The Sydney Stop the War Coalition organised a hastily-called protest against the latest Western bombing raid on Syria on April 18. It condemned the Australian government and Labor opposition that were quick to support to the United States, French and British attack, which was launched in retaliation to the reported Syrian regime chemical gas attack on April 7 in which more than 40 people were killed.
The anti-war coalition said that while the Syrian government was responsible for large numbers of civilian deaths in the long-running civil war, the US Donald Trump administration is recklessly escalating the war and death toll, including risking a direct confrontation with Russia.
The coalition called for: no support for US-NATO bombing raids; unhindered access for Organisations for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons staff to all sites of alleged chemical weapons attacks and sites of manufacture; a ceasefire on all sides and negotiated political settlement; no Australian arms sales to the Middle East; and to increase the intake of Syrian refugees.
Speakers included Greens Legislative Council member Dr Mehreen Faruqi; Maher Jamous, a Syrian film producer and refugee and activist with the Syria Solidarity Australia campaign group; and Nick Riemer, a unionist, refugee rights activist and a linguistic and English academic at the University of Sydney.
Also addressing the protest was Dima Al-Msodny, a refugee from Iraq and Rojava Solidarity Sydney activist. Her speech is published below. You can see all of the speeches at the Sydney Stop the War FB page.
I’d like to start by acknowledging that we are on stolen land that belongs to Aboriginal people who still endure war and occupation.
I’m here today to condemn, in the absolute strongest possible words, the US-NATO bombing of Damascus. The US once again has shown its hypocrisy and absolute disregard for human rights by attacking Syria.
As Israel massacres peaceful protesters in Gaza, Iraq is still trying to recover from complete destruction from the US war and occupation, and Libya languishes in war and tribalism, the US bombs innocent civilians and destroys war-torn Syria even more.
The human rights officials that went into Douma should have been left to investigate the chemical bombs that [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad also uses.
The US once again has to prove it is the big guy in this warlordism; it has broken every human rights convention.
Those living in the Middle East are already living World War III — caught up in the ongoing horrific civil wars that have been given more fuel by the Western bombing and occupation, and which have birthed the world’s most barbaric force — ISIS.
Australia’s government immediately jumped on board to support Trump. This comes as no surprise, given Australia’s bloody role in oppressing people overseas and here.
Assad is a dictator, who worked with the US, who sent him people to torture on its behalf. Assad has a reputation for being a brute. His regime is infamous for corruption, oppression and repression of locals.
The Kurds, a stateless group in the region, are one community that he systematically oppressed — from ethnic cleansing to arbitrary arrests to horrific misogynist war crimes.
Assad’s regime is definitely not a genuine anti-imperialist force, whatsoever. Neither are some of the rebels who are fighting him. They too have been guilty of warlordism and the massacring of innocent civilians in the autonomous region in North Syria, the Kurdish-led, but multi-ethnic Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.
Since the start of the year, Turkey has been committing horrendous aggression against Afrin — one of the cantons in the autonomous region in North Syria. Tens of thousands have fled the place, ironically including many Syrians who had been living there as refugees from other parts of the country.
The US did nothing while Turkey used napalm and chemical weapons on civilians. Western powers seem to think they have a license to destroy democratic, autonomous and inclusive societies they don’t want to see grow and prosper.
I’m an Iraqi refugee from an ethno-religious minority.
I have an immense amount of disgust and contempt for the US government and its war supporters, such as the Australian government.
We have to continue to call it out if we’re to even have a future. That means we will have to be ready and prepared to make these protests bigger and bigger because we know they don’t care about ordinary people’s lives, and war is big business for the merchants of death.
The colonial state of Australia not only actively supports and encourages bombings and invasions of our lands in the Middle East, it thrives on stolen land and the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples, as well continuing its world-infamous brutality against refugees, including Arab Syrians and Kurds alike.