Vale Rosemarie Waratah Gillespie

June 26, 2010
Waratah Gillespie (right in orange dress). Photo by Peter Boyle.

It is with great sadness that Green Left Weekly reports the death of human rights activist Rosemarie Waratah Gillespie, 69, who unexpectedly died in Melbourne on June 21 from a stroke.

An activist for more than 40 years, she was a human rights lawyer, activist, author, filmmaker, anti-capitalist, Indigenous activist and mother.

Waratah lived in Port Kembla and frequently travelled to Sydney to attend meetings at Humanist House, where she was vice president of the Humanist Society. The society was just one of her many passions.

Waratah was a founder of the Bougainville freedom movement in Australia, and wrote books and produced films about the struggle in Bougainville.

She became a political prisoner when detained by the Fiji government in 1987 after a military coup and acted as a “human shield” during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Her earlier activism covered areas that seem more like history to those alive today, but at the time were the day-to-day struggle of progressive political activists, such as the campaign to abolish the “white Australia” immigration policy — repealed by the Whitlam government in 1975.

A life-long learner, she graduated from Melbourne, Monash and Chicago universities as well as the Australian National University, and wrote two books: Ecocide: Industrial Chemical Contamination and the Corporate Profit Imperative — The Case of Bougainville (1999) and Invasion of Iraq: An Eyewitness Account (2004).

Waratah was born in Melbourne in 1941 and is survived by two daughters, three grandchildren, two sisters and a brother.

Waratah's family have asked that no flowers be sent, but that donations in lieu be sent to the Bougainville cause, c/o the NSW Humanist Society, 10 Shepherd Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008.

A service in Sydney is being organised by Affie Adagio. Phone 0421 101 163 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0421 101 163      end_of_the_skype_highlighting for more info. Personal memoirs of Waratah's life can be sent to her family at .

Funeral arrangements in Melbourne were not finalised as GLW went to print.

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