Global Day of Action for Peace – 20 March

Banner at head of march: No War on Iraq

From Victorian Peace Network:

A year ago, on 20 March 2003, devastating aerial bombing heralded an illegal, and unnecessary war on the people of Iraq. A year later, the war and the killing goes on. On 20 March 2004, people around the world will rally in a Global Day of Action to say no to the continuing occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies, including Australia.

With over 800 Australian soldiers still deployed, we share responsibility for the mounting death toll and the chaos in Iraq. Hospital, schools, water and electricity are in a critical mess, and unemployment is estimated at between 50 and 80 per cent, far worse than before this war. Depleted uranium may affect the health of succeeding generations in Iraq.

George Bush’s advisers had for a decade planned this war for oil. President Bush signed a formal order for war in February 2002. “Weapons of mass destruction” was a deception – an excuse because even Bush’s allies did not want to publicly support his real motive of “regime change ”.

Saddam Hussein has been removed from power at the cost of almost ten thousand Iraqi civilian lives, the ruination of the economy, and the destruction of previously accepted standards of international law, especially the inadmissibility of nations invading other nations unless under immediate threat. Meanwhile other despots considered friends of the United States, from Burma to Saudi Arabia, from Uzbekistan to Pakistan, are armed and supported.

Today, the people of Iraq are subjected to an illegal occupation by the invading forces, protecting the interests of corporations who are benefiting from the privatisation of Iraq’s economy – a policy supported by the American-appointed puppet “government ” without any right of the people of Iraq to say whether they want their economy sold to foreigners!

The military occupation of Iraq, and opposition to the occupation, have exacerbated regional and ethnic tensions that may degenerate into a full-scale civil war. The people of Iraq want democracy, yet late last year the US occupation authorities refused resources to conduct a census, the basis for new electoral rolls. Now they say elections can’t be held because there are no rolls! They talk democracy, but the occupation forces have opposed every concrete proposal for elections
sooner rather than later, instead pushing on with plans for “tribal ” appointments and “indirect ” committees!

The Victorian Peace Network believes that the people of Iraq have the right to determine their own future, free of outside influence. Its time to end the occupation, which is the cause of Iraq’s present catastrophe and not its solution.

Join us on March 20 to call for democracy, justice and peace in Iraq.

[The website of the Victorian Peace Network, as already mentioned, is no longer online, but is archived in part here. Reports on Melbourne Indymedia and ABC Online have not proved recoverable at time of this posting. There is, however, a brief mention of the Melbourne rally in a survey of the day’s actions by Pip Hinman in Green Left Weekly.]

One of the speakers at the Melbourne rally was Terry Hicks, father of David Hicks, who is currently being held by the US in their concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As reported in The Age (Sunday 21 March, page 10), Mr Hicks told how his son was being denied access to sunlight and allowed only two 15-minute exercise periods a week in the lead-up to eventual laying of charges against him.

Protesters and dog with placard: Wrong Howard

All age groups were represented, and more than one species, all agreed on one thing

Moreland Peace Group banner

Many local groups sent contingents, including this one from Moreland

The street sign says to Keep Left

Marching up Bourke Street towards Spring Street (note the street sign…)

FoE banner

Other groups included Friends of the Earth…

Greenpeace banner

and Greenpeace

RAC banner: Freedom not Detention

… and the Refugee Action Collective

At the Treasury Gardens there was a flag burning (opinions divided about this):

People gathered around burning of US flag

But some voiced their position in other ways:

Man wearing monster 'top hat' with slogan J. Coward etc

Clown in US colours

Next to the Socialist Worker stall there was an open invitation to knock Howard off his pedestal with a well-aimed kick of a beachball:

Image of Howard on pile of cardboard boxes