Peace Camp a 'unique experiment'
By Jim McIlroy
BRISBANE — The Gulf Peace Camp, which ended its stay 2 km from the Iraqi-Saudi Arabian border on January 28, was "an amazing and unique experiment in non-violent struggle", camp member Jerry Smith told a forum at the Resistance Centre on February 27.
"We learned a lot about group dynamics, with 73 people from 15 countries, all strongly motivated, a challenge to cooperation."
A major aspect of the camp, Smith said, was meeting the "people and cultures of the Middle East. The Iraqis are an extremely open and friendly people, who despite everything supported Saddam Hussein against the 'United Nations of America', as the 'coalition' is known."
Another peace camp has now been established on the Jordanian-Syrian-Israeli border, Smith explained. Its task is "to promote international connections between people, to pressure their governments for peace", Smith concluded.
Well-known peace activist Dean Jeffries, who also recently returned from the Gulf Peace Camp, stressed the vitality and complexity of bringing together people from different cultures and viewpoints for a cooperative purpose.
"We have to build up a strong enough grassroots network in Australia to stop Bob Hawke going to war", now and in the future, Jeffries said.
Jan McNichol, spokesperson for the Gulf Peace Camp Support Team in Brisbane, explained the importance of strong backup at home for the camp. "Our task was keeping the peace camp in front of the Australian government and people."
This kind of support would be "essential for any future camp", she concluded.