A small group of supporters gathered at the Melbourne Magistrates’ court at lunchtime today to show support for an independent film maker appearing in court in Sydney to answer charges of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. For an account of the circumstances, see this posting on Sydney Indymedia –
As in previous years, activists from the FairWear anti-sweatshop campaign put on their Santa hats and treated shoppers to some slightly modified carols – in this case in the Bourke Street Mall, outside the old GPO building, next to the Myer store. The focus this year was children’s wear label Big by Fiona Scanlan. The Victorian Trades Union Choir and members of the (now defunct?) John Howard Ladies Auxiliary Fan Club boosted the numbers, and as usual, a few passers-by stopped to join in the fun.
For some past performances, see for example: http://melbourneprotests.bravehost.com/7dec01/7dec01.html http://melbourneprotests.bravehost.com/html/16dec04/16dec04.html,
There is video of the 2007 ‘service’ on EngageMedia:
(Note that the caption at the start of the video initially gave the date incorrectly as 13 December – this has now been corrected)
“Howard’s gone, we voted for change, now let’s bring all the troops home!” was the heading for a rally called by Melbourne-based Unity for Peace (http://www.unityforpeace.org/) to mark International Human Rights Day.
The event followed the traditional format of a rally at the State Library followed by a march through the city, in this case ending at the GPO in Bourke Street, which was crowded with shoppers and sightseers queueing to view the Myer windows …
– thus providing a good opportunity to spread the message.
Speakers at the State Library were introduced by David Glanz of Unity for Peace, and included representatives of the Greens and the Union movement, reflecting these groups’ vital role in the removal of the Howard Government, and Civil Rights Defence (http://www.civilrightsdefence.org/), reminding us of another area where the incoming administration has to be reminded of its responsibilities to freedom and democracy. Finally, Anita from the Alliance for Indigenous Self-Determination drew attention to Australia’s longest-standing war, the war on the original inhabitants, recently entered on a new phase with the sending of troops into the Northern Territory on the pretext of child-protection; she urged people to attend a public forum on the issue on Monday 10 Dec (the actual date of Human Rights Day) at the Melbourne Town Hall (http://uriohau.blogspot.com/2007/11/world-human-rights-day-public-forum.html) and also spoke of the current campaign by local activists to reclaim the old Victorian Aboriginal Health Service building in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
A similar rally was held in Sydney (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/09/2113724.htm) and the Sydney Morning Herald carried the Unity for Peace media release (http://news.smh.com.au/rally-today-to-bring-iraq-troops-home/20071209-1fw4.html), but the media were not much in evidence on the day.
Speakout at the State Library
(These photos are frames from video footage, so not the best …)
Flanked by banners calling for “A world without sexual assault” and the declaration “Consent is Asking & Listening, Verbally and Non-verbally” people gathered in a large circle on the lawns outside the State Library to share feelings and experiences.
The callout which brought them together, as well as much else, can be found on the website:
http://communitiesresponsetosexualassault.wordpress.com/ – here is part of it:
“We want a day of action calling for community response to sexual assault. We are calling for support for survivors of sexual assault, and a process of community response that prioritises their needs, safety and healing. We are calling for processes that try to change the underlying myths and power dynamics that lead to assault, before it happens. We want processes that deal with perpetrators in a way that challenges their beliefs and behaviours, and gets them to take responsibility for their actions and for trying to change.
“This day is about healing and empowerment of survivors and supporters. It is about saying that dealing with sexual assault is important, and that we all need to work together in our communities to make that happen.”
Considering the importance of the issues the response of Melbourne’s activist community woud have to be described as disappointing, though it seemed from the words of one speaker at least that she was not surprised, with hard words indeed for the ‘anarchist and punk’ community. Proceedings began – after a lunch provided by the wonderful people from Food not Bombs –
with some of the organisers reading a statement, followed by an open mic for those who wished to share their stories or viewpoints:
and ended with a group reading based on Andrea Dworkin’s 1983 address “I Want a Twenty-Four Hour-Truce During Which There Is No Rape,” (www.icasa.org/uploads/dworkin.doc).
More later, hopefully with video.
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13 December – video now on EngageMedia: