“War Crimes Enabled Here”: Activists Call Out Albanese Subservience on Taking Parliament House

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Ongoing war crimes

Four members of Renegade Activists appeared atop Parliament House in Canberra midmorning on Thursday to unfurl banners expressing what many amongst us have become increasingly distraught about over recent months, which is that the Albanese government is enabling genocide.

“Today, antigenocide activists ascend federal parliament in an act of solidarity with our Palestinian, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kin,” said a statement from the collective sent out to coincide with the action.

“This 4th of July, we draw attention to the sub-imperial role Australia fulfils in its obsequious subservience to the US empire.”

War crimes

And an aspect of this nation’s role as US deputy sheriff in the Indo Pacific has always been that it support Israel on the international stage, alongside the US, no matter what. But it’s more than that, as Israel is a settler colonial state just like Australia.

What this has meant over the last ten months has been complicity in the gravest crime of all: genocide, specifically the Netanyahu government’s attempt to exterminate the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip: a 40-odd-kilometre-long stretch of land surrounded by a wall.

So, the people of this nation have borne witness to kids being bombed, hospitals attacked, medics and patients targeted as enemies and millions purposefully being starved right now.

And these horrors have been accompanied by an increasing realisation that our nation is complicit in the mass killing.

War crimes Palestine

The writings on the wall

“To the Albanese government: we will not forget, we will not forgive, and we will continue to resist,” Renegade Activists said on Thursday.

And their main banner hanging, just below the coat of arms, read, “War crimes enabled here”, and it further carried a litany of charges well documented on the historical record: “Frontier Wars, Vietnam, Timor Leste, West Papua, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.”

One must remember that in early October last year, the Albanese government was facilitating the referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, which aimed to, at least on the surface, bring the First Peoples of this continent into official conversations about their own affairs on their own land.

This was Labor attempting to heal the crimes of the Frontier Wars, the brutal invasion and ongoing usurping of this continent, but in the next breath, Albanese stood alongside the US and all its other vassal state leaders, to facilitate a colonial genocide upon an Indigenous people.

Suddenly, Labor was no longer about healing the crimes of the past, but instead, it was facilitating a colonial massacre against First Peoples for their land and resources, under the façade of “the right to defend”, with Albanese and the foreign minister chief proponents.

And those who managed to breach Parliament House security and simply drop banners from the roof of the nation’s seat of government highlighted these comparative situations in signing off their statement with, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free: Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.”

Renegade Activists
Renegade Activists

Arms to Israel spilling out

“Many of the war crimes committed and enabled by Australia have been carried out as an underling of US imperialism,” the Renegade Activists continued on Thursday. “The most pressing of which is US and Australian support for the genocidal state of Israel.”

Right now, the Australian government is resting on its laurels of having voted in support of a ceasefire back in December, alongside 152 other nations.

But as the activists on Tuesday pointed out, seven months later this nation is continuing to deal in a two-way trade in arms with Israel regardless.

“Presently, the Australian government is selling arms and parts for the weapons systems being used by the Israeli regime to commit war crimes and genocide,” the activists continued, pointing to a fact long understood over the time of this crisis, despite the government’s best efforts at fudging the truth.

Save the Children put out a May statement warning that “despite the Australian government claiming it is not currently exporting weapons to Israel, the notoriously secretive nature of Australia’s defence exports system leaves open the risk that other Australian-made products” are being sent.

The NGO adds there is potential for “explosives, chemicals, and radios” still “being exported to Israel and used by Israeli forces in Gaza”, whilst the likes of foreign minister Penny Wong and defence minister Richard Marles are able to continue to deny weapons exports, as these are “dual use” items.

“I again say what the deputy prime minister has said, Australia has not supplied weapons to Israel since the start of the Hamas-Israeli conflict,” Wong confirmed to the press in late November. And she’d also been repeatedly stating in parliament that this extended to the past five years.

Yet Greens Senator David Shoebridge repeatedly called out the minister over a set of figures on the DFAT website detailing export licences of arms and ammunition over the past five years, including recent months, while in December, Wong simply charged him with spreading misinformation.

Palestine will be free

Lies exposed

But this edifice of Albanese government spawned lies concealing the two-way trade in arms wasn’t too difficult a task to achieve considering, as Save the Children points out, the structures that Defence operates under are already designed to obscure from the truth of what it’s up to.

And as journalist Michelle Fahey recently exposed in Declassified Australia, the government has been able to make these claims as it uses a limited definition of weapons, which means it’s stating that we are not sending items to Israel, like tanks, missile launchers or combat aircraft.

But in terms of essential parts of weapons, well, Defence noted last October that “more than 70 Australian companies have directly shared more than $4.13 billion in global F-35 production and sustainment contracts”. And the US-produced F-35 jets are all-pervasive in the Gaza genocide.

So, Australian companies are continuing to send essential parts to the US, as part of the F-35 transnational production chain, and this process remains hidden because what is being exported are not weapons as the government describes them and neither are they being sent to Israel directly.

Fahey further points out that as the government’s claim that Australia has not sent weapons to Israel over the last five years is starting to show cracks, senior officials have shifted their language to explain while the nation may be contributing to weapons, that’s only via “non-lethal parts”.

At a 5 June estimates hearing Shoebridge described the situation to Defence officials as exporting to “a central pool in the US” and then washing their “hands of any responsibility for them” and these parts then contributing to lethal weapons used “in the genocide in Gaza”.

Fahey points out that Defence deputy secretary Hugh Jeffrey, during that hearing, let it slip that his department has 66 active export permits relating to Israel, some of which comprise ADF-owned equipment sent for repair, while the rest are “parts and components” or “technology exports”.

And the journalist further explains that this is the first time the department has admitted “it has active permits relating to Israel that cover the export of parts and components”, since the genocide in Gaza commenced.

“On this occasion of blood-soaked American flag waving,” the Renegade Activists made clear from the top of Parliament House in Canberra on the 4th of July, “we declare to the Australian government, we will continue to unmask you and to resist.”

“Exposing the masters of war is only the first step,” the group added, somewhat ominously.

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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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