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

Free Political Prisoners in West Papua – rally at Indonesian Consulate, Melbourne, 8 April 2011

Protesters with banners outside Consulate gates

The Morning Star flew in front of the Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne this morning as members of the West Papua community and supporters gathered to demand the release of political prisoners and an end to torture and repression.

Banner - Free West Papua

The particular focus of the action was the case of Filep Karma, sentenced in May 2005 to 15 years imprisonment for treason – see this Amnesty USA video on YouTube :

(http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/priority-cases/indonesia-filep-karma/page.do?id=1101238)

Filep Karma, Prisoner of Conscience
Filep Karma @ ELSHAM Filep Karma is serving 15 years in prison for raising a flag. A prominent advocate for the rights of Indonesia’s Papuan population, Filep Karma was arrested for taking part in a peaceful ceremony on December 1, 2004, which included the raising of the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence…

Amnesty International considers Filep Karma to be a prisoner of conscience who has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty is concerned at reports that Mr. Karma has been beaten by guards and has experienced serious health problems in prison. The organization calls on the Indonesian government to free Filep Karma and all other prisoners of conscience.

There was no sign of life at the Consulate beyond the presence of these three …

Police and AFP official inside grounds, 'Papua Merdeka!' banner in driveway

But there was plenty of life outside. The West Papuans as always took to expressing their feelings in song, and passing traffic responded to the appeals with much loud honking – Queens Road is a major thoroughfare and there were a lot of trucks going past.

West Papuans with Morning Star flag singing outside gate

There is to be a West Papua film night next Friday at 7.30pm(April 15) at Kindness House, 288 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – see notice on Indymedia Calendar.

Holding up the Morning Star flag outside the Consulate gates

LIneup outside the Consulate

Protest at Broadmeadows Detention Centre – 2 April 2011

View of protest at gate of centre

Melbourne’s Refugee Action Collective (RAC-Vic) organised a rally and march to the so-called Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre in Broadmeadows, a prison-like facility which currently houses more than 140 young asylum seekers aged 13-18, ‘[most] of them teenage boys whose fathers, brothers or other family members have been killed and their families have sent them out of the country to save their lives’ (RAC-Vic release; see also http://www.rac-vic.org/media-releases/media_11_03_29.htm). After gathering in a carpark on Sydney Road, where Greens MLC Colleen Hartland gave a brief address, the rally marched down Camp Road to the centre to protest at the main gate, where there were further speakers, including Hyder Gulam, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Nicole Mousely of RAC-Vic, Gilios Kogoya, a West Papuan activist and refugee, Kumar Pathmanathan of the Tamil Refugee Council, Wayne Klempel, AMWU Northern District Secretary, Alex Bhathal of the Greens, North-East Region, and Jacob Lay, a high-school student who read a statement from the point of view of someone the same age as the young people locked up inside…

Rally gathering in carpark

In the carpark

'No-one is illegal' and other placards - in the carpark

In the carpark ...

Colleen Hartland speaking

Colleen Hartland

The march setting off from the carpark - banner reads 'Children out of Detention'

The march sets off ...

Placard 'Five Suicides - Chris Bowen How do you sleep at night?

During a brief stop at the corner of the Hume Highway and Camp Road

Another view of banners during stop at corner

Also during the stop at the corner

Various shots during the march:

The head of the march

Banner at rear of march - 'free the refugees'

Bringing up the rear

Socialist placard on the march
Dog, balloons, Eureka flag etc on march

View of march stretching back into distance along Camp Road

Boy with placard - 'No-one is illegal'

More children with placards on march

.

Banner on march and Greens triangle - 'Seeking asylum is not illegal'

LaTrobe University RAC banner - 'I ain't afraid of no boats'

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
At the centre:

Hyder Gulam speaking

Hyder Gulam

Nicole Mousely speaking

Nicole Mousely

Rally from rear - Hyder Gulam speaking

Gilios Kogoya speaking

Gilios Kogoya

Kumar Pathmanathan speaking

Kumar Pathmanathan

Rally listening to Gilios Kogoya

Wayne Klempel speaking

Wayne Klempel


Alex Bhathal speaking

Alex Bhathal

Jacob Lay speaking

Jacob Lay

Sue Bolton of RAC-Vic speaking

Sue Bolton of RAC-Vic

While the speeches were going on, people had the opportunity to add messages to a banner, which would then be strung on the wire:

Adding a message to the cloth banner

Another banner pinned to the wire:

'Free all Political Prisoners' - Anarchist Black Cross banner on wire

Anarchist Black Cross

In conclusion, balloons were released to fly over the centre:

Balloons flying over the centre

But there were interruptions to the planned course of the event: a group of detainees could be seen in the distance at one point waving and shouting, their path to the gate blocked by guards and uniformed police:

Detainees can be seen protesting

One person from the rally managed to scale a side fence and was promptly arrested (she was eventually driven off in police van when most of the rally had dispersed, to loud cheers from those remaining):

Protester being arrested

Protester being marched away
.

Hand visible in rear window of police van as protester is driven away

A police officer saw fit to spray two protesters, one wheelchair bound, in the face for being too close to the gate (he was soon after removed from the area by his superiors):

Police officer holding capsicum spray can after using it...

Spray victim,s on ground, bathing eyes

Most dramatic, three boys managed to escape as far as the forecourt, where they were quickly surrounded by a protective circle of sympathisers. Unfortunately, one cut himself on the barbed wire in the process and relapsed into shock. An ambulance had to be called, and after some while he seemed quite recovered. After much discussion an agreement was reached by which the three agreed to return voluntarily to the centre, on the basis that there would then be no adverse repercussions …. In the meantime, the ambulance had been summoned to the centre itself, where the word was that there had been another instance of self-harm. This could not be confirmed.

Boy leaping over fence
The above photo was originally posted with the boy’s face blurred, in response to a message requesting that no photos identifying the escapees should be published. This request was widely ignored at the time, and was apparently rescinded later in the afternoon, on which basis this and the next three photos are now added*:

Boy being attended to after jumping fence

Another shot of boy

Support for escapee

*There is some discussion of this in the comments to the Indymedia report linked to below.

The ambulance crew tend to the boys

Ambulance enters centre followed by car of worker at centre

The ambulance crew were then called to attend to 'a potentially life-threatening emergency' in the centre.

(The car following the ambulance was driven by a worker at the centre who had arrived earlier for his shift but had been unable to get in…)

Boys walk back to centre escorted by guards

Placard left at gate - image of child with crust of bread

At time of writing there does not seem to have been any mainstream media reporting of the event; at least one camera crew were present at the start, but stayed only a very short time. Perhaps this attitude of the media goes some way towards explaining why so few people in Melbourne even know of the existence of the centre?

(Added 6.40pm – the ABC 7pm news yesterday evening apparently did carry a report of the event, though as stated above, the reporters had left before the breakout etc. There has been more coverage of the day’s events on Melbourne Indymedia here and here, including links to video on YouTube, showing amongst other things, the use of capsicum spray.)

(Added 6.52pm – this has just appeared on the ABC website – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/03/3181017.htm?section=justin)