The Guardian April 16, 2003


"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.

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