March 18, 2003 AFP Reports
Australian PM Under Siege at Own Residence for Committing
Aussie Troops to
War. A resistance deepens and the doors open
to a breadth and depth of civil disobedience never before
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PM under siege after committing Australian troops to Iraq
Tuesday, 18-Mar-2003 6:00PM PST
Story from AFP
Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)
CANBERRA, March 19 (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister John
Howard was forced to leave home by a back door Wednesday
as anti-war protesters blocked the front gates of his official
Up to 15 Greenpeace activists protesting the government's
decision on Tuesday to commit troops to a US-led invasion
of Iraq moved in around dawn, chaining themselves to the
gates and to four-wheel drive vehicles blocking the entrances
of the residence.
They carried banners proclaiming "Howard's war --
a bloody outrage" and "John Howard -- war criminal" in
a peak-hour protest that caused major traffic congestion
on one of Canberra's major arterial roads.
Howard, dogged in recent days by protestors wherever he
goes, came face to face with the demonstrators as he left
for his early morning walk.
He challenged them when he returned,
telling one: "I'm
entitled to my opinion, you're entitled to yours."
Later the protesters prevented Howard leaving for nearby
Parliament House by car, forcing him instead to use a pedestrian
gate to reach a waiting car outside.
Police persuaded the protesters to end their protest two
and a half hours later and said they would not be arrested.
Wearing blue UN berets, 10 of the protesters used bicycle
locks to chain themselves underneath four-wheel drives
mocked up to look like UN vehicles, and to security gates.
Greenpeace spokesman Shane Rattenbury said the protesters
were symbolically placing Howard under house arrest.
"The prime minister said yesterday not to have an
argument with the Australian troops and to bring the beef
to him," Rattenbury said.
"That's what we have done here,
we've brought it here to the PM's house to deliver the
message that Australians
don't want this war in Iraq.
"It's not our war. It's immoral,
illegal, and Australians shouldn't be there."
The protesters said they faced no opposition as they began
their action. But soon afterwards at least 20 police as
well as official security guards and plain clothes security
officers arrived to guard the compound, about 500 metres
(1,650 feet) from Parliament House.