Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 6. April 9, 1968
Vietnam 'just the beginning' — Peace march
Vietnam 'just the beginning'
Nearly 500 people marched from Victoria University to Parliament last week to oppose the Seato Conference.
The march, organised by the University Vietnam Peace Committee, involved about 450 students.
The rest were interested members of the public, including various trade union representatives.
The marchers were addressed by several participants when they reached Parliament.
Mr. Roger Boshier, a lecturer in phychology, introduced Mike Hirschfield as a "member of the NZBC Checkpoint team who is not afraid to speak his mind."
Mr. Hirschfield asked if "deceit and hypcrisy" could be accepted as Government policy. He said the peace offer from President Johnson did not detract from the need to oppose the Allied military effort in direct terms.
The next speaker was Mr. Barry Mitcalfe, a Training College lecturer and founding chairman of the Committee on Vietnam.
"Vietnam is just the beginning," he said.
He rejected some opinions claiming that it was a small war. "If this is just a small war, pray God we never see a big one," he said "Some people do not think about decisions that seem too big. We are doomed unless there is a better understanding of the new world."
Owen Gager, the leader of the demonstration, asked if the Government, having followed United States policy when it was wrong, was going to follow it now."
"The United States," he said, "is climbing down, not de-escalating. Will the appropriate reductions in the New Zealand armed forces follow?"
Mr. Boshier them asked the demonstrators to leave quietly. About a dozen, however, joined a group of about 30 including trade unionists and members of the Progressive Youth Movement, the latter carrying Viet Cong flags.
This group was exchanging provocative remarks with the pro-SEATO demonstrators carrying flags of the Republic of South Vietnam.
No violence occurred, though police did attempt to separate the two groups.
They soon mingled.
A member of the public, Mr. H. E. Green, displayed several medals he had won in World War I "fighting aggression".
"I am still fighting aggression here today —American agression," he said.
Another serviceman who declined to give his name said he had just returned from two years in Vietnam. He considered the Allied military effort worthwhile.
Opinions were exchanged for about 15 minutes after the main body of anti-SEATO demonstrators left. Finally, with verbal encouragement from the police, the grounds were cleared.
Owen Gager, leader of the Peace committee, said later. "For the bleakest day this year it was the best turnout we could have hoped for."
He said that a large number of students were against the war and a negligible number in favour of it.