ON THE STREETS OF SYDNEY
Yesterday morning Victoria and I joined a protest by the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign in Sydney. We met at a park where people dressed themselves in white with white masks and carried signs calling themselves the Invisibles since the Australian corporate media refuses to cover their protests against the growing militarization of their country.
As we walked in single file through the busy Saturday morning streets leaflets were handed to people, cars honked, a bus driver flashed us the peace sign, and we got a nice reaction from the public. We ended up at city hall and a sound system was waiting for us as more people joined the protest. While waiting I went to the microphone and sang "Gonna lay down my sword and shield, down by the riverside." The others joined in with me.
Eventually I spoke to the assembled (which grew larger as people paused on the side walk to listen) and Victoria followed me to speak. She first sang an indigenous song from Guam and then an elected official from the Green Party made a fine speech as well.
The leaflet that was handed to the public included these words:
More than 80% of Australians want less money spent on the military. About 70% did not want Australia involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. But Liberal and Labor governments ignore our voices for peace and justice.A send-off dinner for Victoria and I was held later in the evening with a dozen members from various peace groups joining us. We had a lively discussion about non-violence, organizing strategies, Australian politics, and more over fine Middle Eastern food in a basement room of a local Lebanese restaurant.
The Invisibles, dressed in white and masked, symbolise the silent majority. We will not be silenced!
We march to demand:
As former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said: It's time Australia stood up and learned to be independent.
- No US Marines in Darwin
- No US war fighting and spy bases on our land
- No US drone base on the Cocos Island
- No more war games intended to teach Aussie soldiers to fight in more shameful US wars
- No more destruction of our precious environment by military exercises such as the four bombs dropped by US planes in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
- No increased US warship and military plane visits to Australia
- A cut to the massive military budget of $25 billion a year
- Australia must not become a US military base and a launch site for US wars in our region
Today I head to the airport for the long trip home. I fly to Dallas and then to Boston where I catch a bus back to Maine. The trip will take me a full day.
It was a great trip to the Pacific and I am deeply grateful to all of my wonderful hosts in Hawaii, the Philippines and now here in Australia where Denis Doherty and Hannah Middleton saw that Victoria and I were given excellent treatment.