People say: "No War on Iraq"
by Janice Hamilton and Bob Briton The message is clear: "No war on Iraq", "No Australian Involvement". It's the message that thousands of people sent to the Australian and Bush Governments at the "Walk against War" protests held in capital cities and regional centres of Ipswich, Lismore, Taree, Alice Springs and Launceston last weekend. There was also an action at Pine Gap. Sydney At least 25,000 braved the weather to Walk Against War last Saturday. There was a broad cross-section of the community from different ethnic, religious, political, trade union, peace, solidarity and other organisations. There were many individuals and families, young and old, some on their first march, all united against war. Protestors made their way from the Town Hall to the Domain where a wide range of speakers, reflecting the breadth of the backgrounds of participants addressed the rally. Actor John Howard was MC for the event with speakers including John Pilger, and entertainment by Jenny Morris, Leonardo's Bride and CNNN (The Chaser). Mr Howard and Mr Pilger, in a joint statement before the demonstration, asked the Australian Government to explain: "What has Iraq done to Australia? Apart from buying wheat." "The last war against Iraq, the romantically named 'Desert Storm', in which Australia took part, killed over 20,000 people. In the decade since that calamity, partly as a result of the irradiation of southern Iraq and partly as a result of sanctions policed by our Australian Navy, over 500,000 children have died. Adelaide In Adelaide, protestors carrying placards, flags and banners with demands for an independent foreign policy for Australia, humane treatment for refugees and the destruction of ALL of the world's weapons of mass destruction made their way from Victoria Square to Elder Park. Around 2,000 people gathered to hear speakers and performers, united in support of the main slogan of the march: "NOT IN OUR NAME". Rev. Lee Levett Olsson of the Uniting Church made an impassioned plea to the leaders of the world's most powerful nations not to release the poisons of war. He referred not only to the poisoning of relations between communities for generations but also to the literal poisoning of the land, the waters and the skies bound to occur in the event of war. He pointed out the hypocrisy of those countries responsible for the use of the "depleted uranium" covered shells that have contaminated Yugoslavia, who are now claiming concern over "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. Professor Ian Maddocks, who chairs the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) organisation, spoke of his concerns as a health care provider. He urged those present to read a report entitled "Collateral Damage", which details the likely health consequences of a war against Iraq (www.medact.org). State Labor Member for Mitchell, Kris Hanna, called on participants to build bridges of friendship with Muslim Australians as important step in turning around the climate of hate being generated by the Federal Government. Melbourne Unionists, Members of Parliament, church leaders and musicians joined thousands of demonstrators on Sunday in a very colourful protest against the war. The 20,000 strong march was lead by children in a noisy but peaceful march through the CBD to Treasury Gardens where speakers warned of the dangers of any US-led war on Iraq. Federal Labor MP Harry Quick asked why should we follow blindly the US, a nation that has torn up more international treaties and disregarded more UN conventions than the rest of the world has done in the last 20 years? Damien Lawson one of the organisers of the protest from the Victorian Peace Network said a number of smaller community based demonstrations would be held in the coming weeks as part of a growing international movement that has a lot of depth to it, and is growing stronger every day. Brisbane A group of around 600 people held a Candlelight Gathering for Peace in King George Square to mark the Australia wide Anti-War actions. There were a number of speakers at the rally including church and union leaders with the main theme of the protest being Peace and Freedom. Perth A "No war on Iraq" march and rally will be held in Perth on December 8.