Australia and the Vietnam War

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Moratoriums and Opposition - public dissent: The case of John Zarb

A march in Sydney Road towards Pentridge Prison in support of John Zarb. [State Library of Victoria Accession number H92.420/210, call number PCV LTAF 637, reproduced with the permission of the State Library of Victoria]

A march in Sydney Road towards Pentridge Prison in support of John Zarb. [State Library of Victoria Accession number H92.420/210, call number PCV LTAF 637, reproduced with the permission of the State Library of Victoria]

A march in Sydney Road towards Pentridge Prison in support of John Zarb, who was imprisoned for refusing to serve in Vietnam.

Zarb, a postman, was called up in 1967. He was denied conscientious objector status and in 1968 was sentenced to two years imprisonment. He became a focal point for opponents to the war and the graffitied slogan ‘Free Zarb’ appeared across Melbourne, remaining visible in some places long after his release. Zarb’s having received regular bags of mail from supporters all over Australia helped him endure his time in prison. He was released on the same day that Ray Simpson was awarded the Victoria Cross – a coincidence that prompted the Sydney Morning Herald to compare Zarb’s courage in remaining true to his beliefs with Simpson’s physical courage in combat.

Zarb now lives in Canberra and was active in protests against Indonesia’s rule over East Timor.


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One of the many posters and leaflets distributed in the cause of John Zarb’s release from prison. [State Library of South Australia SRG 1248, reproduced with the permission of the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam]