Student anger strikes Melbourne

April 2, 2003


MELBOURNE — Up to 4000 predominantly high school students careened through the streets of Melbourne in a chaotic and energetic display of anger over the war on Iraq on March 26.

Even before the speaking platform began the students, many of them from Iraqi, Lebanese and other Middle Eastern backgrounds, chanted passionately "USA, please explain, why did you install Hussein" and "Howard is a wanker".

Resistance member and rally chair, Zoe Kenny introduced proceedings by condemning the politicians' and media campaign to convince the public that the anti-war movement was defeated. "They want this movement dead!" she said, "But are you ready to give up?" The crowd answered with a prolonged and emphatic "NOOOOOOO!".

Liz Thompson from the National Union of Students also got a great response to her declarations that "students will not behave" in the face of the massacre of Iraqis and would continue to campaign for money for books not bombs. She quoted from a letter from a student in Baghdad who reported that religious and political repression in Iraq had increased as a result of the last Gulf War in 1991 and that the student movement for democracy there had been obliterated as a result of the poverty caused by US sanctions.

Craig Johnston, building worker and Workers First activist in the in the AMWU, congratulated the students for leading the movement against the war and in support of refugees. He said that students and workers need to work together to "throw out both the Howard and Bracks governments and replace them with a real workers' government."

"Iraqi people aren't our enemies", he said. "John Howard pretends he cares about them but that's bullshit. He doesn't care about them and he doesn't care about Australian people either."

A provocative one hour open platform finished up the rally. One 12-year-old speaker bemoaned the lack of political choice in Australia. "At election time people get to choose between the pathetic and the dangerous. When Howard was first elected we thought he was pathetic, but now we find out he's bloody dangerous!"

From Green Left Weekly, April 2, 2003.
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