Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Anti-war protest divides opinion

A group of Brisbane veterans today held a rally at the Enoggera Army Barracks in protest against Australia’s involvement in the war on terror.

Stand Fast was formed as a reaction to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and its members are strongly opposed to the conflicts and Australia’s participation in them.

As a result of Australia’s alliance with the George Bush-led US adminstration, Australia has been involved in the Afghanistan war since 2001 and the Iraq war since 2003.

Spokesman for the group Hamish Chitts said the Australian government uses their soldiers as a means to wage a power struggle.

“Stand Fast opposes both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.We believe that the main motivation for these wars…are about greed,” he said.

This year has been one of Australia’s bloodiest in terms of casualties and the debate is reignited every time Australia loses another soldier.

Mr Chitts said Stand Fast organised the rally to encourage the public to speak out against the wars if they oppose them. He believes a large number of Australians don’t agree with Australia’s involvement in the conflicts.

“The latest polls say it’s about 60%, so, you know, it’s the majority of the population – but it’s sort of kept indoors. So [the rally] is just a thing to show that there is an opposition.”

One of the key beliefs of Stand Fast is that their support of the troops is unwavering – it is the conflict in which they are asked to participate which is unacceptable.

“You know, you can oppose a war,” Mr Chitts said, “and not be against the troops.”

Private Tomas Dale is laid to rest on September 8 in Adelaide after he was killed in Afghanistan.

Private Tomas Dale is laid to rest on September 8 in Adelaide after he was killed in Afghanistan. Photo Courtesy Australian Army.

Mr Chitts, along with the other members of the group, thinks there should be an immediate withdrawal from the wars to bring the Australian troops home safely.

However Retired Wing Commander Russell Anderson, who is not associated with Stand Fast, said there are complications with pulling out of a war.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “since we’ve got in there, rightly or wrongly, it’s very difficult to get out.”

Wing Commander Anderson said that, as both wars were condoned by the United Nations and Australia is a member of the UN, Australia was obliged to participate.

However, he can understand the concerns people have about who Australia is fighting overseas.

“It’s very difficult for a military force, since you’re not attacking the other nation’s military force – you’re attacking the families, the clans … it becomes a difficult war to be in,” he said.