On July 4, the anniversary of the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence in what was to become the USA, activists in the US, Britain, New Zealand, Australia and other countries took action to protest the US and British governments' neo-colonial occupation of Iraq.
Sydney: 'Iraq for Iraqis!'
BY NICK EVERETT
SYDNEY Three-hundred people protested at Sydney Town Hall Square on July 4. The rally marched through city streets, led by two coffin bearers, before assembling again outside the US consulate in Martin Place.
Speakers at the rally included Rihab Charida, representing Sawiyan Coalition for Palestine, Waratah Rosemary Gillespie, who stayed in Iraq as a human shield during the war, Greens MLC Ian Cohen and the Socialist Alliance's Marrickville co-convenor Sue Johnson.
Making its way through busy city streets, the marchers gained a warm response as they chanted "Iraq for Iraqis!" and "Hell no! We won't fight for Texaco!" A huge lead banner demanded freedom for Iraq and Palestine and the withdrawal of all occupying troops.
After arriving at the US consulate, the marchers were welcomed by Books Not Bombs spokesperson Chris Atkinson and addressed by Anti-Bases Coalition spokesperson Denis Doherty and Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group activist Raul Bassi.
To warm applause, Bassi said: "They called their war 'operation freedom'. But what freedom has their occupation given Iraqis? The real 'operation freedom' is starting now. It is the movement of resistance that is spreading across Iraq with the support of people around the world."
Byron Bay: Rally opposes war and imperialism
BY NICK FREDMAN
BYRON BAY Motorists did not seem to mind when 200 protesters brought traffic to a halt during a march here on July 4. It might simply have been that the traffic of this growing town is often choked these days, but many stranded drivers and nearby shoppers seemed supportive of the colourful anti-war, anti-imperialist messages being carried, chanted and rapped to mark US Independence Day.
The march and rally, initiated by the Nimbin-based group Peacebus, was held under the slogan "Independence from America Day break the US alliance". A diverse range of speakers all argued that US foreign policy was driven by the political and economic interests of its elite, and discussed the need to oppose the Australian corporate rich and their government in Australia.
Byron Shire Greens councillor Richard Staples condemned neoliberal economics. The increasing criminalisation of the poor and oppressed throughout the world was discussed by refugee campaigner John Allen, who also argued for the need to be "radical and disrespectful" to achieve change.
The Hemp Embassy's Michael Balderstone discussed how the "war on drugs" helps governments to increase police powers at home and support repressive regimes abroad. Nick Fredman from the Socialist Alliance called for solidarity with all those around the world opposing imperialism and repressive regimes, and urged rally goers to oppose Australian intervention in the Solomon Islands.
Melbourne: Nike protested
BY DAMIEN BRADLEY
MELBOURNE On July 4, US Independence Day, activists gathered outside the Nike store in Melbourne's CBD to protest against the unjust occupation of Iraq and other acts of imperialist aggression by the US government.
Speakers from the Victorian Peace Network, Women for Peace, the Killer Coke campaign, the socialist youth organisation Resistance, Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific and the Socialist Alliance condemned the atrocities the US government and US corporations have committed in Third World countries.
The event highlighted the hypocrisy of Independence Day celebrations. "While the US celebrates its independence, it is brutally repressing those who are rising up against its illegal, immoral, neo-colonial rule", chairperson Rachel Evans pointed out.
Sean Seymour-Jones from Resistance countered the lie that the US invasion was about the liberation of Iraq: "The US soldiers may have been expected to be welcomed as liberators, but they were sadly disappointed. On April 18, 200,000 Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad against the occupation. In Mosul, on April 15, US troops opened fire on a demonstration opposing the region's US appointed administrator, killing 17."
The protest ended with chants of "Troops out of Iraq" and "Hey, hey USA, how many kids have you killed today?"
Weapons of mass destruction found in Hobart
BY ALEX BAINBRIDGE
& JULES GREEN
HOBART "George Bush" led a "treasure hunt" for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through Hobart's Parliament House Lawns on July 5, ably assisted by "John Deputy Dawg Howard". Organised by Resistance and the Peace Coalition, the street-theatre action protested the US-led occupation of Iraq.
The hunting party looked particularly for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. "CIA operatives" had previously confirmed that weapons would be found which indeed turned out to be the case. However all of the "weapons" found were part of US WMD programs.
Agent Orange the chemical weapon found in the lawns pointed out that he had been used by the US army against Vietnamese people. His damage continues to this day.
The "nuclear weapons' program" offered the assembled treasure hunters yellow cake, and argued with Bush that it was quite hypocritical of the US to demand Iraq disarm, when the US was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war.
The "biological weapon", sitting in the outback dunny, brought out samples of the US use of biological weapons. This included the dengue fever used in Cuba and the anthrax Bush's "white knight" Donald Rumsfeld, now US defence secretary, sold to Iraq in the 1980s.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the hunt, Bush demanded from his hunting party that they find him Iraq's WMDs. Rumsfeld answered the call and began to scrub out "USA" signs from a series of missiles and replace this with "Iraq" to be strategically located near Baghdad.
Protests were also held in Newcastle and Brisbane.