"US OUT! UK OUT! Australia OUT! UN IN!"
While not as large in number as the big February and March actions, tens of thousands of people took part around Australia in the ecumenical services, rallies and marches on Palm Sunday. They were not fooled by the media hype that the war is over or that Iraq has been "liberated". The various placards and banners indicated a growing awareness of what "endless war" means. There was considerable co-operation between the churches and No War committees, united in opposing the US's invasion and occupation of Iraq and Australia's involvement. All of the actions were noteworthy for the broad cross-section of people taking part. They came from the churches, trade unions, local peace groups, ethnic communities, youth organisations, medical and other professions, as well as many individuals. Many made it a family occasion. The placard: US OUT! UK OUT! OZZ OUT! UN IN! (written vertically) captured the sentiments of many of those marching. In Sydney 20,000-30,000 people marched from Belmore Park to the Domain. The march was preceded by an ecumenical service with prayers from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders. All expressed support for peace on behalf of their faiths. At the Domain speakers exposed the nature of the war, called on the Howard Government to bring the troops home. In Melbourne, 15,000-20,000 people took part. A march from Treasury Gardens met up with those participating in an ecumenical service in Flinders St. The speakers and the service, as in Sydney, reflected the breadth of the movement against the war. "Bring the Troops Home" and "No More Wars" were amongst the most prominent slogans. An estimated 6,000 marched in Brisbane and heard speakers who took up such questions as the danger of a new arms race, the role of the US base at Pine Gap, US plans for global domination. The main theme in all of this was NO WAR. In Perth the Association of Heads of Churches prayed for peace at a non-denominational service in the Supreme Court Gardens. "We take our stand against war", said Lutheran Rev Geoff Burger. MLA Giz Watson said the war in Iraq was a tragedy, "the breakdown of international law must be put right." Then later in the day, around 1000 people took part in the No War Alliance march and rally. Speakers included representatives from the churches, Youth and Students Against War and ex-serviceman Vic Williams. Mr Williams called for the immediate return of Australian troops. Over 5000 took part in Adelaide, with the support of all the major churches and many other religious and community organisations. The protest was also part of the ongoing NOWAR coalition campaign. People gathered in Victoria Square and in front of St Peters Cathedral before marching to Elder Park. Local band Mandala played a set of thought provoking songs before Brian Deegan took the stage to introduce the guest speakers. Brian became widely known in Adelaide when he went public with his protest against the Howard Government's abuse of the memory of the Bali bombings to justify its war drive. Brian's son Josh died in those outrageous attacks last October. Yasmin Ahmed of the Islamic Foundation noted that the suspicions of the peace movement about the motives behind the war on Iraq have been confirmed. "We knew that they would be dividing up the oil fields." The Fair Go For David committee was represented by Kay Bilney. She drew attention to the extreme injustice being inflicted on Australian citizen David Hicks, who is being held in a US military concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. David was captured in Afghanistan during the US invasion of that country. With the "war on terror" as an excuse, US authorities have now held David for 15 months without charges being laid against him and without legal representation. Kay urged the people present to write to their Federal Member to protest this violation of human rights. Actions in 60 countries On Saturday April 12, anti-war demonstrations took place Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Burma (Myanmar), Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haifa, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, U.S., Uruguay (April 11), Venezuela, Yemen. In Australia the actions were on April 13. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in central Washington, DC against the invasion and occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Organisers estimate that 100,000 people marched through London's Hyde Park, waving banners saying "No Occupation of Iraq" and chanting "Bush, Blair, CIA, how many kids have you killed today?" Demonstrators waved multi-coloured banners and flags including those of many Muslim countries. Palestinian and Iraqi flags were very conspicuous.