BY BOB AIKEN AND DOUG COOPER
SYDNEY, Australia - Thousands of people took to the streets here July 14, Bastille Day, to protest the French government's decision to resume nuclear tests in September on Moruroa, an atoll in its colony of French Polynesia.
The rally and march, which ended in front of the French consulate, focused on nationalist appeals for the Australian government to take "stronger" action against "France."
People for Nuclear Disarmament initiated the action under the slogans, "End French Testing" and "Boycott French Products," as well as, "No Uranium Sales to France." Politicians from all the main political parties - the Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party, National Party, the Greens, and Australian Democrats - as well as major environmental organizations, union officials, and left-wing groups backed the action.
Organizers said 20,000 marched, while police put the figure at 10,000. Some 3,000 also marched in Melbourne, and 2,000 picketed the official Bastille Day celebration organized by the French Embassy in Canberra. Demonstrators also rallied in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and the Gold Coast.
"We want Australia to take the lead," former Tasmanian Green senator Bob Brown told the crowd as he summarized a five-point letter to go from the rally to the Australian government. The five points demanded that Canberra "join with New Zealand" and send an Australian navy supply ship to support a flotilla of protest vessels that is due to set off in mid-August from both countries to join the Rainbow Warrior in French Polynesia; halt the export of uranium; support selfdetermination for the French colonies of French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna; campaign for an end to all nuclear testing through the United Nations and the World Court; and campaign against the Moruroa tests.
While a few speakers cautioned that the protests are not directed at French people but at the French government, many handwritten placards took the common Australian nationalist framework to its logical, chauvinist conclusion with slogans like "Frogs don't have a leg to stand on," "Only the French could have that much Gaul," and "Bomb Paris." Major radio stations and other media built the rally using anti-French rhetoric and jokes.
Maritime Union of Australia national secretary John Coombs told the rally that the union is taking action against French-flagged ships and cargoes. "It is our intention to drive the French off the seas completely," he said.
No mention of Australian imperialism
Speakers who pointed to the need for independence for France's colonies made no mention of Canberra's imperialist role in the region or its backing of the war on Bougainville by the neocolonial regime in Papua New Guinea, its former colony.
Aside from condemning the sale of uranium to Paris by the Australian government, few speakers pointed to Canberra's backing of the nuclear arsenals of Washington, London, and Paris, or its support of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A handful of protesters pointed to Canberra's complicity with Paris. One banner ironically noted, "End uranium mining, boycott Australian products." Another sign said, "No more double standards. No more uranium sales. Australia is as guilty as France."
Daniele Caraty, who organized the June 18 Sydney protest by French-Australians against Chirac's decision, also spoke. Hundreds carried both printed and handwritten signs that said, "Non!" (No!).
High school and university students made up a large part of the protest. Further actions are scheduled for Hiroshima Day, August 6.
Bob Aiken and Doug Cooper are members of the Australian Workers' Union in Sydney.
BY LINDA HARRIS
SYDNEY, Australia - The biggest mobilization ever to take place in Tahiti shut down the capital city, Papeete, for several days in early July to protest the French government's decision to resume nuclear tests at Moruroa Atoll.
Some 10,000 people, more than 10 percent of the island's population, took part in the protest, blocking roads in and out of Papeete. The demonstration coincided with the arrival of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. Oscar Temaru, leader of Tavini Huiraatira (the Polynesian Liberation Front), the main pro-independence party, said the mood was one of "outrage and indignation," and that more actions against nuclear testing would follow.
Temaru and French Catholic bishop Jacques Gaillot joined the Rainbow Warrior's international crew as it sailed from Tahiti for Moruroa. It reached the 12-mile exclusion zone around Moruroa July 10, marking the 10th anniversary of the 1985 bombing by French agents of the original Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbor, New Zealand, which resulted in the death of one crew member.
A French naval ship rammed the Rainbow Warrior soon after it violated the limit and commandos stormed the vessel, smashing windows and firing tear gas as they arrested crew members, passengers, and journalists.
Protesters in Papeete delayed the Bastille Day military parade for more than an hour July 14. Some 5,000 cheering demonstrators, many waving the blue and white flag of the Tahitian independence movement, welcomed the crew of the Rainbow Warrior as it returned from Moruroa. Temaru said the ship would return to protest at Moruroa. "We'll use all means to prevent resumption of nuclear testing on the atoll," he said.
Four thousand people marched in Suva, Fiji, July 15, in opposition to the projected tests at Moruroa. A coalition of 10 organizations, including the Fiji Trades Union Congress, the University of the South Pacific Students Association, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and the National Council of Women, called the march.
Another action is planned in Suva for August 5.
Linda Harris is a member of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union in Sydney.
BY PATRICK BROWN
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - More than 1,500 people rallied and marched here July 14 to oppose Paris's plan to conduct eight underground nuclear bomb tests between September 1995 and May 1996. Protesters chanted loudly, "Stop the tests!" and "1,2,3,4, we don't want no nuclear war; 2,4,6,8, we don't want to radiate!" as they marched through the streets. Many passers-by applauded.
All the prominent speakers appealed to New Zealand nationalism in the fight against the testing.
The mayor of Christchurch, Vicki Buck, advocated that the New Zealand government send a naval frigate to Moruroa. Her remarks received loud applause. The opposition parties in Parliament have hammered this demand, and the government has said it is considering sending an unarmed naval research vessel.
At other actions in New Zealand more than 2,000 protesters marched in Auckland July 14. Another 2,000 picketed the residence of the French ambassador in the capital, Wellington.
Patrick Brown is a member of the Engineers Union in Christchurch. Eugen Lepou in Auckland contributed to this article.
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