Australia bore witness to a remarkable display of solidarity as more than 100,000 Australians joined together to stand with the Palestinian people last weekend in cities across the nation from Sydney to Melbourne and beyond.
Tens of thousands of people including men, women and children highlighted the plight of Palestinians under brutal Israeli occupation and seige for decades and condemned the ongoing killing of innocent people in Gaza as well as those in West Bank.
New South Wales: Sydney’s Resilience
The Sydney protest and march on Sunday 29 October was a significant gathering, drawing over 50,000 attendees. Organised by the Palestine Action Group Sydney, this event became a focal point for the Palestinian solidarity movement in Australia.
Ethan Lyon, a Wiradjuri activist, underscored the solidarity between Indigenous communities in Australia and Palestinians.
He declared, “On behalf of the Black Caucus and First Nations people in Sydney from Gadigal to Gaza, from Wiradjuri to the West Bank, from the grassroots struggle of Redfern all the way to Ramallah and the surrounding regions, from our invasion day to your nakba, Palestine will be free. Gadigal will be free, and indigenous will be free.”
Fathia Doer, a Palestinian elder born before the occupation in 1948, shared her family’s deeply personal experiences, highlighting the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by Palestinians. She decried Israel’s actions and their impact on the Palestinian people.
Amar Hamid, a midwife and trade unionist, expressed her distress regarding the targeting of hospitals in Gaza, pointing out the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.
Vivienne Porzsolt, a representative of Jews Against the Occupation, addressed the misinformation surrounding the Palestinian issue. She criticised certain actions of Zionist Jews and political leaders who support the ongoing conflict.
The final speaker was a Palestinian refugee from Gaza studying law in Sydney. She shared the heart-wrenching stories of her family in Gaza, including a near-death experience of an eight-year-old child and the destruction of her family home.
She emphasised that the homes targeted were not military bases but places where families lived, studied, and received medical care.
Students for Palestine – Wollongong University organised their second rally on Saturday 28 October in support for Palestine and its people. They demanded a “Free Palestine, an end to the brutal war on Gaza and that Australia cuts ties with apartheid Israel.”
Victoria: Melbourne’s Passionate Stand
APAN – Australia Palestine Advocacy Network organised a vigil at Federation Square on Friday 27 October. The purpose of the event was to raise the Palestinian flag in remembrance of the lives lost in Gaza.
An emotional slideshow featuring photos and the names of the children, men, and women who were killed was also displayed.
On Sunday 29 October, the rally at the State Library Victoria was a poignant expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The event drew over 50,000 attendees, and comedian Nazeem Hussain’s speech left an indelible impact on the crowd.
Nazeem began by expressing his initial optimism when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took office but quickly shifted to disappointment.
He criticised the government’s stance on the Palestinian issue, stating, “I never imagined that the same man who campaigned for the voice to elevate First Nations people, indigenous Australians, would a week later endorse and justify the brutal murder of indigenous Palestinians.”
He accused Albanese of justifying actions tantamount to war crimes and lamented the Australian government’s response to the crisis.
Nazeem questioned what it would take to garner empathy for the Palestinian people and drew parallels between the current situation and past events, such as the Iraq War, emphasising the role of media and government in shaping public opinion.
Nazeem criticised the misinformation surrounding the Palestinian people, saying, “And today we are again being lied to. We’ve been lied to on all fronts. They lied to us about Palestinians being human animals, trying to make people believe that Palestinians are savages so that their murders can be celebrated.”
He pointed out the historical inaccuracies in the narrative: “They lied to us that this war began on 7 October, even though Israel has been massacring, torturing, imprisoning, dispossessing the Palestinians for 75 years.”
“This is a war between power and justice. This is a war between power and the people… We understand that those who bully the Palestinians must also answer to all of us.” Nazeem said.
He acknowledged the loneliness that can accompany supporting Palestine but encouraged those in attendance: “Let us all here serve as a reminder that we are better than our politicians. And that courage, kindness, and love of justice are still to be found in this country.”
Australian Capital Territory: Canberra’s Call for Peace
In Canberra, the Palestine Action Group Canberra organised a rally in Garema Place on Friday 27 October. Attendees called for peace and humanitarian aid. Dr Paul Porteous shared his experiences in the Middle East and the challenges faced by community hospitals in Gaza. Dr Ala Mustafa, a pediatric cardiologist, stressed the healthcare crisis in Gaza, urging a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors.
Queensland: Brisbane’s Demand for Justice
Brisbane also saw hundreds attending a vigil on Friday 27 October, mourning the Palestinian lives lost and demanding an end to the conflict. The Justice for Palestine Meanjin – Brisbane Facebook page expressed gratitude to all participants and reaffirmed their commitment to the struggle for a #FreePalestine.
Western Australia: Perth’s Prominent Support
On Saturday 28 October, Perth saw a gathering of more than 4,000 people at Forrest Chase. Among them were prominent figures expressing their support for Palestinians.
Senators Mehreen Faruqi, Jordon Steele-John and Fatima Payman were among the attendees, showing their support for the cause.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming together today. I stand in solidarity with Palestinians. And I can tell you that you are not alone. The Greens are with you. I am with you. Senator Steele-John is with you and I will never be silenced on Palestine. We will never be silenced on Palestine,” Dr Faruqi said.
WA Labor Senator Fatima Payman addressed the gathering, emphasising the need to raise our voices not just on that day but in the days ahead.
She urged for a message of unity and hope, highlighting the importance of advocating for a ceasefire and seeking a just and lasting solution. She called on everyone to stand in solidarity for peace, justice, and compassion.
Tasmania: Hobart’s Vigil for Peace
Over 200 individuals congregated at a gathering in solidarity with Palestine on Saturday 28 October, at the intersection of Elizabeth and Macquarie Streets.
The vigil was organised by Friends of Palestine Tasmania, and was a solemn occasion dedicated to honouring the lives lost and the extensive devastation in Gaza.
Peta Fitzgibbon, President of Friends of Palestine, emphasised, “The equal worth of innocent lives, regardless of nationality, is an indisputable fact. It is undeniable that innocent children in Gaza bear the brunt of the actions of terrorists.”
The gathering received a remarkably positive response from the general public.
Many more rallies are scheduled on the upcoming weekend at major cities across Australia.