Meryn, Juniper, and I drove 200 miles to participate in the peace rally in downtown Melbourne yesterday. We called some friends in Melbourne about it the night before and few knew of it so we expected a small turnout. Surprise -- it was the largest in their history -- exceeded 100,000 people. (See below for front page coverage in Melbourne's leading newspaper.)
It was probably the first of this weekend's worldwide demonstrations and we hope will set a trend. We ask you to contribute however you can to help bring the US government's madness back into reality. The media can no longer ignore what so many people believe (80+% of Australians do not support John Howard's illegal decision to send 2000 troops to the Gulf and he was censured for it in the Parliament last week -- the first ever in 102 years. We all pledged to do something each day to foster peace. This email is today's effort.
Thanks, J, M, and J
To The Call For Peace
More than 100,000 people - believed to be Melbourne's largest peace rally - marched through the city yesterday to protest against a war on Iraq.
Police spokeswoman Senior Constable Julie-Anne Newman said the demonstration was "so big" that it was difficult to estimate the size of the crowd.
But she said it was "in excess of 100,000".
At 5.45pm Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown said organisers had advised him the crowd was between 100,000-200,000, with more still arriving.
In 1970, at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, an estimated 100,000 sat down in Collins Street in what was regarded as the city's biggest peace rally.
The convenor of the anti-Vietnam war marches, Dr Jim Cairns, joined yesterday's rally and passed organisers a note of solidarity. Former State Labor MP and founder of the Save Our Sons movement, Jean McLean, said last night's rally was definitely larger than the Vietnam marches she helped organise.
Organiser Damien Lawson said: "As far as the eye can see, I can see people all the way up Swanston Street to the north and up the other end of Swanston Street I can see people coming this way. The protest is enormous. This protest is huge."
The rally was the first of seven to be held around Australia, with six others scheduled for the weekend.
Senator Brown called on Prime Minister John Howard to bring back Australian ships that have already left for the Persian Gulf.
"Turn the ships around, bring our 2000 Australians good and true home," he said.
"This is President Bush's war, this is Tony Blair's war, but this is not Australia's war," he said.
Democrat senator Natasha Stott Despoja told the rally that America was the greatest possessor of weapons of mass destruction and the only country to use nuclear weapons during a war.
"We know war is bloodshed. It is not the answer."
Former Midnight Oil singer and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation Peter Garrett said: "I'm proud of my fellow Australians for coming out on the street and expressing themselves tonight."