Drones over the Australian Parliament while US President Obama is inside talking up war in the Pacific, 17 November 2011

Speaking out against Obama Wars

Report of the Resistance to the visit by US President to Canberra
Thursday 17 November 2011

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.

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 - 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.

Apart from my drones and banners and the Nimbin HEMP Embassy's Big Joint, the most dramatic presence was the contingent from the Congolese Community of Australia speaking out against the terrible imperial oppression (plunder of resources, rape and civil war) their people have suffered and continue to suffer.

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.

Spruiking dissent outside the Parliament, 17 November 2011. Top: Christine Assange, a woman from the Congolese Community of Australia bewailing rape as a weapon of the colonisers, a young woman from the Occupy movement passionate about social justice, bottom the group shot and above Humphrey McQueen let's rip. Here is what he had to say.

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.

HEMP Embassy crew on parade, 16 November 2011. Below an image of the first edition Obama banner that went worldwide. This from the Deccan Chronicle, Hyderbad, India.

But for us, not to be. We didn't know the itinerary till a couple of days before; only the date and time of the address in the Parliament was the only known when the Sydney bus trip was announced. Seems the Obama media managers outwitted us.

But then there is social media and blogs to consider. The banners and drones provided lots of great camera shots. And these will travel far. Please share your pix.

Setting up the SpeakOuts was made difficult by decisions of the Parliamentary precinct authority, the so called Presiding Officers, and i reckon consciously so.

Cops and their order-givers talk big about freedom of speech and assembly, but in deed they treat protesters as deviants for whom special rules apply. They discriminate between citizens and protesters, they corral us and our protest actions and watch over us like armed zoo keepers in boots and fluoro vests.

Now I have done many a protest action past in the AAA but never before had so many obstacles created for me. Maybe i should take this as a compliment - the US security agents and their Oz lackeys are taking Peacebus seriously enough to give it special consideration.

But these curtailments irk me to my Southern Cross, rebel core.

On two issues in particular. First I was informed on Monday, after weeks of talk with AFP Protection Intelligence agents (them that negotiate state visits, protests and crowd events generally), that no vehicles would be permitted in the AAA.

It turns out that this meant no protest vehicles. Okay for media vehicles but not protest vehicles. And since there was no other purpose-fitted protest vehicles seeking to be there, this meant specifically no Peacebus and no Peacebus PA.

The second issue was star pickets to hold the banners and drones.

Holding off till after Obama had departed the Parliament and seeing the banners sagging as their bearers wilted in the sun, i went off and fetched some star pickets and the driver to give them some hands free relief.

No sooner tied up than challenged by a duty Sergeant. On previous occasions when star pickets have been used to support banner rigs, the Parliamentary cops have been relaxed. No harm done, soon over, not worth the trouble.

But this armed zookeeper took personal exception and ordered them withdrawn. When i challenged him with "What are you going to do about it?", he talked of making arrests and seized the Assange banner which i was in the act of securing.

I held fast and called for help. Good for the heart of this old man to see how quickly friends rallied to defend the colours.

No so pleasing to see the star pickets soon removed by friends whose idea of negotiating with cops is to roll on back with tail between legs like a submissive dog.

People would rather hold the banners than contest rights of assembly with the cops, i was told. Well they did for a while but before the end of the day the banners were on the ground.

"Let's get back to the SpeakOut," voices said.

But i heard one voice say: "This is the People's Parliament. The constitution puts the People above the Parliament. We are the people. This is our Parliament."

Aint it the truth!

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly means just that: FREE!

Free to be.

It asks no permits and it pays no dues. But only for the brave!

Anyway Peacebus is on the road again heading to Victoria and Ballarat for the commemoration of the 158th anniversary of the Eureka rebellion. Remembering and invoking the fiery spirit of the ancestors.

Graeme Dunstan
18 November 2011

Above Kellie Tranter, journalist and lawyer from Newcastle, showing style at the mike. Here is the report she posted to The Drum

Above Kim Sattler from UnionsACT. An long time anti uranium campaigner, great to have her support for the Obama SpeakOut. UnionsACT provided the PA after the cops banned Peacebus and its PA. She's a mover, great to work with.


Paul Benedek's YouTube

Pip Hinman's YouTube slideshow

Obama visit media

Past campaigns of Peacebus.com

Peacebus.com homepage

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