The tens of thousands of people in the Northern Rivers and around Australia who marched against the invasion of Iraq by the US implicity encouraged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and soldier Bradley Manning in exposing the nature of the wars.
‘The two are now being persecuted for exposing the nature of the wars millions of us marched against and, consequently, we have a responsibility to support them,’ said Australian anti-war activist and Christian anarchist Ciaron O’Reilly during his recent address in Nimbin.
O’Reilly will speak at the Byron Bay markets this Sunday 5 August from round 9am and at SCU in Lismore on Tuesday 6 August around lunchtime.
He is a member of the Catholic Worker community and the ANZUS Ploughshares group which disabled a US B52 bomber in New York state in 1991 at the start of the first Gulf War and served 13 months in various US jails as a result.
He served more time in prison as a result of subsequent Ploughshare actions at Jabiluka and in Ireland.
In the past two years, Ciaron has accompanied the imprisoned Manning and the detained Assange at court appearances.
O’Reilly says the ‘Great Oil War’ for control of the Middle-East and its oil reserves that erupted after the fall of the Soviet Union has now gone on for over two decades and is Australia’s longest war, longer than Vietnam.
He says this ‘war’ looks like moving onwards to Syria and then to Iran. Meanwhile, widespread destruction has followed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and Libya.
O’Reilly says that Manning and Assange believe that if people were informed about the brutality of the war they would do something about it, and US authorities fear they would encourage similar resistance.
O’Reilly also believes small acts of human solidarity can have great effect for the anti-war resister and that even the small act of sending a postcard from the northern rivers, where Assange spent time as a youngster, to him in the Ecuadorian embassy would give him a huge boost.
O’Reilly will return to London in a few weeks and his Byron and Lismore speeches will be his last in Australia for a while.