By Michelle Armstrong and Tony Iltis
CANBERRA — The French government's decision to resume nuclear testing in Moruroa Atoll has met an angry response here.
A rally on June 18 at the French Embassy attracted 1000 people. The crowd marched to the prime minister's Lodge, chanting slogans against nuclear testing and uranium mining before returning to the embassy to discuss future action.
Since then, a group of about five activists has been maintaining an anti-nuclear tent embassy across the road from the embassy in Perth Avenue, Yarralumla.
On June 22, 300 people attended a rally organised by the Democratic Socialist Party at the National Press Club, where Gareth Evans was speaking. The demonstrators presented Evans with a list of demands, including banning the sale of uranium to all nuclear powers and removing Australia from the nuclear war machine by closing all US bases and stopping nuclear ship visits.
Protesters also condemned the hypocrisy of the government's "protest" to France while refusing to cut military ties with that country.
Despite a heavy, and at times aggressive, police presence, there were no arrests. Demonstrators marched to Parliament House before dispersing, vowing to return in greater numbers.
High school students formed a large contingent at both rallies and have been organising networks to distribute petitions and information.
Community anger was also reflected in the enthusiastic public response to petition stalls which Resistance and the DSP have been holding daily. So far more than 2000 people have signed, and several hundred copies of the petition have been distributed around high schools.
An open meeting of activists to plan an ongoing campaign will be held on June 29 at 7pm at the ANU (in the bridge meeting room, above the uni bar). A public meeting on the nuclear testing and how to stop it, sponsored by Resistance and the DSP, will be held on June 30 at 7pm in the Bogong Theatre, Gorman House.
On July 9 the Trades and Labour Council has planned a picket of the French Embassy, to begin with a demonstration, (the anniversary of the "Rainbow Warrior" bombing) and end with another on July 14 (Bastille Day).
These events are designed to build towards Hiroshima Day, by which time it is hoped that the growing international movement will force the French government to cancel the tests.