International Peace Day in Melbourne, 21 September – 2, Retire the Bomb!

Elderly 'bomb' with placard - 65 years on it's time to retire the bomb

ICAN in Melbourne marked the day at the State Library with a mock retirement party for the Bomb, which was also an opportunity for people to add their video messages to the One Million Pleas campaign.

"Bomb" handing out booklets

The decidedly superannuated-looking bomb spent much of the time on a convenient couch next to a table with tea things, but at intervals got up to help distribute a recently published ICAN booklet entitled ‘The Case Against Nuclear Weapons’(also viewable online – there is a copy next to the teapot here –

Table with tea things

- as well as obliging passers-by and children by posing for photos:

"Bomb" seated, with friends

Seated with young woman

One young woman was wearing a notice that it was her birthday, and offering free hugs:

Seated with 'birthday girl'

Hugging the Bomb

‘He’ was particularly popular with the children:

"Bomb" towering over group of children

Visit http://www.icanw.org.au

International Peace Day in Melbourne, 21 September – 1, Billboard Launch at Federation Square

Train arriving - billboard in background

What looks at first to be rather cryptic graffiti is in fact a billboard carrying an entry in a young girl’s diary from 1972, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Artist Kathleen McCann, who was responsible for the performance Who By Fire reported here on 4 June, negotiated with the management of Federation Square to display the billboard on Russell Street near the intersection with Flinders Street – where it is clearly visible from passing trains as well as the road.

the billboard in closeup

Closeup

The diary was kept by her sister, then nine years old, and contains besides the featured entry others such as “today there was five fires…”, “We went to the doctors for our injection There was alot of explosions tonight”, “today was a bloody sunday 13 people were murderded by the soldiers”. (Facsimiles from her sister’s diary are used in Kathleen McCann’s contribution to the series of poster published by Breakdown Press under the title ‘Peace Posters’.

The diary- open at the page

THe diary - open at the page

Kathleen with the diary- Dave Sweeney of ACF looks on

Kathleen with the diary- Dave Sweeney of ACF looks on

Today was chosen to “launch” the billboard, and the artist can be seen here with her parents and fellow activists as well as a representative of the management. There is an AVANTcard of the featured diary entry, and the Peace Posters are obtainable from the publisher – email distro@breakdownpress.org.

Artist with family and others at the launch

Artist with family and others at the launch

There was also the option of a stamp to mark the occasion:

Arm with diary entry ink-stamped - billboard in background

Another view, with MCG and Rod Laver Arena in background

Another view, with MCG and Rod Laver Arena in background

Picket of Chilean Consulate in support of Mapuche Hunger Strikers – 17 September.

Mapuche flags outside the consulate

The Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET) organised a picket outside the Chilean Consulate in Melbourne at lunchtime today, displaying the Mapuche flag and delivering a letter to be forwarded to the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera.

Protester outside the consulate

Last Monday, 13 September, was the third anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Meanwhile, in Chile, 32 Mapuche political prisoners have been on hunger strike for over 65 days in protest at the Chilean Government’s continued violation of the human rights of the country’s Indigenous people.

Placard demanding justice for Mapuche prisoners

The letter draws attention to the contradiction between the UN Declaration and the present lack of respect shown by the Chilean Government towards the Mapuche people, who it says “are currently subjected to frequent violent raids, where the victims are usually children and elders … the indiscriminate and fixed use of protected witnesses including minors; the excessive duration of investigation headed by the Public Ministry that only prepetuates preventive imprisonment.” It mentions as a particular concern from an Australian perspective “the application of the Anti-terrorist Law … created under the military government which led to the arbitrary judicial decision against the Mapuche people. We consider that this action attempts [to overturn] the democracy and human rights principles that [the Chilean Government]says it represents.”

There follows a list of demands, beginning with the “Immediate devolution of Mapuche ancestral territories and land” and the letter ends with the names of supporting organisations in Australia, including the Chilean Popular and Indigenous Solidarity Network,LASNET, Friends of the Earth – Australia, and many others.

Protesters with letter at door of consulate

The Consul-General receives the letter

The Anarchist Black Cross also sent a message of support, which was read out at the picket, and passers-by were offered a flier for the upcoming Solidarity Gathering to be held at Trades Hall on October 15-17 under the banner of “Defending Workers and Indigenous Rights – Building bridges and global resistance against Multinational Corporations” – details and the flier can be found on the LASNET website – http://www.latinlasnet.org/

Flier for October gathering

LASNET are also holding a Latin Fiesta/Solidarity Spring Party on Saturday 25 September on the theme “Protecting our planet, defending our communities!” – starting at 7pm at the MUA Hall, 54 Ireland Street, West Melbourne, details also on the LASNET website.

Flier for September 25 Fiesta

There will be more protests until the Chilean Government takes heed…

Mapuche flag

“End the Afghanistan War” – peak hour vigil 14 September

Campaigners with banner "End the Afghanistan War"

Anti-war campaigners held a vigil at the Elizabeth St entrance to Melbourne Central station during the peak hour rush this evening, holding banners reading “End the Afghanistan War” and “Hit the STOP Button on the Afghanistan War”. Although most of the commuters were obviously rushing to catch their trains, as can be seen in some of the accompanying photos, many took leaflets, and a few stopped to discuss the issues.

Commuters hurrying past banner

This was one of a series of such vigils, the last having been on 17 August. The leaflet set out ’8 Reasons to end the Afghanistan War’ as shown in the scanned copy posted below, but also served to advertise a further action planned for the 9th anniversary of the start of the war – a “die-in” at Flinders Street Station and other locations. Further information via email to melb.anti.war@gmail.com

Campaigner in discussion with member of public

Taking a leaflet

From the callout for this evening’s vigil:

Thanks to the unusual election result and the unfortunate deaths of more Australian soldiers, the Afghanistan war has been thrown into the centre stage of politics. In this context the Australian Greens have negotiated an agreement for a coalition with Labor, which included a committment to “a full parliamentary debate on Afghanistan”. Given the reluctance of both major parties to have any open discussion about the Afghanistan war, this is definitely a step forward which hopefully open the space for peace activists to call for troops to be withdrawn. Info about the agreement can be found at: http://greens.org.au/greens_labor_deal

See also http://smoyle.wordpress.com/

Detail from banner - peace dove with names and messages in texta

Detail from one of the banners

Second banner - "Hit the STOP button on the Afghanistan War"

The second banner

Scan of flyer - "8 Reasons to end the Afghanistan War"

The leaflet