Sydney’s Pro-Palestinians Condemn Ongoing Gaza Genocide and the Complicity of Albanese

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Sydney Palestine protest

The apartheid Israeli state continues its two-month-long all-out massacre of the Palestinians of Gaza. The operation, first framed around self-defence and revenge in response to Hamas attacks on Israelis, has long been laid bare as a sought-after landgrab awaiting for a justification to be launched.

In the early days of the mass atrocities being beamed out across the globe 24/7 on every possible device available, a plan to ethnically cleanse Gaza, pushing the Palestinians into the Egyptian Sinai, was leaked, which had been doing the rounds of the Israeli parliament and has since been actioned.

The campaign for Palestine and the climate movement has once again crossed paths of late, as Fossil Free London gathered outside the local BP headquarters, as this fossil fuel giant was amongst six just awarded a dozen gas exploration licences for locations off the coast of Gaza by the Israeli state.

Since Israel recommenced the carpet bombing of the Strip, the illegal bloodshed has been as barbaric as when it first unleashed its highest of all technological furies upon the 2.3 million people walled in to 40-kilometre-long Gaza, who’ve been suffering under a 16 year goods blockade.

And grassroots people around the planet continue to pour out onto the streets, regardless of whether governments are trying to criminalise them and falsely charge them with antisemitism, or, as in nations like Brazil, their leaders are now condemning Netanyahu’s operation as genocide.

Sydney Palestine protest

Never quite universal

“Today is the day we are supposed to be acknowledging the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Palestine Action Group Sydney spokesperson Assala Sayara. “Do you know when that declaration was created?… in 1948: the year in which my people were displaced.”

“What is the date today?” she asked a second question. “Today is the 10 December 2023. Has this declaration protected our people? Has it protected anyone who has been living under injustice? No, because this declaration was never created with the intention to protect Palestinian people.”

Sayara was addressing the 10 December Stop the Genocide rally in Sydney’s Hyde Park North. This is a weekly demonstration, which has been ongoing since the outbreak of violence in early October. And its numbers aren’t dwindling over time and the protests will continue throughout the holidays.

The Albanese government and the NSW Minns government have both firmly committed to the violence of the settler colonial Israeli state, labelling its commission of multiple war crimes as upholding that nation’s “right to self-defence”.

This stance by Labor, which is in line with other western allied leadership, serves to highlight Sayara’s point relating to the selective upholding of the rights in the universal declaration.

“Supporting Palestine does not make you antisemitic,” the Palestinian activist made clear.  “It doesn’t make you anti-Jew. It doesn’t make you anti anything. It makes you human.”

The struggle of local First Nations peoples is one and the same with that of Palestinians, says Wongutha-Yamatji man Meyne Wyatt
The struggle of local First Nations peoples is one and the same with that of Palestinians, says Wongutha-Yamatji man Meyne Wyatt

Truths come unstuck

Wongutha-Yamatji man Meyne Wyatt paid respect to the “actual owners of the land” the Gadigal people. And he added that despite what “some self-appointed Indigenous leaders may claim, blackfellas do stand for and with Palestine, for we both share the scars of British colonialism”.

“We share your horror and grief. We stand in solidarity and call for an immediate permanent unconditional ceasefire, for an end to the genocide and the end to the occupation,” he continued. “Palestinian sovereignty was never ceded, and neither was ours.”

Wyatt went on to stress that the struggle for Palestinian liberation is one and the same struggle for First Nations peoples, as well as that of all the oppressed across the globe. And he added that the solidarity in the crowd was not just against the genocide but also the system of Israeli apartheid.

The clear disconnect between what’s occurring on the ground and that portrayed in the mainstream media remains stark. ABC journalists have spoken out about being pressured into not using terms like genocide, invasion, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupation to describe those very things.

“The apartheid model was spawned here in Australia,” Wyatt explained, as he told the truths white Australia has long attempted to bury. “They took blackfellas from their countries and chucked them in missions. Apartheid in Australia, in Queensland, only ended in the 80s.”

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong assured that federal and NSW Labor are both going to feel a backlash over their support of Israel at the ballot box
NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong assured that federal and NSW Labor are both going to feel a backlash over their support of Israel at the ballot box

A government adrift

The Albanese government, the NSW government, the PM, the foreign minister and the NSW premier have all been bitter disappointments due to their support of the genocidal bloodshed being carried out with as much precision civilian collateral damage as possible and they’re making us all complicit.

As for the Coalition and the warmongering defence minister, they’re unbridled support for Tel Aviv was to be expected, as was the Australian Greens commitment to the Palestinian cause, calling for a ceasefire and calling out the Netanyahu government for its bloodthirsty colonising expansionism.

“As a country founded on colonisation and genocide, we know that the kind of displacement and the kind of human rights violations that we are seeing right now rained down on Gaza are nothing new to the First Nations people of this land,” said NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong.

“It is almost beyond belief that we are here on International Human Rights Day and that we saw the United Nations Security Council yesterday fail to pass a resolution that called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

“We saw the state of the United States of America raise their hand, and in raising their hand, they showed us that their care and humanity for human rights is nothing short of a disgrace,” the Greens member for Newtown continued.

“They showed us that they were willing to stand by and put their hand up on the side of the oppressors that are bombing in a genocidal attack right now, the children, the men, the women, the people of Gaza.”

Leong further called out Albanese, Wong and Minns for failing those out on the streets on a “massive genocidal scale”, which she underscored won’t be forgotten. And she added that whilst politicians call for those speaking out to “stay in their own lane”, more of this dissent is called for.

APAN president Nasser Mashni makes clear that the fight of the Palestinian people is the fight of all Indigenous and oppressed peoples
APAN president Nasser Mashni makes clear that the fight of the Palestinian people is the fight of all Indigenous and oppressed peoples

Grassroots swamps official narrative

“Palestinians and our Indigenous brothers and sisters understand the language of colonialism. The language of violent dispossession of rape of murder of imprisonment,” Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) president Nasser Mashni told the Hyde Park North crowd.

“Our freedom is their freedom. There is no freedom in Palestine without freedom for every Indigenous people on this earth for every oppressed people for every despised people,” the Palestinian man continued.

As examples of the Earth’s oppressed Indigenous peoples, Mashni listed the First Nations people of this continent, those of the Western Sahara, the Rohingya, the West Papuans and the people of Kashmir. He added this further includes Black, Brown and Yellow people, Queer and Jewish peoples.

The freedom and liberation of these peoples, Mashni continued, is part of a movement that is secular, and values love and equality. And it is a movement opposed to the settler colonial forces of the Netanyahu government and its backers: the western allies, NATO and the AUKUS powers.

The APAN president further raised the personal attacks against him in the mainstream press, which came after he spoke out countering the validity of the crimes being perpetrated in Gaza in their early days. So prominent was the Palestinian activist’s voice that those opposed attempted to discredit it.

Mashni further stated that next time the constituencies of Australia and NSW make their opinions known at the ballot box, both the Albanese and the Minns governments are going to feel the dearth in voter support arising directly from their actions during this humanitarian crisis.

“Now, you would have seen the attacks on me and how ugly and disgusting they were, but they did nothing. They did nothing, because Indigenous people get their strength from their people and the soil that their ancestors are buried in,” Mashni defiantly told the crowd.

“We can’t be broken with words. The attack on me is not about me, it is an attack on every one of you. In an attempt to silence me, they are attempting to silence you,” he concluded. And he received a resounding no, when he then asked the crowd, “Are you going to be silenced?

Main photo: Palestine Action Group Sydney spokesperson Assala Sayara

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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