WA youth defy media anti-protest hysteria

Issue 

BY RUSSELL PICKERING

PERTH — Despite a hysterical campaign by the Western Australian media and police opposing the right of young people to protest against the Iraq war, a 400-strong anti-war rally was held by Youth and Students Against the War (YSAW) on April 4.

Following the March 26 YSAW-organised anti-war rally, during which cops violently attacked a sit-down protest, WA police stated that no further march permits would be issued to YSAW.

However, in a major backdown, a march permit for April 4 was issued after public opposition to the ban mounted and lawyers representing those arrested at the March 26 rally began compiling evidence of the police violence.

Addressing the protesters at the April 4 rally, YSAW's Fred Fuentes displayed the police permit and announced it vindicated YSAW's claim that students were not responsible for the violence on March 26.

Mark Cox from the No War Alliance explained the role of the team of legal observers assembled for the day to accompany the protest march.

Other speakers included Ian Bolas, representing the Construction, Forestry and Energy Union. He explained that the CFMEU had also been the victim of media misrepresentation and police harassment and, like the students, had actively defended its members' democratic rights.

Despite the presence of large numbers of police, including the Tactical Response Group and numerous undercover cops, the march through Perth's CBD was loud, energetic and free from violence.

The march ended in the Murray Street Mall with music, speeches and a mass die-in.

The next major anti-war action will be the No War Alliance-organised Palm Sunday rally commencing at 2pm in the Supreme Court Gardens on April 13. This will follow a ecumenical Palm Sunday service at the same venue at noon.

From Green Left Weekly, April 9, 2003.
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