Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Sydney Protest Against The War

I attended the Sydney Palm Sunday rally in the North of Hyde Park this afternoon with 1-3,000 others (depending on who you believe). Several speakers (an Aboriginal activist, Shirley; Sister Susan Connelly; Kerry Nettle of the Greens, and a unionist whose name I can't remember) made rousing speeches, then it was time to do a short march around 4 blocks of Sydney real estate.

(C) Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The march headed out of the park and down Park St, right onto to George St, right into King St, right into Elizabeth St and then back into the park for some more speeches.

By the end of the march, "the mob" was in strong voice, shouting the chants: "End the occupation, Troops Out Now!" or "What do we want? Troops Out! When do we want it? Now!".

Once the march had finished there was a strong speech by John Pilger who lambasted the complicity of the media and the Australia Labor Party. Then Stephen Hopper and Mamdouh and Maha Habib appeared on stage to a long-lasting standing ovation by everyone present. Habib expressed his thanks for the people of Australia who had campaigned for his release and urged people to not forget the plight of David Hicks.

Stephen Hopper gave an interesting speech which took aim at the history of American imperialism and the appalling treatment meted out to people such as Habib. It was a curious speech for this kind of rally - it was more a lecture about US history than the typical rousing recital of anti-war rhetoric. His manner of speech was a little halting, but it was interesting to listen to and he left listeners in no doubt about what he thinks about the morality of the current US, UK and Australian governments.


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