Forces of Peace warn Australian PM

Kim Bullimore k_bullimore at
Wed Feb 12 21:36:30 MST 2003

Forces of peace warn PM of backlash
February 13 2003, Sydney Morning Herald

Anti-war demonstrators have warned Prime Minister John Howard to prepare
himself for an electoral backlash as up to 200,000 Australians prepare for
peace protests this weekend.

International and nationwide protests against the war on Iraq start tomorrow
and will range from prayer meetings to huge public marches.

Walk Against War Coalition spokesman Bruce Childs said Mr Howard should pay
heed to the thousands of ordinary people expected to join the

Mr Childs said organisers could not keep up with demand for pamphlets and
posters about the protests.

"It's not the traditional marchers, it's people who have never marched
before," said Mr Childs, a former Labor senator.

"And that's what should worry him (Mr Howard) - ordinary people who are
feeling it - and the majority will be women, because they instinctively feel
it's getting mad.

"I think women see the boys' games of (US) President (George) Bush and him
being bellicose and they understand little boys."

The first of the international rallies will kick off in Melbourne at 5pm
tomorrow (AEDT) at the Victorian State Library.

Victorian Peace Network spokesman Jacob Grech said organisers expected at
least 80,000 protesters would rally under the banner "Make Love Not War",
marking St Valentine's Day.

Australian Conservation Foundation president Peter Garrett would make his
first public appearance at the rally since leaving his band Midnight Oil,
joined by Victorian Trades Hall secretary Leigh Hubbard among others.

In Sydney, up to 100,000 are expected to attend a mass rally against the war
at noon on Sunday in Sydney's Hyde Park, followed by a march around the

Speakers there will include federal Greens leader Bob Brown, federal Labor
heavyweight Laurie Brereton, journalist John Pilger and actor John Howard.

And unions in South Australia today pledged to join a rally against war with
Iraq in Adelaide on Sunday.

United Trades and Labor Council (UTLC) state secretary Janet Giles said tens
of thousands of people were expected to take part in the rally, to start at
Victoria Square in the city centre and march to parliament house.

"Ordinary citizens can stop John Howard's rush to war," she said.

"If enough of us say 'no war', he must listen."

Marches and demonstrations are also planned for Brisbane on Sunday, Perth on
Saturday, Darwin on Sunday, Hobart on Saturday, and in Canberra today and

Regional cities with actions planned include Alice Springs, Launceston,
Lismore, Mildura and Rockhampton.

Five thousand people marched through Wollongong last Saturday.

Churches will also hold a day of prayers for peace on Sunday, NSW Ecumenical
Council executive secretary Ray Williamson said.

He called on Mr Howard to support the churches in the day of prayer and in
questioning Mr Bush's apparent determination to go to war.

"Australia seems to be plunging headlong into a war in the Middle East
without first exhausting every available solution by peaceful means," Rev Dr
Williamson said.


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