|Takver's Soapbox | Melbourne, 14 March 2003||www.takver.com|
Up to 400 people gathered at Federation Square on Friday afternoon
to condemn Howard, Bush and Blair and their rush to war on Iraq.
Several speakers exhoted the crowd to keep up the protests,
including an Iraqi woman. Dave Cushion, from the MUA, explained
that across the world, workers were preparing to strike and protest
when US and allied forces invade Iraq. Reta Kaur, from Women
for Peace made an impassioned speech against war and the effect
of war on women and children.
The rally then started marching up Flinders Street to
No 1 Spring street, the building which has an office
for our Prime Minister John Howard.
The march continued around the city, at one point sitting down
at the intersection of Collins and Exhibition streets, before moving on.
On Friday students from the Victoria College of the Arts performed street theatre against war outside their school on St Kilda Road. About 70 students and onlookers watched the street theatre to puzzled and amused expressions of passing motorists.
Behind a banner saying "How destructive does a man's phallus have to be" two mock phalluses poked up several metres, one draped in the Stars and Stripes flag of the USA and the other in the British Union Jack. Many of the students wore caricature face masks of George Bush, Tony Blair or John Howard. Another banner said "Sponsored by..." with the symbols of the major oil companies. A youthful Osama Bin Laden pranced up and down.
I visited a peace vigil on Friday outside the consulate of the USA at 553 St Kilda Road. The vigil has been running since March 6 and is sponsored by Women for Peace and the Moreland Peace Group. People attend the vigil from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday.
A card table with information, stickers and badges provides a focus for engaging people. A honk for Peace placard has definitely been working and quite a few passing motorists sound their horn. The vigil has been getting great support from locals who live nearby and from workers in surrounding offices, including from the same building as the consulate.
Reta Kaur for Women for Peace said "It cannot be business as usual at American embassies and consulates around the world when Iraqi children, women and men are circled and terrorised by 250,000 trocps and American weapons of mass destruction. Peace loving people opposed to all wars must be present and be witnesses at American, British and Australian government offices and demonstrate their rage and grief at the injustice and racism inherent in the Iraq conflict. No male leader, white or black, has asked the women and children for their views, and they will form 80% of the war casualties."
Women for Peace oppose the war in Iraq totally. Ms Kaur said "The UN was established to keep peace in the world, not start wars. We demand that Australian troops be brought home to their families, that Australia, like New Zealand and Canada, play a leadership role in keeping the peace all over the world, and not support American interests against the wishes of the Australian people."
"The terror of war is not the solution to terrorism. Only sustained peace and justice in the 21 century will deliver a safe and a peaceful world for all. Wars are crimes against humanity and must be banned as must be the manufacture of weapons." declared Reta Kaur.
The vigil is a powerful symbolic action against the government of the USA and their plans to invade Iraq. If you can spare some time, wander down and volunteer to do some shifts outside, or just spend some time with a placard and talk to passing pedestrians.
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