NSW Premier, police threaten Palestinian Australians and supporters

October 13, 2023
Palestinian-Australians and supporters protest Israel's bombardment of Gaza on October 9. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

NSW Labor and NSW Police are pulling out all stops to intimidate Palestinian Australians and their supporters from protesting Israel’s horrific attack on the 2.3 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

Organisers of a Stop the War on Gaza protest on October 15 at 1pm at Hyde Park, one of several taking place this weekend, have been told to cancel the rally.

The protest is going ahead. It is calling for an end to Israel’s war on Gaza, an end to its blockade of food, water, fuel and medical supplies, an end to the occupation and for Australia to cut ties with apartheid Israel.

Acting NSW Police commissioner Hudson said he was looking into powers to “lock down the city”.

“The powers [in the Law Enforcement Act 2002] are extensive”, Acting Commissioner David Hudson told the ABC on October 13.

They include police being able to search attendees without reasonable cause and request identification, where failure to provide relevant documents would be deemed an offence. They also include general and personal search and seizure powers.

Amal Naser, a co-organiser of the Palestine Action Group (PAG), said on October 13 that the government and police response to an emergency rally on October 9 has been “draconian”.

“What we have seen in the past week in NSW is a draconian attack on our right to demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Palestine, who are currently facing a genocide in Gaza.”

Naser likened it to the NSW Police response to climate justice protesters and Black Rights protesters in recent years.

Pro-Palestine protestors will be “out, loud and proud, and we’re not going to bow down to the pressures that we’ve been experiencing from police and the premier”, Naser said.

The Council for Civil Liberties, trade unions and other peak bodies issued an open letter on October 11 calling on Premier Chris Minns to affirm his support for the right to protest.

Josh Pallas, NSW Council of Civil Liberties president, said Sunday’s rally could not be deemed “unauthorised” because it would be held in Hyde Park. “We all have the right to protest and engage in free speech,” he said.

Police Minister Yasmin Catley announced that roads in the CBD would be blocked as part of Operation Shelter.

“It’s another blow to the right to protest which has already been savaged in this state,” Pallas said, adding that “the right to non-violent protest is as fundamental as freedom of speech, association and assembly”.

An open letter to the NSW Premier to affirm support for the right to protest has been signed by by the National Tertiary Education Union NSW Division, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Centre for International Justice, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Community Legal Centres Australia, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Australian Democracy Network, Human Rights Law Centre and the Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch.

The PAG has condemned all forms of racism, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia. “Ours is a struggle against the state of Israel, not against Jewish people, many of whom oppose Zionism, and who have a long history of being part of our movement for a free Palestine.” It said anyone wishing to express anti-semitic views is not welcome at its protests.

[Protests for Palestine are being held in several cities this weekend. Join one.]


Protesting for Palestine in Gadi/Sydney on October 9. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

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