Several hundred members of the Palestinian community along with supporters from all walks of life rallied at the State Library on Friday to mark the 61st anniversary of some see as the birth of the state of Israel, but others as the catastrophe that overtook the people of Palestine on that day. Also remembered was the ongoing struggle of Indigenous people in Australia, and the sufferings of Tamils in their homeland.
The rally began with an acknowledgment of Aboriginal ownership of the land, and a minute’s silence for the dead. There were several speakers, and a group of Palestinian dancers. Then a march to Federation Square, to join a vigil in protest at the current killings in Sri Lanka.
Some of the following images are included in a slideshow on YouTube:
Some of the banners and placards at the rally:
(Sondos Ismael was on board the SIEVX, which sank on 19 October 2001 on route from Indonesia to Christmas Island, with the loss of 353 lives. She survived, and was eventually reunited with her husband in Australia, but her three young daughter drowned. See http://www.tonykevin.com.au/TheTragedy.html)
Some of the speakers:
The leaflet Hisham is waving is a key part of the campaign to boycott transport company Connex, which currently runs Melbourne’s train network and is tendering for a renewal of the contract. It has also won a contract for a light rail system connecting Jewish settlements on the West Bank – see the link to Dump Connex.
As already mentioned, the rally ended with a march to Federation Square, where it merged with a vigil held by the Tamil community. Pratheepan Balasubramanian spoke at the rally, tracing the history of the present conflict back to the end of British colonial rule and the creation of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 1948, the same year as the ‘birth’ of Israel.
Here is the text of what she said:
On behalf of the Indigenous Social Justice Association — Melbourne, greetings! On the occasion of the 61st anniversary Al Nakba we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We support this struggle as we support the Tamils, Maori, West Papuans and indeed all oppressed nations battling occupation, theft of land, suppression of culture and genocidal practices.
It is vital that we acknowledge that we too are standing on occupied land and that Aboriginal Australians experienced their own catastrophe in 1788.
Just as anti-Zionist Jews in Israel must take action to stop the atrocities of the Israeli State, every one of us has a responsibility to make the connections and integrate the struggle to win justice for Indigenous Australians into every aspect of our organising.
The apartheid state of Israel is not only a catastrophe for the Palestinian people, it is also a death trap for Jewish people who want to live in peace. Because there can be no peace without justice. And there can be no justice when Palestinian refugees have no right of return, live in crowded refugee camps and have their miserable fragments of territory divided by an apartheid wall, Zionist settlements and roads and restrictive checkpoints.
And there can be no peace in this country built on the theft of Aboriginal land when Aboriginal people continue to die in custody, have their incomes quarantined, see their languages disappearing, die too young and live in overcrowded and poorly maintained homes.
But what we do really does make a difference. When we build international multi-racial coalitions, draw the links and challenge land theft and occupation we are a force to be reckoned with. And our message must be clear — without real justice, there can be no damn peace!
Before the march set off, a group of Palestinian dancers took the ‘stage’:
On the march:
At Federation Square, where the Tamil vigil is in progress: