The Guardian December 4, 2002


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.

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