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UN PEACE DAY RALLY: protecting peacemakers like Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.

September 21, 2022 IN WIP
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  Truth Not War

UN Peace Day Rally

State Library, NAARM,

18 September, 2022

by Con Pakavakis, PEN Melbourne Writers For Peace

SBS News

If you missed the story about our UN Peace Day Rally& Mexico & Albo in London on SBS World News last night (Sunday), here is a link. The Assange story starts at the 24.08 min mark. (You need an SBS OnDemand log in)


Ruptly 3mins video

Dear Peace Day speakers, musicians and organisers,

Thank you so much for the courage you showed and the time, wisdom and commitment you gave so freely for the cause of Truth Not War. Although you have been rallying for years, you have not tired or waned and the streets of Melbourne are graced by your footsteps and your voices.

While the attendance number was low this time, let us heed the words of Dave Sweeney:

“From here we build, someone mentioned Jabiluka in Kakadu. There were 4 people in the rain in Melbourne, Jerome was one of them… soggy, ignored, and you feel powerless… and then we grew this, and as the story came out, people said this doesn’t sound right…the uranium remained in the ground, and that idea of AUKUS…  that idea should die too.”

For me, the rally was a step towards exposing the complexity of the issues threatening peace and what we need to do about it.

Below, I’ve plucked words from your speeches, like diamonds from a treasure chest, to share with the group until all the speeches are available. Some are available to view in the links below. We hope to be put up a more complete video soon.

Also below is a link to an SBS News report on the rally and Jodie’s radio broadcast samples. Even though the SBS report is only focussed on the Free Assange aspect and includes recent footage of John and Gabriele Shipton in Mexico, it is perhaps the most significant mainstream media report that we have succeeded in generating for Julian in Melbourne.

MC Amber Petty

Amber connected us all with her buoyancy and threads of comments that heightened the relevance of the speakers’ words, the songs, and why we were there.

Amber, you were so spot on when you asked us all:

“What in your mind was the trigger that changed public opinion for wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and any other wars? What public outrage came just before the end of apartheid in South Africa and the release of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela… It was public rallies like this one today.”


Elder Robbie Thorpe Gunai/Mara resistance campaigner and 3CR radio presenter.

Thank you, Robbie for your Acknowledgement of Country, speaking for the First Nations, highlighting the gross injustices of the British colonists, and shining the light of truth on Julian.

Thank you too to 3CR and Michaela Stubbs for the interview on Radioactive and frequent plugs for the rally.

Chris McKenzie PEN International, Melbourne President

Chris followed Robbie’s Acknowledgement of Country with a vital question:

“When we acknowledge the traditional owners whose land has never been ceded, it’s really a question: What are we going to do about it? There’s no easy answer but it’s an important question. This rally is about Truth Not War, and let’s not forget the frontier wars here in Australia which are rarely acknowledged and which did take place as part of the invasion and colonisation of this land.

Each year PEN International advocates for writers around the globe who are silenced, they’re persecuted, they’re harassed, they’re imprisoned, and they’re murdered for peacefully doing their work as writers, as journalists, as truthtellers…and today the PEN Empty Chair is for Julian Assange…we want him to come home, to spend the rest of his life with his beautiful young family.”


Fiona Patten MP, Reason Party

Dear Fiona, your exuberance and the calm vitality of your speech gave us not a hint of the anticipation you must have been feeling in relation to your health. The news on Tuesday revealing a kidney tumour came as a shock and I am gratefully in awe of your heroic presence at the rally under such circumstances. I know I speak for us all in conveying our love and wishing you the best possible recovery with your health.

Fiona, your succinct elucidation of the situation facing Julian Assange, made it clear for us all:

“Facing death in custody…Julian got information from a reliable source and he published it online. That’s not a crime, that’s journalism. That’s what every single newsroom around the world does every day. Albo needs to speak to the President of the United States. We cannot allow this persecution and prosecution of a journalist if we believe in truth.”


Jerome Small, Victorian Socialists

Jerome, thank you for your statesman-of-activism support of the rally as well as your generosity in supplying Ed and the sound system that enabled us to include musicians to the lineup. The collateral murder you focussed on remains one of the glaring juxtapositions of our time: the US claim to being a defender of free speech and democracy.

“The so called crime that Julian has been incarcerated for and put in one of those concrete cages, is the crime of exposing the criminals, of exposing collateral murder, maybe it was 12 people dead, maybe it was 18, who’s really counting, exposing the crime of the destruction of Iraq, maybe it was a million dead in a population the size of Australia, but maybe it was a million and a half or maybe it was only a hundred thousand, who’s really counting? It was for exposing one of those crimes that according to our rulers, is the greatest crime of all, exposing the truth of US war crimes.”

 John Lander, former Australian diplomat, before singing Imagine with Kevin Bruce:

“The good news: America is not going to go to war against China.

The bad news: America is preparing under AUKUS to send Australia to war against China. Imagine the devastation that will occur if they are successful in persuading our blind leaders to rush into war against China. John Lennon taught us that peace can be imagined into existence, so I want you all to commit to imagining peace.”


Izzy Brown, Wage Peace anti-militarist

“It’s about disrupting the people who are making the money and the bullets and the guns and the tanks and the machinery before it gets to the places where it’s going to hurt and harm people.. we’re using direct action, creative resistance, we’re using music … disrupting to let the arms dealers, the people profiting from war, know that we’re here and we’re serious.”

And then you rapped it for us: “I would be a human shield…why must there be no justice? Just us, just us… just us.”


Mark Conroy  Extinction Rebellion

“It’s an honour to stand here amongst a group of people who share with me in a powerful dream. That dream is of a world free of domination and exploitation through violence. I’d like to offer my thanks and solidarity to the organisers of today’s rally, to Julian Assange, to every brave advocate of peace around the world, to every person who suffered the horrors of war, and to every person here. It is this shared vision of peace, this dream born of a shared love for this world and its peoples that will sustain us through the terrible crisis, or multiplying crises, besetting our world.”

“…war is a tale of environmental destruction…The US military alone is the fifth highest carbon emitter in the world, emitting more than most developed countries.”

Thank you for sharing your dream and again for the heartfelt emotion of your, and Alex’s, rendition of Roger Waters’ ‘Gunner’s Dream’.


Dave Sweeney      Aust Conservation Foundation and co-founder of ICAN

Dave unleashed a powerhouse of points, every word should be carefully listened to, but here are a few grabs:

“Increasing nuclear threat is not a way of increasing our security… Brazil, Korea, Japan and many others are watching, they’re going to say ‘ If Australia gets this technology, we want it too’ “

“Would you buy these submarines to be deployed 2000 km off our shore?”

“You can’t evacuate Lismore with a nuclear-powered sub.”

“We’re concerned about transparency and process. These submarines are the Trojan horse of the nuclear industry…a book of conference papers (2018) was called : Nuclear Power in Australia? Starting with Submarines.”


Davey Heller

“… the reason Julian Assange is in jail, the reason successive Australian Governments have sold Julian out and the reason the world is on the precipice of a new world war are all the same – US imperialism.

…Albanese jetted off to the NATO Summit in Madrid in June. He was there as NATO declared China to be a strategic threat for the first time. It is clear NATO will be the driver of imperialism’s dual war plans against Russia and China and Australia is now a virtual defacto member.
So what do we need to do?  We need to understand why it is so hard to win over politicians in Australia to Julian’s cause and why moral pressure over the last twelve years has not worked. We need to understand who the enemy is in the campaign to free Julian and stop the drive to World War. Once we understand and clearly label the enemy, we need to build a mass movement in Australia to defeat them. On its banners we must inscribe – Free Julian Assange and stop the wars!”

Thank you also for your communication: “It was also great that the rally sought to bring together peace, human rights/civil society, socialist and environmental groups under the one banner. Points to the way forward.”


Thank you so much Ben, Kevin, John, Mark and Alex, and Izzy for bringing music to our rally. Your voices did what great protest songs do, echo in our minds and hearts and inspire long after the performance is finished.

Pre rally: Music by Ben Smith and Peace Train

SONG: IMAGINE (John Lennon) by John Lander and guitar: Kevin Bruce

GUNNER’S DREAM  (Pink Floyd) performed by Mark Conroy & Alex


BRING HIM HOME (Julian Assange)  by Kevin Bruce


Apology: I was unable to access an email message from Sami Shah at the rally. He was unable to attend as his flight from Sydney was delayed.

Lastly a huge thank you to all of the organising group and supporting organisations:

Raine Sinclair, none of this would have happened without your energetic work and commitment, and Jodie Harrison for your amazing behind the scenes media work,

AND  Chris McKenzie, Shirley Winton, John Lander, Lisa Beaumont, Julie Hart for continuous initiative and support.

Melbourne 4 Assange, PEN Melbourne, No AUKUS Coalition Vic, Extinction Rebellion, Victorian Socialists, ICAN, ACF, IPAN, Wage Peace, 3CR, and


PHOTOS from Jodie

Also from Jodie: Please see an updated report on our UN Peace Day Radio Release which is continuing to get news broadcasts across many Australian radio stations over the weekend and today.


There are some new broadcast samples to listen to from Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle too


SBS News

If you missed the story about our UN Peace Day Rally& Mexico & Albo in London on SBS World News last night (Sunday), here is a link. The Assange story starts at the 24.08 min mark. (You need an SBS OnDemand log in)


Ruptly 3mins video


Raine introducing the rally and Ben Smith music warming us up and attracting the public


Start of the Rally with Chris McKenzie


Most of the rally, starting with Imagine, by John Lander and Kevin Bruce


Davey Heller has also shared his transcript:

Start of the Rally with Chris McKenzie


UN International Day of PEACE

It is lies that start wars and have brought the world to the brink of climate devastation. It is truth, and acting on truth, that can save us.


Our theme for this UN Peace Day rally is Truth Not War. We plan for it to be a broad based, inclusive, colourful and peaceful rally with speeches and music that celebrate Melbourne’s longstanding tradition of rallying for Peace, opposing nuclear weapons and arms buildup, and showing resolve in protecting peacemakers like Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.


Julian Assange is incarcerated in a UK prison, and faces extradition to the US. The charges against Assange include espionage and would attract a prison term of up to 175 years, in effect a death sentence.


Through Wikileaks, Assange alerted the world to what is surely evidence of US war crimes in Iraq. In exposing the Iraq war atrocities Julian Assange and Wikileaks served the cause of peace.


Furthermore, Australia’s role in AUKUS and acquisition of nuclear submarines are a threat to peace and the environment.


Journalism is Not a Crime

The extradition of Assange to face allegations of espionage would set a dangerous precedent for press freedom. Publishing information that is in the public interest is a cornerstone of media freedom.


Join us at 12pm, at the State Library of Victoria on Sunday, 18 September. Enough is enough!

Pre-Rally music starts at 11am

Mark Conroy will be playing The Gunner’s Dream by Pink Floyd from their classic album Final Cut at the Peace Day rally on Sun 18th Sept at the State Library, details here: The rally starts at 12 but the music begins at 11am with Ben Smith, who has included Peace Train amongst the selection he will play. another couple of musical highlights include Kevin Bruce playing Bring Him Home (Julian Assange ), and Imagine by John Lennon that he will perform with John Lander.


Take Immediate Action for the release of Assange from the maximum security hellhole called Belmarsh Prison. Medical experts have cited his isolation and treatment as torture. In 2021 he suffered a mini stroke in court.


Urge the government to actively call on their counterparts in the UK and US for the extradition order and charges to be dropped NOW.


Please, WRITE to your local MP and demand action for Julian Assange:

Call on them to advocate for Australian citizen Julian Assange, to protect his welfare and his human rights.

Thank them if they have joined the Parliamentary Friendship Group and implore them to join if they are yet to do so.

Go to this page for information:

The PEN Melbourne Writers for Peace Committee has worked with Melbourne 4 Assange      Anti AUKUS Vic      Extinction Rebellion to organise this rally.

Subscribe for news & updates from PEN Melbourne.

People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International