150,000 protest war in Melbourne, Australia

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Feb 14 14:12:06 MST 2003

AP. 14 February 2003. At least 150,000 demonstrate in Melbourne to
protest possible war with Iraq.

MELBOURNE -- At least 150,000 people packed streets in Melbourne on
Friday to protest against the looming war with Iraq and Australia's
possible involvement in a U.S.-led assault.

Police estimated 150,000 people participated, while organizers put the
crowd at 200,000, making it the biggest peace protest in the country
since marches 30 years ago against the Vietnam War in which Australian
troops fought alongside U.S. forces.

Friday's march was the first in a series of demonstrations planned in
Australia in the coming days. Similar peace rallies were scheduled
across the world over the weekend.

Greens Senator Bob Brown said the size of the crowd showed Prime
Minister John Howard did not have a mandate to take Australia to war
against Iraq.

"This is a huge statement by the people of Melbourne, and the people of
Australia to John Howard: that he's gone the wrong way and should turn
around," Brown told the crowd. "The people of Australia don't see this
as our war."

The Melbourne rally started with the eerie sound of mock air raid sirens
symbolizing air attacks on Baghdad.

Protesters gathered outside the State Library waving placards with
slogans including: "No War for Oil" and "Howard's End," a reference to
the potentially damaging political fallout for Howard of joining a
U.S.-led strike on Iraq despite widespread public opposition to any
Australian involvement without a U.N. mandate.

"It is an amazing scene here with you today in a show of solidarity to
send a strong message to Prime Minister Howard and the Australian
government that Australians don't want war," Democrat Sen. Natasha Stott
Despoja told the huge crowd.

The protest, organized by student groups, unions and churches, was to
end later Friday with a music concert in central Melbourne.

There were no reports of trouble in the large crowd.

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