Of all the signs, my favourite called for ‘Land Rights for Gay Whales’. But there were also people ‘So Mad That I Made This Sign’ and people against ‘Science Corrupted by Money’.
Then the more expected causes: in favour of renewable energy, against excessive mining, disgusted that ‘war criminal’ President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka had been invited to Perth.
The ‘Protest CHOGM’ rally – held to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth – Australia, saw an eclectic mix of groups.
And that says a lot about the Commonwealth meeting itself. It isn’t a meeting that focuses in on anything, so there isn’t really anything on which to focus a protest.
And that’s one of the big complaints about the Commonwealth: that it is an organisation that doesn’t really have a purpose it leaves protestors as rebels without a cause.
In fact, the Commonwealth heads of government have spent most of their time discussing themselves.
Already, those that have the British queen as their head of state have agreed with Prime Minister David Cameron that women should be able to secede to the throne, and that royal heirs should be allowed to marry Catholics.
The leaders now turn to a review of their organisation by nine ’eminent persons’ – retired politicians, judges and diplomats.
Its report, two years in the making, says that the Commonwealth needs to find a stronger voice.
As an institution it needs to speak out more – on human rights abuses, specifically.
It recommends the creation of a specific role of commissioner to do so. Without change, the report argues, the Commonwealth will slip into irrelevancy and die.
If protestors at future CHOGM meetings have clearer causes, the Commonwealth as an institution will have its own cause to celebrate.