Sydney Opera House 'No War' activists face court for paint cans

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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Sydney Opera House from the side.

Two activists convicted for painting the words "NO WAR" in five-metre-high red letters on the highest sail of Sydney Opera House in March 2003, are facing court action again to prevent them from auctioning the equipment used to paint the controversial sign.

Dr Will Saunders and David Burgess were sentenced to nine months periodic detention and ordered to pay the Opera House Trust $151,000 for malicious damage to the building on March 18, 2003.

The pair spent six months in jail for painting the slogan on one of the sails of the Opera House on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. The protesters say they wish to auction the equipment for humanitarian causes in Iraq.

Police confiscated the paint can and two brushes used in the incident and have now applied for a court order to have the can and brushes destroyed. They are saying such an auction would contravene proceeds of crime laws.

Saunders said they wanted to auction the can and send the proceeds to humanitarian causes in Iraq. According to The Australian newspaper, Mr Saunders said the auction could be conducted by a registered charity to raise money for the Mother and Child Hospital in Basra.

He said the can should also be preserved as an important piece of Sydney history.

"We want to give the surplus money that we've raised, and anything extra we can make from an auction – not only the paint pot ... I think we can raise many many thousands of dollars," he said. "We'd be happy to come to any reasonable arrangement with the police about how this auction takes place ... it's just mean beyond belief, petty-minded just to destroy it."

The matter will go before a Sydney court on January 16.

Meanwhile, the world-famous Sydney Opera House is one of 21 international landmarks short-listed to become the new Seven Wonders of the World. The list includes modern landmarks such as Paris' Eiffel Tower and older candidates like the Colosseum in Rome and China's Great Wall.

Sources

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