- by Ryan Burley
- The Guardian
- Issue #1962
On the 15th of May, around 100 people gathered at Parliament House in Nipaluna/Hobart for a sombre and respectful vigil to commemorate Nakba Day. The vigil was organised by the Friends of Palestine Tasmania (TasFOP).
Speakers included President of TasFOP Peta Fitzgibbon and Adel Yousif, member of TasFOP and senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania.
“The violence experienced is always disproportionately endured by Palestinians,” said Fitzgibbon in her opening address with reference to the current situation in Gaza.
“Today’s commemoration and the violence experienced then and now, is a reminder that the Nakba of 1948 continues,” Fitzgibbon said. “Millions of Palestinians have remained refugees ever since that time, many of them stateless.”
Although not being able to attend the vigil, both Ella Haddad of the Tasmanian Labor Party and Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie extended messages of solidarity.
“It is heartbreaking in the extreme,” said Haddad in a statement read at the vigil, “to see the continuing violence and the continuing loss of innocent civilian life.” Haddad’s own grandparents were forced out of Palestine in 1948.
Dr Adel Yousif – a third-generation member of the Palestinian diaspora – delivered a passionate address calling on all those present at the vigil to continue their support for the Palestinian cause.
“We cannot accept the state of Israel in its present state,” Yousif said. “Either it is a democratic state or it is an apartheid state. Presently, it’s an apartheid state.”
In a report published in April 2021, Human Rights Watch concluded “that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territory). In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid.”
“We can only change this apartheid – this colonising situation – with your help,” Yousif said to those gathered for the vigil.