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APEC Protest peaceful despite the lies, initimidation and provocation

by Dave Riley

Early reports from today's APEC protest in Sydney suggest that the rally and march proceeded without major incident despite the massive hue and cry that preceded the mobilisation.

The prospect that provocateurs could highjack a section of the rally at the behest of those -- Howard, Iemma, NSW cops, et al -- who preferred violent outcomes was very real. Now these leaders of the 'free world' will be wearing the echo of their own rhetoric each time they try to restrict freedom of speech and assembly as they have done so brutally for APEC.

That's why this protest was so important. So much 'democracy' was at stake.

Without a 'international terrorist' to be had or a Muslim community to vilify, this attempt to incorporate mass protest as threat to our purported collective freedoms has come unstuck and we've had a major win where we know it matters: in the street.

The hard left -- that's our left, and our politics -- has stood its ground due to the leadership in no small measure of the Socialist Alliance and the socialist youth group, Resistance -- as well as, most importantly, the Stop Bush Coalition. In this important protest coalition has also been the Greens, the Firebrigade union and the Maritime Union of Australia.

In the context of a fast approaching federal election this assertion is a major flagging of how distant mainstream dialogue is from political reality and the concerns of everyday Australians. This protest also boldly asserts the fact that just because there is a federal poll coming, we should not go quiet and pull our political punches for fear of rocking the ALP's electoral chances.

A new prospect has been opened up today as to the sort of politics we can and must inject between now and the poll date -- and how we need to inject them.

Those who opposed the Iraq war or who advocated urgent action on climate change --as does the majority of the Australian population -- were vilified and an bipartisan attempt was made to criminalise those who sort to be active on those beliefs and turn them into pariahs.

And in a very real sense, John Winston Howard 's arrogance has over reached itself so that the declining fortunes of his government have now entered free fall. Already in the context of what should have been an imperial triumph -- the APEC Summit -- today's talk is of rolling him as prime minister before the election day less than two months away.

We will not forget, I'm sure, the YouTube homily and these phophetic words:
AAP reports: "The reason why we have this security clampdown in Sydney, the reason why people have been inconvenienced is because people in the past have practised and, in the current environment, are threatening violence,'' Mr Howard told reporters. "It's not the fault of the guests in our country.

"It's not the fault of the American president, or the Chinese president or the Russian president, it's not the fault of the NSW government or the federal government. It's the fault of people who threaten violence.

"That's why you have to have heavy security. It's got nothing to do with the luggage or the behaviour of the people who are coming here as our guests.''

These many others who marched today and the youth who came out on Wednesday last....

Lest we forget what this protest has achieved.

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Snippets

TWO police were injured and three protesters arrested, but organisers of a rally coinciding with today's APEC leaders' meeting largely delivered on their promise of a peaceful protest...At least three people were arrested, but charges have not yet been laid and police could not immediately provide details of the incidents that led to the arrests....Police fears of a full-scale riot and extreme violence were not realised....Police helicopters hovered overhead and officers were stationed on rooftops. The newly-purchased water cannon was moved to several locations during the protest, but was not deployed.....A group of about 20 black-garbed men were separated from the rally by police after protesters accused them of being neo-Nazis intent on provocation.

Stop Bush Coalition organiser Alex Bainbridge said the protesters' behaviour had been "exceptional".

"The outcome of this rally today, which we said was a peaceful rally, goes to prove the security operation, the scaremongering about violence, has been exposed as a lie," he said.

"It was a smokescreen to divert attention from the real issues."

He said protest organisers did not take issue with the way police conducted themselves.

"On the whole, we don't have big problems, but we think the security operation which today they were a part of, has been exaggerated and overblown."

4 Com:

John Tracey | September 08, 2007

Did SA, Resistance or the broader movement link up with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Victoria Park?

Did SA and Resistance argue for indigenous demands, in particular opposition to the NT intervention, to be included in the protest's demands?

If so, who argued against this - there has been no mention of it in any of the media including alternative media.

If not, why not?

Surely there is room for Aboriginal Australia in this...... "new prospect (that) has been opened up today as to the sort of politics we can and must inject between now and the poll date"

The protest was a missed opportunity to embarrass Howard in front of the world about his Aboriginal agenda.

For the broader movement to have made this connection would have been a profound act of solidarity.

Oh Well, maybe next time.

Al McCall | September 08, 2007

What the APEC protests needed, of course, was for John Tracy to lead them.

John Tracey | September 08, 2007

Al, thanx for the endorsement.

If I had have been invited earlier I would have beeen happy to lead the mob. Give me more notice next time.

Such a cynical kneejerk reaction is a clear indication of the psychological resistance to the challenges of indigenous issues that many of "the left" are locked into.

Instead of self reflection the left is engaged in mindless self defence.

"I'm not racist, but...."

John Tracey | September 09, 2007

So I take it that there was no link up with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy?

I suggest this is because the protest movement shares the same colonial consciousness as mainstream Australia. Aboriginal people, actions and demands are ignored unless they have some relevance to our own campaigns and issues.

We reduce Aboriginal struggle to meaningless dot points on our own propaganda - although it seems even this didn't happen at the APEC protest. Please correct me if I am wrong but I saw nothing in the many statements about the protest.

Some communiques refered to inspiring quotes from Aboriginal spokespeople to rev up a sense of militancy, but nobody decided to include Aboriginal demands, let alone connect to the Tent Embassy protesting at the same time and same place.

This is a crucial time in Australian history as we face the possiblity of finally getting rid of Howard. He and Brough have picked a fight about protecting Aboriginal children, in so doing he is provoking the worst of Australian racism in the hope that such negativity will get him over the line just as children overboard did.

But children overboard had a massive reaction - a whole refugee rights movement developed with protests across the country continuing until the present.

But who has built any similar campaign in support of Aboriginal Australia? The ALP has supported the intervention and "the left" or the militant protest movement has done little else than pass polite commentary on the matter in their other campaigns.

As long as Aboriginal demands, political organisation and ways of doing things are ignored by our protest movements, we remain as just another branch of a diverse invader colonial matrix.

We may have our arguments with other sectors of the invader society such as Howard but we are all united in our blindness to Aboriginality and our own responsibilities and opportunities in this Aboriginal country.

It is time to transcend tokenism and white consciousness and join the longest running resistance movement in Australia's history.

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