Photos by Kiraz Janicke and Pip Hinman.
The Sydney Al-Nakba rally and march — marking 64 years since the ruthless dispossession of Palestinians from their historic homeland — went off successfully on May 15 despite attempts by NSW police to have it moved or cancelled.
Organisers say about 500 people took part in the march. The event was all the more poignant for the protesters since the NSW Supreme Court had the previous day dismissed the NSW Commissioner of Police’s attempt to derail it.
In her judgement, the Honorable Justice Adamson noted that Nakba day is a “product of history” and said: “Nakba Day ought to be regarded as a day which, like ANZAC Day, Christmas Day or Australia Day, is referable to a particular date which is not movable”.
Al-Nakba, or “the Catastrophe”, is when Palestinians mark the Israeli takeover of their villages and towns in 1948.
In reality, the process of ethnically cleansing Palestinian inhabitants took several years. About 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled or fled. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were destroyed. Most Palestinian refugees, including those outside the 1949 armistice lines at the end of the war, and those internally displaced, were barred by the colonial settler state of Israel from returning. They are still denied the right of return.
Today, a younger generation of Palestinians and their supporters also use this date to highlight the many other human rights abuses against Palestinians — thereby fusing even more significance to the protest.
Sydney Palestine solidarity activist and participant in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Michael Coleman, said the police attempt to close down the march was “part of the broader attempt … to criminalise solidarity with the Palestinians”.
Patrick Langosch, a protest organiser who defended the action against the police in the Supreme Court, said: “I don't believe concern for traffic was the real reason the police took us to court". He added, "This time it backfired for the police and has only made our [solidarity] movement [for Palestine] stronger.”