About 100 people turned up outside the US Embassy in Melbourne, last Friday night, to protest against the continuing occupation of Iraq. The demonstration was organised by the Socialist Party and was a slightly different format to the usual anti-war protests seen in Australia.
A large flat bed truck was used as a stage and it was parked only meters outside the front doors of the building. Four live bands played from the truck, including The Defiance Report, The Urviles, Left Hand Cuts Right and a high school band, the Early Nerd Specials.
All of the bands made political statements and comments during their sets and, in between, Socialist Party members spoke. SP Organiser, Anthony Main, outlined why the imperialist powers invaded and occupied Iraq and offered a class-based, non-sectarian and secular socialist alternative for the Iraqi masses and the anti-war movement.
Greg Bradshaw linked the issue to the Australian government’s new repressive ‘anti-terror laws’. Kylie McGregor made the point that Australian Prime Minister John Howard was not just attacking working people in Iraq but also working people in his own back yard. Kylie urged the crowd to attend a mass workers’ rally on 15 November to protest against Howard’s new Industrial Relations laws, which are an unprecedented attack on workers’ rights and conditions. SP Councillor, Steve Jolly, also spoke at the US Embassy protest, and read out a message of solidarity from US anti-war activists.
The event was organised in the lead up to a weekend of protests across Australia against the war and occupation. SP members did many interviews in the media about the event and managed to get in quite a few plugs for the mass demonstrations.
The police, including four on horseback, turned out for the SP lobby of the US Embassy. A sign of the times was police using a sniffer dog to check out the SP truck for explosives!
While our protest action was a modest affair it was important because most of those who attended were youth. SP will continue to organise these sorts of actions, as a way of connecting working class youth with socialist politics.