“When we think of Ukraine, so too should our thoughts be with the people of Palestine,” said Renee Lees, a Senate candidate for Socialist Alliance (SA) in Queensland on April 2.
“Both show amazing feats of courage and resistance under illegal and brutal military occupation. But while Ukraine rightly receives support, in the case of Palestinians the government sides firmly with the illegal military occupier.”
Pat O’Shane, SA candidate for Leichhardt and Australia’s first Indigenous magistrate told the protest: “The Australian state was founded on racist conquest and occupation. If elected, we’ll fight to end military ties with the state of Israel and to uphold international law and human rights at home and abroad.”
Vigils were called around Australia by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and Amnesty International to mark the birthday of imprisoned Palestinian aid worker Mohammed El Halabi, a former World Vision head in Gaza, who has been detained for more than six years by Israeli authorities.
Hala Hijleh, the Cairns organiser, said El Halabi was detained in 2016 on charges of diverting aid money to Hamas. The federal government and investigations by World Vision found no evidence of this. His trial, which has been neither fair nor transparent, has been in its concluding phase since last September. This is a common tactic by Israeli courts where Palestinian prisoners have been imprisoned on trumped up charges.
El Halabi's interrogation has included torture and beatings so severe he’s lost hearing. His legal team has been unable to access evidence. United Nations human rights experts said that his treatment and trial do not meet basic standards of a fair trial.
Jim McIlroy reported that Palestinian activist Shamikh Badra, Greens MP Jenny Leong and a representative of Amnesty International extended their solidarity to El Halabi at the Sydney rally. The action was supported by Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine.
[Supporters can email the Israeli minister of justice to release Mohammed El Halabi. Copies will be sent to Australian MPs.]