Hundreds march on Peter Khalil’s office, a second time, calling for ceasefire

November 20, 2023
Marching on Peter Khalil MP's office. Photo: Luis

Hundreds marched on Labor MP Peter Khalil’s electorate office in Wills, on November 18, to demand he support a ceasefire.

Merri-bek Councillors Sue Bolton, Monica Harte and James Conlan, along with activists from the northern suburbs joined forces to organise the march.

It was the second such protest, which also demanded Khalil call for the siege of Gaza to be lifted immediately to allow for unlimited supplies into Gaza.

At Bell Street Reserve, residents chanted “Shame, shame, Peter, Shame!” and “Peter Khalil, you can't hide, you’re supporting genocide”, before marching down Sydney Road.

Palestinian-Australian Tanya Abo Shaban, who lost members of her family, told the rally that “day 42” of the war on Gaza was “42 days of no electricity, no access to water or aid”.

Abo Shaban added: “We know that all the atrocities in Palestine have been happening for longer than 42 days. The Palestinian people have been subjugated to a 75-year occupation and their cries for freedom have been met with a death sentence.

What is happening is “not a conflict” and “nor is it war”, Abo Shaban said, because that implies “the warring groups are on equal footing.

“Israel is an apartheid state and an occupying force, oppressing and exterminating the Palestinian people. We are witnessing the ethnic cleansing of the Traditional Owners of the land and our leaders do nothing but talk.”

 Abo Shaban said Khalil must listen to his community. “We all have families and friends in Palestine that are dying. We have all lost someone. We want a ceasefire now!

 Dr Jazmine, a health worker, said: “To sit and stay silent, to not call out this gross injustice … is a failure of our profession.

“The siege of 2.2 million people, the unrelenting bombardment of civilians and healthcare workers, the complete annihilation of the healthcare workers — that’s a nakba.”

 Anab Mohamud, a Greens Yarra councillor, said: “Yes, the hostages were taken in Israel on the 7th of October. I have seen the outrage. I would like to have seen that same outrage since 1948.”

James Williams, a First Nations person and a Greens national co-convenor said his party wants an immediate ceasefire.

Dr Shoshana Rosenberg, a Queer anti-zionist Jew and independent researcher and Mohammed Helmy who organised a Palestine prayer vigil in Broadmeadows the previous night also addressed the protest. 

Helmy, an Egyptian-Australian, condemned the Egyptian government for refusing to open the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to allow for vital supplies.

Muad, a Palestinian-Australian, who has lost 30 members of his family in an air strike, was too grief-stricken to speak.

Bolton said many other families are similarly grief-struck. “It’s what happened to the Rohingya people in Burma and it’s what happened to many First Nations people in this country.”

Jacob Andrewartha, a national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance, said a mass movement of ordinary working people who kept mobilising was the only reason the West was eventually forced to stop supporting South African Apartheid. “That is why we can’t stop marching; we have to keep building support for Palestine; we have to continue to protest.”

The march was organised after Merri-bek Council passed a motion condemning Israel’s genocide against Palestinians, supporting a ceasefire and the lifting of the siege and flying the Palestinian flag.

Afshan Mantoo, from the Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria, moved a motion calling on Khalil to resign for “not standing up for the values of the people of this land”. It was endorsed by everyone at the rally.

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