BY GRAHAM MATTHEWS
MELBOURNE — Supporters of peace and justice sprang into action as soon as they heard that US bombing raids on Afghanistan had begun, rallying in their thousands on the evening of October 8.
By far the largest action happened in Melbourne, where 1000 people responded to the call of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER). The rally was the third large anti-war demonstration held in the city in eight days.
A series of impromptu speakers from the Anglican Church, the Greens and Socialist Alliance addressed a crowd that grew rapidly.
Socialist Alliance's Jackie Lynch spoke of her great sorrow at the immense loss of life, both in New York and now in Afghanistan, but said that her sorrow was, with the US's armed retaliation, turning into anger.
The rally set off on a march through city streets, staging sit-downs and invading the forecourt of the department of immigration. It drew the obvious link between the federal government's support for war and its vicious treatment of Iraqi and Afghan refugees.
In Canberra, 100 people gathered outside the tightly secured US embassy to chant "George Bush, CIA, how many kids did you kill today".
Protesters were unperturbed by a tiny counter protest in support of the US war drive, led by independent MP for the seat of Eden-Monaro Peter Cochran and Steve Pratt, a Liberal candidate in the local ACT election.
Around 300 people gathered in Sydney outside the US consulate in Martin Place. The rally marched down to Town Hall, chanting anti-war slogans and distributing information against the war.
In Brisbane, 300 people gathered in King George Square to hear fiery speeches urging people to mobilise against this war on the Third World.
In Geelong, 30 people took the streets, while 100 people protested in Hobart.
In Wollongong, 100 people demonstrated, showing the strong anti-war sentiment which is building in the Illawarra.
"This is not a war for freedom or justice", said Marg Perrott, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Throsby. "This war is an opportunity for the United States to expand and consolidate its global dominance, and they've gone for it with everything they've got."