Anti-Conscription Celebration – 25 April, 2011

Lineup in front of IWW banner next to 8-hours monument

As in previous years – see for example on this site last year – there was a counter to the ‘official’ ANZAC Day events in Melbourne, this time taking the form of a celebration of IWW success in defeating attempts to introduce conscription during WWI. The gathering was held at the 8-Hours monument across the road from Trades Hall – which is currently adorned by banners promoting the annual Comedy Festival and this anti-nuclear one:

No-nukes banner on wall of Trades Hall

In addition to some spirited singing of, amongst other things, (a modified) “I Walk the Line”, Jeremy of IWW Melbourne read a selection of poems by Lesbia Harford, and members of MACG circulated a statement entitled “End the Anzac Myth”, the text of which
should be available soon on anarkismo.net.*

Singing "I walk the line" - text suitably modified

See also this post on Indymedia Australia referring to this and other current protests in Australia.

The IWW banner next to the 8-hours monument

The well-worn IWW banner

Another view of the lineup

By way of postscript, it may not be amiss to recall here a well-known poem by Wilfred Owen, killed in France 4 November 1918, exactly one week before the Armistice:

[text from Project Gutenberg]

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

* The statement can be found here; It runs as follows:

A Myth is Born

On 25 April 1915, ANZAC troops storm a Turkish beach at Gallipoli and are mown down by the defenders. They hung on till January 1916 before evacuating. It is an ill-thought-out attempt by the British to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War. Between 1914 and 1918, 9.6 million soldiers and 6.8 million civilians died in this clash of two rival imperialist alliances, each out to conquer territories and markets from the other. The soldiers and civilians died, not for freedom or democracy, but for the power and profits of their ruling classes. In Australia, Anzac Day has become a foundational myth for nationalism and militarism. The undoubted sacrifices of the troops are used to sanctify both the Australian military and Australia’s imperialist wars.

Militarism is Brutality

This year, Anzac Day occurs in the midst of a series of scandals involving Australian military personnel. The Skype scandal involves a female soldier unwittingly being broadcast to a group of male soldiers while having sex. This has released a flood of other complaints, some current and some from decades ago, about beatings, sexual assaults and other examples of bastardisation. Even an independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, has been drawn in. Military forces around the world are hotbeds of bastardisation; they both attract many brutes and turn many soldiers into brutes. It cannot be otherwise, since the military require not human beings but obedient killers.

Imperialism on Franchise

The United States is overwhelmingly the most powerful country in the world, with the largest economy and a military which dwarfs all others. With that power, it dominates world affairs, maintaining a world order favourable to it (though not to the same extent as in previous decades). This domination is known as imperialism. Australia supports the US in maintaining this order and, in return, gets to dominate East Timor and the South Pacific. It is effectively a franchise arrangement and the franchise fee is Australian participation in Uncle Sam’s wars across the region, regardless of either the justification or the direct relevance to the national interests of Australian capitalism.

Workers of the World, Unite!

There is an alternative, a path to peace, to a world without the violence of war and the brutality that it breeds in order to produce soldiers. As workers, we need international solidarity for the daily fight against global capitalism. Without it, we are played off against each other country by country, in an endless race to the bottom. With it, we can sweep away nationalist myths and stand as comrades across national borders. And it is this internationalism that will enable us to build a global movement and have a workers’ revolution that spreads around the globe. We can establish a world society of libertarian communism and put an end to imperialism, militarism and war. Then, and only then, can we have peace.

MILITARISM IS BRUTALITY

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

25 April 2011

Palm Sunday Silent Vigil for Peace – 17 April 2011

Peace banners on lawns of State Library

Peace activists held a silent vigil on the lawns of the State Library in Melbourne on Palm Sunday before making their way to a Peace Forum at the Wesley Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street. While some held banners calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan and the abolition of nuclear weapons, others distributed leaflets listing upcoming events and ’8 reasons to end the Afghanistan War’ (see report on a “Peak Hour vigil for Peace” on this site for 14 Sept 2010).

Among the banners was one from Japan, made in 2004 when a 9-month march from Roxby Downs in South Australia ended at Hiroshima – see this article.
Japanese peace banner

There will be another ‘Footprints for Peace’ walk later this year – see details here.

The recent nuclear catastrophe in Japan was also remembered:

No Nukes and anti-uranium placards

The vigil ended with a symbolic ‘die-in’:
Activists lying on ground to simulate casualties

The outlines of the dead being marked in chalk:
Chalk outline of one of the 'dead' - 'Mum of 3'

Detail of dove on one of the banners

Stop HRL Protest – Treasury Place, Melbourne, 11 April 2011

Banner at Treasury Place - 'Don't fund more coal power'

The Stop HRL collective called a rally at Federation Square for 9.30am on Monday 11 April, but what they didn’t announce was that a number of activists would be attempting to occupy a Government building at that time …

The same banner at Federation Square

Setting up for the 'Rally at Federation Square'

So the event began as a rally setting up at Federation Square, but almost at once the word came to march up to Treasury Place, where five activists were now locked on to a steel ladder in the foyer of No 1, which houses both State and Federal offices. They had entered without hindrance and were now refusing to leave until their demands were met, including a halt to funding for a new coal-fired power station in the LaTrobe Valley, and the redirection of the money towards developing renewable energy sources.

Some of the activists were successful in getting an unscheduled meeting with Energy Minister Michael O’Brien – at one point it was reported that Victorian Government business had come to a halt because the whole cabinet was holed up inside the building unable to leave – though in the event he was not in any mind to give the required commitments.In terms of media interest generated, however, the action was an overwhelming success, and surely laid a basis for wider community involvement. There is a survey of media coverage on the StopHRL website, and a gallery of photos from the day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/61659025@N02/.

Once outside the building, the rally heard from a succession of speakers: Dr Merryn Redenbach for Stop HRL, Julien Vincent from Greenpeace, Naomi Hogan of Rising Tide Newcastle), Vivien Langford of Beyond Zero Emissions, and Drew Hutton of Lock the Gate, as well as updates via mobile phone from the people inside. There was also music from the Riff Raff Radical Marching Band from Sydney, and long-term activist comedian Rod Quantock was a welcome guest speaker, followed by a members of the rally taking advantage of the open mic. There was a long wait, and the police line had to be relieved at lunchtime, which meant that Beyond Zero Emissions representatives had an opportunity to repeat their presentation of the technology of solar-thermal baseload generation for the benefit of those who had missed out the first time round. It was reported at one point that the minister had agreed to come down and meet the protesters in view of the rally, but this was later withdrawn, and eventually there was agreement that he would meet three in his office, and the others would leave, along with supporters who had kept them company inside. The whole process lasted the best part of four and a half hours, and the five certainly deserved every cheer they received when they emerged.

The media summary on StopHRL includes links to TV footage, but longer excerpts from the speeches and other parts of the action will be posted here shortly.* There is also a report on Melbourne Indymedia, sourced from Friends of the Earth and others.

From the callout:

The company HRL is planning a new coal-fired power station in Victoria, and the state & federal governments have committed $150 million towards it. This money should be funding Victoria’s future renewable energy industries.

Over the last couple of months the Stop HRL campaign has been building community awareness and preparing to mobilise in the likely event that the EPA approves this new power station. The latest news is that this application process has been dragging on because the EPA requested more information from HRL before completed their assessment, and HRL has been very slow in providing this information – the EPA is still waiting.

The Stop HRL collective was originally planning to respond once the EPA had approved the project, but this delay has enabled us to go on the front foot.

This coming weekend, the 3rd annual national grassroots climate summit is on in Melbourne (which we highly recommend – check out the program & RSVP here: http://www.climatesummit.org.au). As part of this summit, climate activists will be coming from across Australia to join our protest.

The action will be the culmination of the national grassroots climate action summit.

It will be a rally with a range of impressive speakers. And to kick off our media campaign, some people will take peaceful, dignified and inspiring direct action close to the rally to highlight the strength of community commitment to stop this proposal.

Please sign up to our contact list at http://www.stophrl.org, forward to your local group members and ask at least one friend or colleague to sign up too.

Drew Hutton speaking

Drew Hutton of Lock the Gate

Activists in foyer seen through window

Shaun Murray, sitting, and others locked on to ladder

Activist fronting the media outside the building

Media interviews afterwards

*

Stop HRL banner - link to video

Click here for video