Scoop Images: March Against US War And Peace Vigil
Story by Chloe Heffernan
Around 500 people marched up Queen Street in Auckland to protest against any US military response to the World Trade Centre attacks on September 11. They also called for the New Zealand government to not lend support to any US actions and called for racist attacks against members of the Arab and Muslim community to end.
The march started with a rally at QE2 Square with speakers from many different relgious, political and community groups including Darien Fenton (Vice President of the CTU), Maire Leadbeater (Auckland City Councillor and organiser of Justice for Asylum Seekers), Simy Gulzar (Working Women's Association of Pakistan), Keith Locke (Green Party), Matt McCarten (President of the Alliance), Zaeem Baksh (Students for Justice in Palestine) and Gul Zaman (Muslim community).
The Alliance committed itself to not supporting any NZ involvement in reprisals unless under the auspices of the UN. Others called for a more blanket ban on NZ involvement, military action in any form would only worsen, rather than resolve the problems the region faces.
The rally drew participants from several Christian groups, GE activists, the Water Pressure Group, Socialist Workers Organisation and many more. Slogans included "Stop America's War," "Justice not vengeance," "retribution is no solution" complete with assorted doves and peace signs.
The march proceded up Queen Street led by the Water Pressure fire engine at a leisurely pace and was quite pleasant due to the mild, almost Summer's evening.
The marchers then gathered in Aotea Square underneath the Town Hall for an open mike session in which speakers from many different left wing groups attempted to discuss the attacks and US military response to wider issues such as US foreign policy, the desperation caused by globalised neo-liberal economics and capitalism. A US traveller who had arrived in Auckland this morning praised the crowd for their action and told them not to believe CNN: many Americans opposed the war and the peace movement was growing.
Finally a peace vigil was held to commemorate the anniversary of the current Palestinian Intifada. Many members from the Palestinian community were present including children who held candles in honour of the Palestinians who have died in the last year. The vigil was punctuated by peace songs reminiscient of the Vietnam days.
Once again, at a weeks notice, with publicity consisting of the odd email, internet notice and poster, people were prepared to come out and spend three hours protesting for peace. With better outreach and organisation it can only get bigger.