Australian protests in support of Gaza

January 6, 2009

Pip Hinman, from Sydney Stop the War Coalition, held a shoe aloft — in tribute to Iraqi reporter Muntader al-Zaidi — to roars of approval from a 10,000-strong crowd in Sydney on January 4.

Shoe-throwing quickly became a symbol of anti-imperialist defiance after al-Zaidi threw a pair at US President George Bush. Hinman was standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza at one of many rallies around Australia calling for an end to Israel's brutal assault.

Nationally, the rallies brought large numbers of Arabic and Muslim people onto the streets in outrage at the horrendous suffering they are witnessing from afar. Many of the rallies were preceded by emergency actions on December 29-31, after Israel's attack was first reported.

Chaired by Rita Khoury from the newly formed Gaza Defence Committee, the Sydney rally was also addressed by Professor Peter Manning, Father Dave Smith from the Holy Trinity Anglican Church and Simon Flynn, who gave a message of solidarity on behalf of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the Maritime Union of Australia.

Also on January 4, 5000 people rallied in Melbourne, where Steve Dargavel, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union demanded that the federal government call on Israel to withdraw its forces.

Sue Bolton reported that, earlier in the week, a rally was organised by the Muslim community in Broadmeadows in Melbourne's west. The key message of the rally, which attracted 1000 people, was the need for ongoing protests to stop the Israeli aggression.

Five hundred people attended a solidarity protest in Brisbane on January 3. Dave Riley reported that the rally was boosted by a big contingent from the Middle-Eastern community.

Justice for Palestine has recently formed and is planning future protests. Stalls and vigils have been organised and another rally is planned for January 10.

Annas Abdullah chaired the rally on behalf of Justice for Palestine. Murri elder Bob Anderson also addressed the crowd.

Chris Latham in Perth reported that 500 people attended a demonstration organised by Friends of Palestine (WA) on January 4.

Speakers included federal Greens Senator Scott Ludlum, Giovanni Torre and Nick Everett from Friends of Palestine, and Viv Doymar from Code Pink. The rally demanded the Australian government boycott Israeli companies and cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.

In Adelaide, 170 people gathered on the steps of Parliament House on December 30, reported John Hawtin. The rally was organised by Australian Friends of Palestine (SA) and chaired by Bassam Daly. Speakers included Sandra Kanck, Democrats MLC, and federal Greens MP Sarah Hanson-Young.

In Newcastle, 20 people rallied on December 31, according to Steve O'Brien. On the same day, a protest was also organised in Armidale in Northern NSW by members of the New England branch of the Socialist Alliance.

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