Remembering Iraq- 14 February 2013

Media Alert – Remembering Iraq

 Thursday 14 February 2013


TEN years ago this week, an unprecedented number of people marched through the streets of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to oppose war in Iraq.

Remembering the many Australian military personnel who have since lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of those protesters will come together again this week to re-state their opposition to conflict, and call for a more independent and peaceful Australia.

On Friday over 300 citizens, academics and medical practitioners and more than 30 organisations from faith, trade unions, peace and community groups across Australia will join in a national campaign urging our leaders NOT to allow the build up of US military forces on Australian territory.

The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) is particularly concerned about growing tensions between China and Japan (supported by the US) in the East China Sea.

“The idea that China and Japan are slipping towards war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands territorial conflict is deeply shocking,” said IPAN spokesman Professor Richard Tanter.

“How could the world’s second and third largest economies even consider the possibility of war over half a dozen uninhabitable islets?

“The Australian government needs to not only urge a negotiated solution to the dispute but also to avoid being drawn into support for military action by the most nationalist Japanese government in half a century.”

The urgency of the situation prompted former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to publish an opinion piece last week (SMH 8 Feb) calling on Australia to remain independent and not to side with the US:

“It is time Australia started to have a mind of its own,” Mr Fraser wrote.

“We should not follow a superpower into war, merely because it wants us to, or because of ANZUS. There has been no conflict to which ANZUS has had any relevance whatsoever” “Great powers follow their own interest and not that of any other country.”

Professor Tanter urged Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Government to reconsider its commitment to allow the United States to expand its military presence in Darwin and Western Australia.

“Australia needs to stand firm, maintain its independence and make immediately clear its interest in a peaceful resolution in the East China Sea,” Prof Tanter said.

“To allow US forces to be stationed on Australian territory in ever increasing numbers while the dispute escalates is not in our interest: not now – not ever.

“Territorial disputes like this must only be solved peacefully, and by cooperative dialogue. Australia’s interest lies in a rule-based, peaceful international order points towards negotiation and arbitration.”

IPAN is a network of organisations from all regions of Australia who are united by our support for an independent Australian foreign policy based on peaceful resolution of conflicts.