BY SIMON BUTLER
BRISBANE — By the afternoon of August 22 the University of Queensland was covered with posters against the October 6 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The mass paste-up was part of a coordinated action in opposition to the arrest of student activist and anti-CHOGM campaigner, Leigha Coonan.
The Queensland police had arrested Coonan on campus a week earlier and threatened her with a maximum seven-year jail sentence. Her crime — putting up posters advocating protests against CHOGM.
At the August 22 rally called by Students Campaigning Against Multinationals speakers demanded that the charges against Coonan be dropped and the university administration and Queensland police cease their intimidation of anti-CHOGM activists. The rally attracted 150 students.
Thirty students concluded the protest action by defiantly pasting-up several hundred posters around the campus. On this occasion the police were nowhere to be seen.
Ewan Saunders, a member of Resistance and a student at UQ, told Green Left Weekly that the demonstration was important because the arrest and charging of Coonan demanded a swift student response.
"The arrest [of Coonan] is not only an outrageous attack on freedom of expression", Saunders said. "It is a politically motivated attack on all those thinking of protesting against neo-liberal globalisation at CHOGM. The fact that the police are already targeting activists a full two months before the protest actually begins reveals how terrified Premier Peter Beattie's government is of the movement for global justice. They are afraid of that thousands of people will come out on the streets to protest on October 6."
Meanwhile, Coonan is appealing her charge and will lodge complaints with the Criminal Justice Commission and Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.