Rally and March for Marriage Equality – 17 May 2014

[Updated 19 May] For details of event see the Equal Love Facebook page and website. There are more photos (341!) by Michael Barnett at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152426635170149.1073741850.553710148&type=1

Naomi Farmer addressing the rally

NUS Queer Officer Naomi Farmer addressing the rally

Apart from the speakers – Adam Bandt of the Greens, Sally Goldner of Transgender Victoria, Adam Bottomley (Australian Services Union Delegate of the Year 2013), NUS Queer Officer Naomi Farmer and of course Ali Hogg, Equal Love convenor – the keynote of this rally was music. The Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Chorus, resplendent in formal (wedding?) wear, sang on the steps of the State Library during the warm up, and again with Rosco Elliott in a spectacular performance of ‘Equality’, his song written for the campaign. (See Karaoke version on YouTube here.) This performance was repeated at a halt on the march, at the intersection of Swanston and Bourke Streets, attracting attention from passers-by in away the rally itself may not have done.

As to the event as a whole, it would have to be admitted that numbers did not match those of some previous rallies – see for example reports on this site here and here, with accompanying links to YouTube videos – but at four to five hundred was still impressive. After ten years of campaigning a degree of fatigue would be understandable, but the timing may have contributed: the day was chosen to mark IDAHOBIT [International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Bi-phobia and Intersexism - formerly and elsewhere IDAHOT], whereas the rallies just referred to were linked to the anniversary of the amendment to the Marriage Act which banned same sex marriage. (There will be a rally to mark the tenth anniversary – Saturday 16 August, again at the State Library, see http://equallove.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69:10-year-anniversary-year-of-action.) Some also may have had to choose also between this and the Beat the Budget rally hastily called for the following day (see next post).

Australians say NO to cruel cosmetics – lunchtime at Melbourne GPO 19 April

Protesters hold placards forming words 'End Cruel Cosmetics' on steps of old GPO

We chanced on this protest today:

PRESS RELEASE
15th April 2014, Melbourne
Of Beauty and Bunnies

On this Easter Saturday in Melbourne, a demonstration has been organised by the Animal Justice Party in collaboration with the Greens, and a number of Animal Advocacy Groups to end testing on live animals for the cosmetics industry.

In March, Senator Lee Rhiannon of the Greens presented the End Cruel Cosmetics Bill 2014 to the National Senate to ban the manufacture, sale and import of cosmetics that have been tested on animals into Australia.

Getting this Bill passed in Australia (following on from the example set by the European Union, Israel and India) will be a fantastic achievement and is supported by Animals Australia, Animal Effect, Animal Liberation NSW, Animal Rights La Trobe, Be Cruelty Free, Choose Cruelty Free, Humane Research Australia, PETA Australia and the RSPCA.

Many of the groups and individuals who want to see this legislation passed will be gathering in the Bourke Street Mall (outside the GPO) from 12:30 until 14:30 on Saturday 19th April.

Nyree Walshe, campaign manager for the AJP says “Ironically it is Easter time, when we all celebrate the Easter Bunny as a symbol of new life, forgetting that the beauty products we use everyday have been tested on bunnies, causing them pain, suffering and death. So we will be in bunny ears, bunny suits, and bunny masks, to let the Government know we are HOPPING MAD* about cruel cosmetics and we want this Bill passed.”

*Note the initials of the retail store that has now occupied the building [our comment].

Apart from the Animal Justice Party, who organised the event, there were representatives of Choose Cruelty Free, and no doubt also of the Greens. It was fairly busy at the time, and with the theme of Easter Bunnies much in evidence around the city, a good choice of time and place.

We were not able to stay, but according to an entry of the Facebook page of Magda V-Stopanimalcruelty Moo, co-host of the event, there was to be another animal-cruelty related protest immediately following this one:

As part of the World Week for Animals in Laboratories, Australian Antivivisection Activists will be holding an information session/demo about vivisection in Australia. We aim to educate the general public on the millions of animals who are killed each year in Australia in needless and cruel experiments. Vivisection is an archaic scientific fraud and there are many valid scientific methods which are not receiving the proper funding, due to the wastage of funds on vivisection. Tax payers should be reminded of the cruelty and the lack of scientific validation of animal testing.
We will also be highlighting the plight of animals who are transported by Air France-KLM, who are the number 1 transporter of laboratory animals in the world and are responsible for the transport of tens of thousands of animals to cruel experiments across the globe. Air France is now the only major passenger airliner still participating in this cruel trade.

See https://www.facebook.com/events/661217570593281/

Some more photos, self-explanatory:

Protester holds placard with rabbits and blotched human face

Closeup showing large red sore on rabbit's sideCloseup of placard with list of barnds implicated

Walk for Justice for Refugees – Palm Sunday 13 April

Banner at head of march - Jusitice for Refugees

Growing community awareness of the reality of the current Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers has led to a revival of protest, with attendances at rallies not seen for years. Yesterday’s turnout in Melbourne was variously put at ‘as many as 3,000′ (ABC) to a rather extravagant ‘60,000 might be a conservative figure’ (post on the Walk for Justice Facebook page). Asked for my estimate by one of the organisers towards the end of the event I put the figure at ‘close to 10,000′, and there now seems to be fairly general agreement with this, at least on Facebook. Mainstream media, in so far as it reports the event at all, persists in putting it much lower. However that may be, it was an impressive demonstration.*

(The tag cloud doesn’t include items in the pre-2008 archive, so for anyone who might be interested or wants a reminder, here is a list of some earlier refugee rallies in Melbourne as reported here, including two on Palm Sunday:

2002
Rally and March for Refugees – 2 February
Rally for Refugees – Palm Sunday, 24 March
National Day of Action [for refugees] – 23 June
Tampa Day – Rally for Justice – 30 August

2003
World Refugee Day – 22 June

2004

Refugee Hope March – Palm Sunday, 4 April

World Refugee Day – 20 June
)

The format was conventional**: music to warm up, speakers, march, more speakers to wrap up. Music beforehand was provided by Celine Yap, aka Little Foot – folk, Kavisha Mazzella, and Victorian Trade Union Choir; other choirs were stationed at stages along the route of the march down Swanston Street to the gardens opposite the Arts Centre. Speakers included the Rev. Alistair McCrae, past president of the Uniting Church of Australia, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and three young asylum seekers, one of whom read a harrowing letter from a mother in detention… MC was Corinne Grant.

Views of the rally on the State Library lawns:

In the crowd at the State Library:

On the march:

At the end (we were not able to stay for the closing speeches, but left to the sound of Little Foot singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” …):

*Some media reports:

The Age

The Guardian
PressTV

** Though a new feature was the ringing of church bells following special services at the cathedrals and other churches – see the media release below:

City Church Bells to Ring out for Walkers on Palm Sunday

Across Australia in cities and regional towns Palm Sunday is being observed by Faith communities, Academics, School students and ordinary Australians who are deeply disturbed by the current treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

In Melbourne bells from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and St.Michael’s and St.Francis churches will ring out across the city as the WALK FOR JUSTICE FOR REFUGEES begins. The walk is organised by the Refugee Advocacy Network, working with a broad coalition of groups from across all ages, faiths and political persuasions.

Churchgoers from St. Paul’s, St. Patrick’s, Wesley Church and the Welsh Church will converge on the State Library to join the Walk. Church leaders, Professors and academics, Union leaders, School students, Community and Human Rights groups as well as politicians from the Greens and Labor parties will gather at the State Library. Choirs will serenade the walkers at the major intersections along Swanston Street.

Speaking on behalf of the Refugee Advocacy Network, Sister Brigid Arthur said: “We are walking for Justice for Refugees, because ‘stop the boats’ is not a policy worthy of Australia. It’s a cruel way of shirking our moral and legal obligations. People have a right to seek asylum in Australia regardless of how they travel here”.

Sister Brigid went on to say: “If we are genuinely concerned to stop people drowning at sea, then we must provide, safer ways for people to seek asylum in Australia. We must work closely with other countries not to stop the boats, but to protect vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution.”

Australians are calling for an end to the current policies. They are asking that we:

• Stop sending asylum seekers offshore and process claims for asylum here in Australia

• Close Australia’s detention centres

• Arrange for fair & speedy processing of Asylum Claims and Family Reunion

• Stop deporting people to places of danger

• Substantially increase our refugee quota

Walkers for Justice for Refugees will gather on Palm Sunday 13th April from 1.30pm for a 2.00 pm.
Start at the State Library, Cnr Swanston & La Trobe Streets Melbourne before setting off for Princes Bridge.

Contact Sister Brigid Arthur 0408101134
Marie Hapke 0409252673
Pamela Curr 0417517075

‘March in March’ – the Melbourne Rally and March, 16 March 2014

Melbourne responded to the callout (see http://marchinmarchaustralia.org/ and the Melbourne march Facebook page) with one of the largest rallies since the 2003 protests against the war in Iraq. Figures varied widely, as usual, but we are rather inclined to the upper end of the claims, or towards 50,000. It was also one of the most varied, and in recognition of this we are posting the largest selection of images so far on this site for one event. There is also a choice of thumbnail/gallery or slideshow, the latter comprising lower resolution copies. It may be in order to post a few separately:

Part of crowd at start of rally

A very small part of the rally at the State Library

Black and red flag

The holder of this flag told us it was 45 years old – dating back to moratorium days

Placard in German - 'These crimes, your blame'

International contribution

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No More Fukushimas! – Vigil 11 March 2014

To mark the third anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Nuclear Free Australia called a protest vigil at the old GPO on Bourke Street, Melbourne:
Banner on steps - Fukushima is Aus Uranium ...

The callout can be found here

It was a low key event, just a few banners and activists handing out leaflets, some of the time in the rain:

Protesters under umbrellas

It appeared that rather few of the passers-by were inclined to take the offered flyer: even in one case two young women who stopped long enough to take photos nevertheless turned it down. Needless to say there was no mainstream media coverage…

A few closeups:

Placard linkg Fukushima and Australian uranium

Placard - map of dispersal on caesium -137

Back of jacket worn by one person attending the protest

A few links that may be of interest:

An event organised in Melbourne shortly after the disaster was reported on this site here.

Updates on Fukushima can be found here.

Greenpeace have published videos telling the stories of some victims of the disaster here.

A photo essay by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, son of IPPNW co-president Tilman Ruff, can be found here.

There is some footage of a rally and march held in Melbourne on the first anniversary here.

Friends of the Earth Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy Collective was represented at the vigil. The ACE Facebook and web pages contain a wide range of material relating to the nuclear industry.

Close Manus Island – Rally for Refugees 1 March 2014

Overview of rally at State Library
[Note - this a stitched image and may show slight discrepancies at the seams]

As mentioned in the previous post, the Refugee Action Collective called a rally at the State Library today to protest at the treatment of asylum seekers, calling specifically for the closure of the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, but also an end to mandatory detention and an enquiry into the death of Reza Barati, as well as the resignation of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Attendance was probably not far short of 3000, enough to fill the lawns. Speakers included Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as well as former detainee Ali Bakhtiavandi and representatives of the Kurdish and Tamil communities. We shall leave others to report on the speeches and content ourselves with the following gallery of photos from the rally, plus a few from the ensuing march to Federation Square, which we were not able to follow to the end.
See the previous post for various links, including this one to the relevant Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/1398283463766506/

Ongoing Vigil for Asylum Seekers in Detention – Casselden Place 24 February – 25 March 2014

Protesters outside Department of Immigration Melbourne

In response to the murder of Kurdish Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati in the detention centre on Manus Island last week a small group of protesters has established an ongoing vigil outside the Department of Immigration office at Casselden Place. While determined to maintain the action regardless, they would welcome support and ideally for others to join them. There is a Facebook page here.

Tomorrow, Saturday 1 March, a rally is planned at the State Library at 1pm – see notice here.

The Facebook page of the Refugee Action Collective-Victoria carries links to background material and continuing coverage.

Another view of the vigil