 300 people, Kerryn Williams reports. Chaired by Deb Fosky, a member of ACTNOW and the Greens candidate for the seat of Molonglo in the October 20 ACT elections, the rally was addressed by Rick Kuhn, representing ACTNOW, Doug Kelly of the National Tertiary Education Union and Reverend Andy Carlisle of the Uniting Church.

Bronwyn Jennings reports from Geelong that 100 people gathered for an anti-war rally on October 20 organised by the local Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) group.

"Dropping bombs on innocent people in Afghanistan must be condemned, just as the killing of innocent Americans in the September 11 attacks", Hafiz Mumib Ahmad, a leader of the Islamic Association of Geelong, told the protesters.

The rally was also addressed by John Lamp, president of the National Tertiary Education Union at Deakin University, Reverend Dr Coralie Jenkin from the Uniting Church and Alan Hand from Amnesty International, who denounced the Howard government's treatment of refugees. Tim Gooden, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Corio, chaired the rally.

High school student and Resistance member Xavier Balkin was greeted with an enthusiastic response when he called on protesters to build further and bigger anti-war protests.

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