Report of the Resistance to the visit by US President to Canberra Thursday 17 November 2011 by Graeme Dunstan of Peacebus.com
Good to be standing for peace with friends outside the Parliament, while Obama was inside beating a drum for war in the Pacific. All in all it was an evocative witness, few in number, good in feeling and dramatically artful.
Related: Barack Obama & Julia Gillard: We accuse you of complicity in war crimes | Greenleft - Humphrey McQueen - Obama’s marines not welcome here | Photos from Peter Boyle | Darwin protest against Obama and bases | Christine Assange speaks at the Canberra Rally
Most of the crowd, and many of the speakers, came from Sydney in a bus organised by the Sydney Stop the War Coalition. We cheered and clapped as they came parading up the hill to the protest area carrying flags and banners and chanting slogans. Chants included "Assange & Manning Ñ let them go! / People have the right to know!" and "From Kabul to Palestine! Occupation is a crime!" (with Congo sometimes replacing Kabul or Palestine).
It was an occasion of excellent public place oratory. In sync with the Occupy movements of the times, we occupied Capital Hill, Australia, and spoke out in dissent, open mike.
We cranked up at about 10.30 am, baked in the sun and went through to about 3 pm. So many different voices, all interesting.
Hooray for Christine Assange, Humphrey McQueen and our Congolese friends! Great stuff.
Here is what Humphrey McQueen had to say.
Here is the "We accuse" statement read out to the rally. Thanks to Jann Dark for getting this drafted.
Thank you to all those who held drones and banners and helped out generally. For me the joy and reward for the effort was to be with courageous and uplifting friends again, friends of good heart and open smiles, speaking out for justice and peace.
I made a good connections with my Nimbin HEMP friends and with Kim Sattler of UnionsACT, Humphrey McQueen and many others. Movement building.
Our witness also revealed a terrible truth about the parliamentary Greens and the US Alliance. The Greens were invited to come speak out against the US Alliance and US bases. None did. Some apologised, but most including Bob Brown's office did not even see fit to acknowledge the invitation.
The terrible truth is that Greens Leader and spokesperson on Defence, Senator Bob Brown, has turned his back on the anti war movement. He reckons a personal relationship with a one term President is more important than his relationship with the ongoing Australian antiwar movement.
As Humphrey McQueen reported, Brown wanted to meet Obama because he reckons Obama is smarter than Bush. There is truth in that. The war agenda of Bush did not deceive Brown, but Obama has shown himself smarter by deceiving Brown about his war making intentions.
As a consequence the corporate media all but ignored our anti US Alliance Speak Outs. We were lost in the Murdoch driven frenzy of Obama celebrity worship. One term PM hosts one term President is the ground zero truth. But here today, gone tomorrow is the nature of celebrity worship and creating distraction the way of the Murdoch media. By contrast the trauma left by the war making of this media endures across generations.
'Twould have been more effective done the SpeakOuts the day before, but how were we to know? Obama arrived in Canberra round midday and after military ceremony at the Austrailan War Memorial he came to the Parliament to be greeted with a military parade of ADFA cadets and a 21 gun salute. Plenty of media and plenty of movement at the front door of the Parliament, however far away.
But on 17 November he came to and left the Parliament by the backdoor and the vast courtyard space between us dissenters on the lawns and the front doors of the Parliament was, apart from a line of cops, empty all day.
The Nimbin HEMP Embassy guys got it right, stayed overnight in billets and camps. Imagine their delight when they arrived in the AAA (Authorised Assembly Area) on Wednesday morning 16 November with their inflatable Big Joint and the "Legalise. Yes we can-nabis!" banner which i painted for them in 2009.
All the major Tv news channels were set up at the lower end of Federation Mall with cameras facing to Parliament House, a backdrop for talking heads. Behind of them an open field, free from all other protesters. The image of that Obama banner was published in the Canberra Times 17 Nov. And elsewhere.
Visit Peacebus.com for photos of the protests in Canberra.