The Guardian • Issue #2093

‘Keato’ speaks out after arrest

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2093
Paul 'Keato' Keating

Paul Keating. Photo: care of “Aust Friends of Irish Unity” on X.

Following his arrest for protesting against the ZIM shipping line at Port Botany, the Guardian contacted Paul Keating, also known as ‘Keato.’ Here is what he said:

On Palestine

A majority of people reject politicians’ complete failure to act in this situation. Countries like Australia could do much more. Without question, the majority of people have great sympathy for the people of Palestine.

We’ve seen apartheid before, propped up by global capital.  That’s what’s happening in Palestine. Israel is a settler state and an apartheid state. The cruelty of this attack is increasing by the minute and politicians aren’t acting. Israel is a rogue government. The Albanese government must put sanctions on Israel.

Arab communities here are  deeply traumatised by what’s going on. I’ve met a man who’s lost 28 members of his family in Gaza. We know what it’s like to lose a loved one. We can only imagine what he’s going through.

On Protest

What happened also highlights, in this country and in NSW, authoritarian laws which are the worst in the western world. Police have no hesitation using the powers given them by these laws. We’ve seen a lot of overreach by the police. We saw it at protests last November, when there were an estimated 200 police in Port Botany. I’m used to protest rallies and marches. We’ve marched with the international dockers movement for all sorts of reasons. I’ve never seen such a police turnout.

They came out for a reason; to intimidate the community with a show of force. The vast majority of protesters with us were Australians from Western Sydney, mums and dads. We’ve got deep links with our community. Police were menacing at the last protest, and it was a different response. They were clearly in no position to negotiate in terms with leaders. Violence was unnecessary, these were peaceful demonstrations.

I say shame on Chris Minns for endorsing the police intimidation, and their excessive response. I think he’ll see an impact in the ballot box.

ON THE MUA

The Maritime Union of Australia has always been on the right side of history, standing with the oppressed. It has stood with the Palestinian people for 75 years. My members fully support and have sympathy for the Palestinian cause. We’re very connected to our membership, like dockers all over the world. I’m the zone coordinator for the Asia-Oceania region, so I’m very involved in the union’s international involvement.

Six MUA members were arrested at that rally. If the shipping industry doesn’t want the protest at ports, they can declare they’re not going to move Israeli goods in and out.

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