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Talks and tanks - Delivering Raed's Iraqi Road Map

Talks and tanks - Delivering Raed's Iraqi Road Map


The day after the 20,000 plus Hikoi took over Wellington streets a very much smaller, but still significant protest took place in Thorndon.

Constantly photographed by security guards, and under the eyes of at least eight policemen ,seven members of Peace Action Wellington stood for an hour outside the American Embassy. The activists held up large coloured photos of recent US atrocities in Iraq, while inside, US Ambassador Charles Swindells hosted a public videoconference to discuss the war on Iraq with author Michael O’Hanlon.

A small trickle of diplomats, journalists and grim looking ladies and gentlemen in suits presented themselves at the Embassy's locked gate to enter the function.

Four embassy security and 2 policemen checked the photo ID and credentials of every visitor before they were admitted through the eight foot high spike topped steel fence. One woman's papers were not sufficiently in order and she was turned away. Another member of the public previously denied a seat at the public videoconference was peace activist Valerie Morse.

US Embassy staff member William J. Millman claimed Morse had " clearly demonstrated antipathy toward freedom of speech and the decencies of rational debate". These comments are in reference to a speech to be delivered by US Ambassador Charles Swindells at VUW last year which was shouted down by a number of concerned citizens. Welcomed in after obediently showing their photos, turning off their cell phones and refusing antiwar leaflets were National's Lockwood Smith and wannabe ACT leader Ken Shirley.

Peace activists outside the embassy gate offered guest and passers by leaflets demanding "US out of Iraq now" "New Zealand government - end all support for the destructive path that Howard, Blair and Bush have chose."

Also distributed was the "Iraqi Roadmap for Peace" written by Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi based in Amman, Jordan. The plan calls an apology and compensation for the victims of the war as a starting point. Raed’s plan can be found at http://raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com/

As the protesters protested and the guards guarded, construction workers toiled in the wind on the huge new fortifications presently going up all around the embassy. Veteran activist and retired builder Mike Scott caused the police a nervous moment went he went and had a yarn to one of the workers about the job. The worker told Mike that the giant earth filled concrete blocks being laboriously embedded around the perimeter of the site were "an anti tank design" Somewhere inside the horrid edifice, a boffin is probably struggling to come up with an effective "anti people's anger design", which will be more needed by the embassy and much harder to create.



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