“Peace not Pence”: Protest Over US Vice President’s Visit to Sydney

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Peace protesters gathering at Town Hall Square in Sydney

 

This weekend US Vice President Mike Pence is in Australia for diplomatic talks with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. This comes at a time of increased tension between the US and North Korea and continuing military action in the Middle East. Peace activists criticise the visit, saying the Australian government needs to distance their involvement in American wars.

Allison Hore Reports.

Audio Transcript:

Protesters (chanting): The US alliance is a trap, close the bases, close Pine Gap.

Allison: Anti-war activists gathered at Town Hall Square on Friday night to protest the visit of United States vice president, Mike Pence, and the US Australia war alliance.

Pence and his family arrived that night in the final stop of a tour of the Asia Pacific region. Before Australia, Pence travelled to Korea, Japan, and Indonesia with the aim of reaffirming alliances in the region.

But protesters say that the war alliance between Australia and the United States is something that the government should be reconsidering.

Bruce Knobloch of the Anti-war Coalition in Sydney says that Australia’s alliance with the US makes us a target to countries like North Korea.

Bruce: There’s a real danger that Australia will be a target, and certainly already, because it hosts American spy and marine bases, is already integrated into the American war machine.

Allison: NSW Greens Senator, Lee Rhiannon agrees. She calls for Australia to develop a foreign policy which is independent of the United States.

Senator Rhiannon: Just blindly following another country is not a solution for foreign policy and not a solution economically. At the end of the day the United States looks after itself.

Allison: Supporters of the US Australia alliance say that the relationship is important for our nation economically. Senator Rhiannon had this to say.

Senator Rhiannon: What will help our economic interests is leaders who are independent, and work with the US and give them advice about also being a good world citizen.

Allison: After talks between Prime minister Malcom Turnbull and Pence over the weekend the relationship between the United States is looking as strong as ever.

But Pip Hinman, of the Anti-war coalition, says that people have the power to move governments. And calls for a revival of the peace movement.

Pip: We’ve seen a lot of community campaigns that have had a very significant impact on policy. We can do the same again. The Vietnam war was lost by the US and Australia, largely because of the Vietnamese, but also because they had international solidarity from big protest movements in the US and Australia.

Allison: Australia’s military ties with the US look solid, but only time will tell if people power has the potential to change that.

Pip: I have confidence that we can do it and we can make our views known that we don’t accept being dragged into another war where more countries will be destroyed.

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