Melissa Parke, the retiring Labor Federal MP for Freemantle, has urged the Muslim community to take the plight of the Palestinians to their local state and federal MPs.
“I would encourage the Muslim community to be proactive in talking to MPs,” she requested in an interview with AMUST.
“(Muslims should) encourage their MPs to have a visit to Palestine. If (their MPs) do go to Israel then to make sure they have a balanced trip and see the Palestinian point of view,” she added.
“If their local member is already supportive, ask them to speak to another MP about the issue.”
Ms Parke was the key speaker at a dinner held by the Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine (AJPP) at the Canberra Labor Club on Friday 6 May.
She was the Minister for International Development in the second Rudd ministry and has been a prominent advocate for human rights, refugees, public services integrity and foreign policy.
In federal parliament she had been an active member of the bipartisan Australian Parliamentary Friends of Palestine.
It was in her earlier career as a lawyer to the United Nations that she saw for herself the impact of conflict and oppression in places such as Kosovo, Lebanon and Gaza.
In introducing Ms Parke to speak at the dinner, Dr Kevin Bray, Chair of AJPP described her as vocal supporter for the rights of Palestinians.
Ms Parke, in her speech at the dinner, reminded guests of the gross imbalance between Israel and Palestine and the daily atrocities committed by Israel on Palestinians, UN workers, international observers and aid workers, most of which are under-reported, not investigated thoroughly and then forgotten.
She said that lives of Palestinians are severely restricted including access to water and arable land.
“Israel claims these measures are necessary for its security,” she explained. “But if you look at the circuitous route of the wall, for example, you will see it has very little to do with security.”
She sees Israel moving from the current hope of a two-state solution to one of blatant apartheid.
Moreover she sees that the internal debate within Israel is being heavily stifled as Israel lurches further to the right.
“If the international community does not act fast, then it may be too late for the two state solution due to the number of settlements,” she warned.
Ms Parke also impressed upon the audience the importance of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “which has attracted a lot of negative publicity in Australia.”
She clarified that BDS is not anti-semitic and not all the companies targeted are Jewish.
“BDS must be understood as legitimate form of non-violent protest against incessant violation of international law,” she pointed out.
On 4 May, her Valedictory address in parliament, war against indifference must go on, was a heart warming but challenging speech to the nation and in particular her ex-colleagues in
parliament, in which she described Australia’s asylum seeker policy as a ‘festering wound that is killing people.’
The speech can be seen and read on her website:
The AJPP can be contacted via their Facebook page:
See all the photos of the event below