Vale Rosemary ‘Waratah Rose’ Gillespie, 1942-2010

Solidarity was saddened to hear of the sudden death of activist and human rights campaigner, Waratah Rose on 22 June. Many people knew Waratah most recently as a passionate supporter of Aboriginal rights. She was planning to join the July anti-Intervention protest in Alice Springs. But her activism spans 40 years.

I first met Rosemary in the early 90s demonstrating outside a Melbourne armaments factory that was producing the mortar shells being used against the Bougainville independence rebels.

A friend and fellow Bougainville campaigner, Max Watts, described Rosemary as a “Joan of Arc of Australian politics… she was a person, who against all the odds, kept going into Bougainville, through the blockade, with the Australian Labor government doing everything it could to have her arrested. She was fired on by New Zealand and Australian helicopters, flying, according to the Labor foreign minister at the time, ‘in defence of Australia’. She played a decisive role in bringing Bougainville to the attention of the world.”

Waratah was also a human shield defending a water treatment plant against the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ invasion of Baghdad in 2003.
Solidarity sends its sympathies to Waratah’s family and her vast network of supporters. Condolence messages can be sent to [email protected]. Memorial meetings in various cities are expected in the coming weeks.

Ian Rintoul

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