Peace in Ukraine! Russia Out! NATO Out!
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We publish the Introduction given by Shirley Winton (MC) at the Melbourne rally on 12 March 2022
Welcome all and thank you for coming to this peace rally calling for an end to the war in Ukraine.
We acknowledge that we’re on the stolen land of the First Nations, the Wurundjeri people, who never ceded their country. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and stand in solidarity with their struggles for justice, sovereignty and genuine treaties.
We have come together today to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and Russia.
We are united in our common demands, Peace in Ukraine, Russia Out! NATO Out!
We call for immediate ceasefire and genuine negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to bring peace and justice to the people of Ukraine. The working people of Ukraine have the right to self-determination and sovereignty, to determine their people and country’s future.
Firstly, this war is primarily between big powers – US-NATO and Russia - for control of spheres of influence in Europe, resources, markets and labour – particularly in East Europe. Ukraine is a proxy in this big powers’ struggle and war. The Ukrainian and Russian people are used as pawns, cannon fodder, on a chess board of inter-imperialist rivalries.
Ukraine is a multicultural country with many nationalities and ethnic minorities who’ve lived there for centuries. It’s a history of invasions and occupations by colonial and imperialist powers and empires who ruled by dividing the people. The contention and interference in Ukraine by big powers today have again artificially reignited and inflamed divisions and hostilities amongst the people of Ukraine and Russia. The ordinary people living in Ukraine and along its borders want to live in peace with each other.
We have been bombarded by one sided US propaganda. Voices criticising US/NATO for creating conditions for this war, are silenced, suppressed or ridiculed.
The Australian government is totally in lock step with the US, not only supporting but cranking up the US war rhetoric.
We in Australia can learn from events taking place in Ukraine. It gives us a glimpse, and brings closer to home, what we will be walking into if our governments continue to follow the US into a war with China.
The AUKUS military pact – Australia, UK, US - and its twin Quad (US, India, Australia, Japan) are imitations of NATO in the Asia Pacific. Do we want the Asia-Pacific to be turned into a war zone of contention by big powers? Constantly threatening the people and countries in this region? Do we want Australia to become an expanded US military base and complicit in US-led wars of aggression?
It is obscene that more than $120 billion of ordinary people’s taxes will be spent on AUKUS, nuclear submarines and hosting expanded US military bases and facilities in Australia in preparations for war with China. The nuclear submarines Australia will be purchasing from US and UK are not at all for defending the Australian people. They are designed and will solely be used to encircle and contain China because it is economically threatening the global US hegemony.
In the meantime, our public health system and public hospitals are at breaking point, severely underfunded and understaffed. Our public education, schools and our children’s education is sacrificed, in desperate need of much more government funding; our homeless, our aged care facilities are neglected and abandoned. Where is the government funding urgently needed by communities devastated by floods and bushfires? Where is government funding and resources to deal with climate change?
Working people and soldiers are the main casualties of imperialist wars. We pay a high price with our lives, our health and carry the burden of high cost of living, impoverishment, homelessness, devastation that wars of aggression inflict on the people and the environment. And who benefits from these wars? The global weapons corporations, the military industrial complex, the fossil fuel corporations.
We are here to revive and continue building a broad mass anti-war, peace movement. Some of us have differences of opinion on other matters, but we are united and work together in our demands for Peace and Justice.
Wars of aggression, climate crisis, the crises in our social and community services, are all connected. A broad movement for peace and justice can bring us together in a powerful people’s movement.
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