AUSTRALIA BMD PROTEST
30 July 2001
from Judy, Perth, Western Australia
Our BMD protest in Perth today went very well and the sky gods smiled upon us, almost stopping the rain that had been falling incessantly for the preceding 20 or so hours. I didn't count how many supporters came along - but must have been around 50. Our media release resulted in 3 radio interviews beforehand, and the West Australian newspaper sent along to the actual protest a journo (another interview) and a photographer who certainly seemed to have itchy shutter finger - especially for the 6 RAGING GRANNIES. There was also a journo/photographer from The Voice, one of the good local newspapers over here. Most people wore black as requested - and armfuls of sunflowers were distributed - so the symbols of life and death were everywhere, looking quite stunning. The RAGING Gs, wearing bright sunflower aprons with 'Raging Grannies' painted in bold red letters, emerge when they see a nuclear threat to future, and being a colourful lot, are much appreciated by the sometimes jaded media at such events. We had some excellent singing of suitable no-nukes songs led by two wonderful young women, and several speakers, including two new MLCs, Robin Chapple (Greens WA), and Loiuse Pratt (Labor), as well as Adrian, a young Greenpeace fellow who of course talked about the incarcerated G'peace activists jailed for peaceful protest on July 14 during the 4th BMD test. Sharon Davies, an American citizen who lives over here and doesn't think an awful lot of George Dubbya, spoke last and very well. Sharon and I managed to deliver our protest letter to a Richard Someone-or-other starting with S, who is there to support the Acting US Consul (all this after amazing security carry on - in which he eventually came down from 13th floor to meet us in a corridor on 4th!)
With our banners, 'DON'T BE BUSHED INTO STAR WARS - KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE' and 'BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENCE IS A WASTE OF SPACE' as well as banners from various peace organisations here, we took our protest on to the Exchange Plaza where *DFAT's Perth office is located - and here our wonderful fiery
Jo Vallentine spoke, followed by me reading the letter to Alexander Downer, Minister for *Foreign Affairs and Trade. Amazingly the security guards agreed that ALL RAGING GRANNIES could deliver the letter to Downer to DFAT personnel (after initially limiting us to two only), and as we were at last being admitted to lift to take us to 17th floor to deliver our letter, an electronic alarm started sounding - and we were ushered back into ground level foyer! Shortly about half a dozen yellow-overall-ed Fire-and-Rescue fellows rushed in and took lift up to goodness knows where - to eventually re-emerge - at which time we Grannies, accompanied by a security guard, were at last allowed to rise up in lift to DFAT's HQ over here. Again we were not invited into an office (we suspect they were frightened that we might run amuck with our sunflowers) - but had to wait in a corridor - until Greg Alton came out to see us - and listen politely while we explained why we were protesting. We handed over the letter to Downer (also one to Reith) and returned to earth to report to those waiting on terra firma. A little adventure! As this whole thing was part of a national protest during Rumsfeld-Powell visit, we are eager to hear how thee other protests went. It is appalling to think that right now a few willing Coalition arms will be being twisted to engage Australia more actively in BMD plans.