As the death toll in Gaza rises over 350, millions of protestors all over the world are taking to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity for the Palestinian people.
In Brisbane, thousands of people gathered at King George Square to protest the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza demanding the Israeli government to quite their offensive in Gaza, while urging the Australian government to discontinue their support for the Israeli carnage.
The march was organized by the Socialist Alternative of Brisbane and the Students for Palestine from UQ and QUT, whereas other organizations such as the Queensland Greens, The Socialist Alliance and a number of Faith and Cultural community organizations also endorsed the protest.
As the march moved down Queen Street, various demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and other banners with defaced Israeli flags, replacing the Star of David with swastikas.
When the crowd moved into Charlotte street, the air was gassed with non-toxic smoke bombs to ignite the emotions even more.
The protestors chanted slogans such as“Free free Gaza, down down Israel,” and “ Tony Abbot, you can’t hide, you are supporting genocide” .
An estimated two thousand people gathered to demonstrate their disgust for the Israeli onslaught. After a very vocal march around the streets of Brisbane, the demonstrations ended with the protestors chanting “In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians.” Even though the protest was a peaceful one, the event was targeted by counter-demonstrators who tried to sabotage the peaceful nature of the protest by heckling the gathering and tried to instigate a violent reaction, but the trouble makers were immediately ushered away by the organizers before any disturbance erupted. Meanwhile the facebook page which promoted the event was targeted by spammers who posted comments such as, ‘it does not matter how big that protest will be tomorrow, or how many people in the world will protest against Israel, Israel will finish the job there soon. You and your friends can say and scream as much as you want.’
During his speech, a Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy spokesperson, Mr. Boe Spearim, inspired the people to keep fighting by citing the words of an aboriginal elder, “ As individuals we only dream. But once we come together, we make that dream a reality, ” he quoted.
Ms. Rutaba, a member of the students for Palestine and socialist alternative raised her voice to question the Tony Abbot government, “ Does Tony Abbot know the names of the 342 Palestinian men, women and children his government has backed to slaughter in Gaza?”
Mr. David Forde, a long time advocate for freedom in Gaza and an independent candidate for Stretton shared his disgust for the Abbot government’s numbness regarding this issue.
“There are only a handful of countries that support Israel’s oppressive occupation and expansionism – unfortunately, again one of them is our Australian government – and that includes both the government and opposition, with the exception of a few MPs and Senators,” Mr. Forde said.
“Yes a complete cease-fire must be supported to protect lives, but it must include a complete lifting of the illegal blockade, otherwise Palestinians will just keep dying – just more slowly,” he added.
To highlight the actions that people need to undertake, in order to pressurize the government to share the solidarity for the Palestinian people, he suggested, “Changing Australia’s position is a must. … Public pressure can do this. But this sort of political criticism in Australia is not only not tolerated, it is almost taboo.
“I ask you to undertake one simple step – do the one thing that politicians do not want you to do on this issue – that is engage with them – that is the one thing they don’t want you to do – because they don’t want this to be an issue for them. … At the end of the day, we vote them in; Same way, we can vote them out.”
He suggested that citizens contact their politicians directly using social media, letters and the telephone to make sure the level of concern is registered.
He also proposed ten questions people consider asking those politicians. Here are three:
- “Do you support a peace setlement for al based upon international law and UN Security Council Resolutions and an end to the ilegal occupation?”
- “Do you support Israel’s administrative detention of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children, who are denied due legal process and often kept in-prisoned for years without charge?”
- “What would you do it if was your home that was demolished, or your brother, mother, sister, son, daughter, father that was denied medical treatment or worse. What would you do?”
During his speech, Mr. Halim Rane, an associate professor for the school of humanities at Griffith university, said, “Israel has lost this war as far as the world public opinion is concerned.”
Phil Monsour, a singer and a songwriter, rephrased the lyrics of the song “we will rock you” by the Queens, into “We will boycott Israel”, to set the tone for the protest.
While the people of Gaza are facing the bloody consequences of Israel’s dramatic escalation of the 13-day conflict and Hamas’s intransigence in the face of mounting calls for a ceasefire. The Hamas leadership has come under increasing pressure from multiple international sources to accept an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Recently the French and Italian foreign ministers flew to Cairo, where negotiations have started to back Egypt’s call for a prompt de-escalation in the conflict. The Arab League has also backed Egypt’s call for a quick ceasefire, even as Israeli troops crossed the border into Gaza.
Meanwhile the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, a Hamas rival, had tried to negotiate with the representatives of Hamas and failed to achieve an agreement for truce. At Jordan’s request, the UN security council held an emergency meeting on Friday and afterwards an official announcement was made that the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, would be leaving for the Middle East to help mediate the conflict. When asked to comment about the efforts of the Arab League and the UN to extinguish the conflict in Gaza,
Mr. Leone Jordan, an Australian citizen and a Palestinian by blood, replied, “The Arab league and The UN are puppet organizations, the UN has been positioned there by America and other Western powers. The Arab League is another bunch of selfish sheiks who have their own interests in mind. Instead of demanding the Israeli government for a ceasefire, they are trying to negotiate with HAMAS representatives who are fighting with homemade rockets.”
“This is an asymmetric warfare between, Israelis backed by western military verses Palestinian fighters equipped with homemade rockets, in the besieged Gaza strip.
“The only reason these aristocrats are there, is to divert people’s attention to themselves while little children are being butchered. Kids who look like my children, my friends children, what if they were your children ? how would you react ? there’s no justification for this slaughter.
“Their efforts are a joke, a rhetoric, it’s finished. Their lies are being exposed. Don’t undermine the people’s intelligence, the people are smarter than that. Ban Ki Moon has no power, he’s just a puppet who continues the rhetoric, a puppet who says the same thing every year with no change.”
“Every two years we experience this kind of atrocities in Gaza, and funny enough, it always happens in the month of Ramadan. Why is that? The world is seeing through the rubbish of these politicians, people all over the world are protesting, and not because the mainstream media has done us any favors. It’s all because of social networking, people are seeing the inhuman acts that are committed against humanity.”
Ms. Rebecca Barrigos from the Socialist alternative of Brisbane supported Leone’s sentiment by stating, “This gathering is proof that the Palestinians who have resisted their repression for over 60 years do not stand alone. Western governments may give their unequivocal support to Israel but ordinary people who oppose oppression, who support justice, stand with Palestine and will continue to do so until Gaza is free.”
To see a photo album of Sunday’s protest, taken by the Westender‘s Sam Navin, Please go to: https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=ca49a020b7aa3e22&id=CA49A020B7AA3E22%21911&ithint=folder,.jpg&authkey=!AAt5vq2QwNvdwD0