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[casi] 150 - 200,000 march in Melbourne - report from Channel Nine

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Peace rally clogs Melbourne

Tens of thousands of peace protesters packed Melbourne's city streets in
a show of strength against a US-led war in Iraq.

It was the first in a series of planned peace protests across Australia
this weekend, which will culminate in rallies on Sunday in Sydney,
Brisbane and Adelaide.

The weekend protests in Australia coincide with anti-war rallies around
the world.

Touted as the biggest protest in Australia since the anti-Vietnam War
marches of 30 years ago, today's Melbourne rally kicked off with mock
air raid sirens to symbolise air attacks on Baghdad.

Protesters gathered outside the State Library in Swanston Street, waving
placards with slogans including: "No War for Oil", "Howard's End" and
"Will the Pollies' Kids Go to War?"
They were addressed by former Democrats leader Natasha Stott-Despoja and
Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown.

"It is an amazing scene here with you today in a show of solidarity to
send a strong message to Prime Minister Howard and the Australian
government that Australians don't want war," Senator Stott Despoja told
the huge crowd.

Senator Brown told protesters the possible war concerned United States
president George W Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and
Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"But this war is not Australia's war," Senator Brown said.

The protesters made their way down Swanston Street to Federation Square,
where they were to be addressed by union and political leaders as well
as rock singer and conservationist Peter Garrett.

The event, organised by churches, peace and student groups and unions,
will wind up with a 90-minute music concert.

Police would not immediately put a figure on the size of the crowd, but
organisers put it at up to 200,000.

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