6 August 2011 at the GPO – Hiroshima Day vigil and more

Women in Black and Japanese for Peace banners on steps of GPO

Representatives of Japanese for Peace and ICAN held a low-key vigil on the steps of the old GPO in Bourke Street, displaying banners and handing out flyers for the afternoon’s Peace Concert at the State Library and postcards relating to the Future Fund’s investments in the nuclear weapons industry (see The Age 26 May 2011; there is an article on the same subject in the current issue of Friends of the Earth’s Chain Reaction). They shared the venue with members of Women in Black also holding a vigil calling for peace in Palestine:

Women in Black banner on steps of GPO

The main event of the day was of course the concert, and the vigil was a very small affair, but a good many passers-by took the offered leaflets or at least had their attention caught by the banners and the traditional Japanese cranes:

Japanese for Peace banner

Paper crane at foot of one of the pillars

One of the speakers listed for the Peace Concert was Felicity Hill of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,and a WILPF banner can be seen attracting attention here:

WILPF banner on steps of GPO

And the message ‘No More Hiroshimas’ was displayed in more than one way:

Placard and t-shirt with 'No More Hiroshimas' message


Nuclear Abolition Day – ‘Re-imagining the Bomb’ – ICAN action 25 June 2011

Peopl gathering around the easels

Melbourne’s contribution to ICAN-coordinated global actions for Nuclear Abolition Day took the form of a call to ‘Re-imagine the Bomb’ – people were invited to convert an image of a bomb into something else using pen, crayon or spray can …

Easel on Princes Bridge with poster explaining the invitation

Take-up was rather slow at first. Many of the passers-by in the first half-hour or so were on their way to the MCG and couldn’t afford to more than take a quick look, but by the end there was quite a collection, several contributed by young artists:

Young girl drawing
Same girl taking a break for thought

This sometimes involved a high degree of concentration:

Young boy drawing, tongue sticking out, watch by brother and mum ...

This also was done by a young lad:

Bomb converted into part of clock tower of church

This ‘nukulele’ was another contribution:

Bomb-shaped ukelele decorated with flowers

Campaign Director Tim Wright was there to set an example, as this sequence shows:

Beginning the transformation
Stage 2 - the bomb has become a car ...

Adding the driver ...

Finished work - two cars with house and trees, clouds ... and cat

More artists at work:

Two adults at the easels

And some more of the finished articles:

Bomb converted to cartoon figureBomb converted to mother holding hands with children on either side
Bomb becomes angelBomb as fish
Bomb as deep-sea diverBomb as end of tunnel

Visit http://www.icanw.org.au/

Vigil for Japan, 17 March 2011

ICAN (The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) along with Japanese for Peace and MAPW (Medical Association for Prevention of War) organised a candlelight vigil outside the old GPO in Melbourne ‘to honour the victims of this terrible tragedy, and to show our concern for the safety of those who have been exposed to radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear power plant’.

It was not originally intended to have formal speakers, but in the event there were several addresses: a member of JFP read letter from another member resident in Kew, Melbourne, whose home town in Japan had been destroyed by the tsunami. She had been trying to get news of relatives there, and although eventually successful in determining that they were alright, was herself still too distressed to attend the vigil. Instead, she had sent the letter [text to follow when available]. Other speakers were representatives of MAPW – the Medical Association for the Prevention of War – the Railways Union, Friends of the Earth, and ICAN, whose Campaign Director Tim Wright was MC.

There is a report by Takver on Melbourne Indymedia, and more photos on Takver’s Flickr Photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/takver/sets/72157626160141551/)

JFP member reading letter

Reading the letter

Origami cranes and candles on steps leading from GPO

Origami cranes and candles

Speaker from MAPW

MAPW speaker: The bottom line is, the take-home message is, there is no safe level of radiation …
See also MAPW media release

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth speaking

Jim Green, FoE spokesperson on nuclear matters, summarised the situation as far as that was possible on the sometimes contradictory information being released. He mentioned various plausible scenarios, ranging from the best, that the situation could be brought under control, with minimum human exposure to radiation following the mass evacuations, all the way to the nightmare of self-sustaining chain reactions … “We don’t know how this is going to play out, but either way it’s a disaster…” He suggested however that it was not too early to start drawing lessons for the future: “TEPCO is a company with a track record of accidents, of falsifying safety data and of mishandling earthquake situations …” Amongst other things, in 1984 the company had had to implement an emergency shutdown at one of its reactors and had kept it secret for 25 years… Finally, he raised the matter of Australia’s culpability in this matter, it having been well aware of TEPCO’s record ‘and the unwillingness of the Japanese government to hold these utilities to account … but [having] been perfectly willing to allow uranium sales to proceed from Australia to Japan…’. He named BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as also culpable, and ended by urging everyone to get involved in the quest to make the world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. See also FoE media release Spinning Fukushima.

Tomohiro Matsuoka, Japanese for Peace, speaking

The issue of Australia’s responsibility was echoed by another speaker from Japanese for Peace, Tomohiro Matsuoka: Australia was related to this disaster, because Australia and Canada were the two largest suppliers of uranium to the Tokyo Electric Power Company ‘so this radioactive material spreading from Fukushima actually originates from Australia. So we must stop this export of uranium to overseas … if you are serious about this disaster.’

Another speaker was Victor Moore of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, pledging solidarity with workers affected by the disasters: ‘this is a very sombre occasion, and ourhearts go out to [those] directly affected. This is going to be a very long, sustained campaign in terms of rebuilding Japan, in terms of ensuring that those who don’t have wealth in Japan are looked after, those that are homeless, those that are poor, those that aren’t part of the rich are looked after in Japan, and unfortunately at the moment those are the ones who are most greatly affected …’

Victor Moore of the Rail union

More images:

Banner of Japanese for Peace

On the steps of the GPO

Another view of same

Anti-nuclear campaigners with dog

International Peace Day in Melbourne, 21 September – 2, Retire the Bomb!

Elderly 'bomb' with placard - 65 years on it's time to retire the bomb

ICAN in Melbourne marked the day at the State Library with a mock retirement party for the Bomb, which was also an opportunity for people to add their video messages to the One Million Pleas campaign.

"Bomb" handing out booklets

The decidedly superannuated-looking bomb spent much of the time on a convenient couch next to a table with tea things, but at intervals got up to help distribute a recently published ICAN booklet entitled ‘The Case Against Nuclear Weapons’(also viewable online – there is a copy next to the teapot here –

Table with tea things

– as well as obliging passers-by and children by posing for photos:

"Bomb" seated, with friends

Seated with young woman

One young woman was wearing a notice that it was her birthday, and offering free hugs:

Seated with 'birthday girl'

Hugging the Bomb

‘He’ was particularly popular with the children:

"Bomb" towering over group of children

Visit http://www.icanw.org.au

International Peace Day in Melbourne, 21 September – 1, Billboard Launch at Federation Square

Train arriving - billboard in background

What looks at first to be rather cryptic graffiti is in fact a billboard carrying an entry in a young girl’s diary from 1972, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Artist Kathleen McCann, who was responsible for the performance Who By Fire reported here on 4 June, negotiated with the management of Federation Square to display the billboard on Russell Street near the intersection with Flinders Street – where it is clearly visible from passing trains as well as the road.

the billboard in closeup


The diary was kept by her sister, then nine years old, and contains besides the featured entry others such as “today there was five fires…”, “We went to the doctors for our injection There was alot of explosions tonight”, “today was a bloody sunday 13 people were murderded by the soldiers”. (Facsimiles from her sister’s diary are used in Kathleen McCann’s contribution to the series of poster published by Breakdown Press under the title ‘Peace Posters’.

The diary- open at the page

THe diary - open at the page

Kathleen with the diary- Dave Sweeney of ACF looks on

Kathleen with the diary- Dave Sweeney of ACF looks on

Today was chosen to “launch” the billboard, and the artist can be seen here with her parents and fellow activists as well as a representative of the management. There is an AVANTcard of the featured diary entry, and the Peace Posters are obtainable from the publisher – email distro@breakdownpress.org.

Artist with family and others at the launch

Artist with family and others at the launch

There was also the option of a stamp to mark the occasion:

Arm with diary entry ink-stamped - billboard in background

Another view, with MCG and Rod Laver Arena in background

Another view, with MCG and Rod Laver Arena in background

Hiroshima Day in Melbourne – 6 August

Hiroshoma Day banner outside Young and Jackson

Evening rush-hour crowds at the Flinders Street/Swanston Street intersection were met by a large banner yesterday reminding them of the 45th anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima with its attendant loss of life. The event was organised by Friends of the Earth’s ACE (Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy) collective, who were also promoting the new Choose Nuclear Free website, while handing out leaflets inviting people to take part in ICAN‘s Million Pleas campaign…
The banner made a circuit or two of the intersection before making its way partly across Princes Bridge before returning to its starting point under the clocks of Flinders Street station, a spot shared with campaigners for the Socialist Alliance, including Senate candidate Sharon Firebrace.

Banner crossing Flinders Street

Crossing Flinders Street

With Federation Square behind

Passing Federation Square

Crossing Princes Bridge

On Princes Bridge

Banner hanging from bridge

From Princes Bridge

Crossing back to the station

On the way back to the station

Placard - what to do ... kiss your children goodbye

Placard at the station

Socialist Alliance stall

The Socialist Alliance stall

Palm Sunday Peace Rally and March – 5 April

Head of march down Elizabeth Street

Head of march down Elizabeth Street

Last year Palm Sunday fell on 16 March, and the temperature was over 40 degrees; this year the mercury struggled in the high teens, and prayers for rain were perhaps untimely answered. However, there were still many sufficiently committed to the cause of peace and the related issue of abolishing nuclear weapons to make the effort, and the shopping crowds in Elizabeth Street and the Bourke Street Mall were obviously impressed by the message.
This year the rally proper was preceded by an ecumenical service outside the State Library, focussing on the present-day relevance of the original Palm Sunday – the event was sponsored by the Victorian Council of Churches and the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament:

The ecumenical service before the rally and march

The ecumenical service before the rally and march

During the service

During the service

A short break between the service and the rally was the cue for hiphop artists the Ringwood Boiz:

Ringwood Boiz in action

Ringwood Boiz in action

MC for the day was Jessica Morrison of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) (http://www.mapw.org.au/media-profile/ms-jessica-morrison):

Jessica Morrison was MC

Jessica Morrison was MC

Among the speakers she introduced were Reem Yunis from Palestine:

Speaker representing the people of Palestine

Speaker representing the people of Palestine

Rahmat Amiri from Afghanistan:

Speaker representing the people of Afghanistan

Speaker representing the people of Afghanistan

Chip Henriss, Australian Army veteran:

Army veteran condemning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Army veteran condemning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

(There is a YouTube video of Chip speaking – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vlhJBkUrgY)

Finally, from ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) Dr Ruth Mitchell:

Dr Ruth Mitchell of ICAN

Dr Ruth Mitchell of ICAN

(There is a YouTube video of Dr Mitchell’s speech – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-s4-qZsMb8)

In the crowd there were representatives of Japanese for Peace:

Banner of Japanese for Peace

Banner of Japanese for Peace

A flyer being distributed advertised upcoming events – an Australia-Japan Peace forum on 23 May, and a Peace Concert on 8 August. Details are promised soon on the JfP website: http://www.jfp.or.au, email info [at] jfp.org.au

Also spotted in the crowd:

"Hearts" in the crowd

After the speeches the rally set off along LaTrobe Street:

March in LaTrobe Street

March in LaTrobe Street

MAPW in LaTrobe Street

MAPW in LaTrobe Street

Bringing up the rear in LaTrobe Street

Bringing up the rear in LaTrobe Street

The march ended in the Bourke Street Mall, where Jessica read through a list of current conflicts where people are dying, and members of the rally successively lay down in a symbolic “die-in” as each war was called:

"Die-in" - beginning

"Die-in" - continued

"Die-in" - completed

There is a report with links by Takver on Sydney Indymedia.

More information: