The Guardian April 24, 2002


Australian solidarity demonstrations

Demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle took place 
across Australia from Perth to Brisbane either on Friday evening or over 
the weekend. However, the previous demonstrations were generally larger as 
they had brought together a wider range of organisations.

In Sydney an estimated 2000 marched from Town Hall Square to the US 
Consulate in Martin Place after hearing a number of speakers, including Lee 
Rhiannon representing The Greens and Andrew Ferguson State Secretary of the 
CFMEU.

The CPA took part in this demonstration with a number of placards, a 
leaflet distribution and with a banner calling on Israel to withdraw its 
armed forces from the Palestinian West Bank.

Adelaide

At the demonstration in Adelaide, Ibrahim Farran of the Palestinian Human 
Rights organisation spoke of the failure of the Oslo agreements concluded 
in 1993. They failed because of the underlying fact that Israel had no 
intention of complying with UN resolutions.

Mr Farran challenged the statements, including one from Australia's Prime 
Minister, that the proposals put forward at the Camp David meeting 
represented a "generous offer" to the Palestinians. The media has helped 
perpetuate the fiction that this included 97 per cent of the territory 
claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state.

Mr Farran told the gathering that he had shown a map to Australia's Foreign 
Minister, Alexander Downer showing that "there is no 97 per cent. The 
Israelis want corridors, security zones and access to this and that", said 
Mr Farron.

He pointed out that since 1993, the Israelis have doubled the number of 
settlers and the number of settlements on Palestinian land.

"They say they want peace", he said. "The confrontation that occurred in 
the last weeks has been planned for months to bludgeon the Palestinians 
into submission. The Palestinian suicide bombers are the sign of absolute 
desperation, absolute humiliation at the hands of the Israelis.

"We do not need peace conferences or peace processes anymore", said Mr 
Farran. What we need is peace and the full implementation of UN resolutions 
242 and 238" (These resolutions call for the complete withdrawal of Israel 
to its pre-1967 war borders).

Melbourne

At a Saturday morning demonstration in Melbourne, Andrew Irving CPA CC 
member was among a number of speakers.

He said, "We have watched in horror the most recent crimes committed 
against the Palestinian people by the Israeli army" and criticised the 
reaction of the Australian and international governments and the press to 
the atrocity being committed.

"Compare the wall-to-wall wailing and indignation following September 11 to 
the callous commentary, excuses and rhetoric that shares blame between the 
criminal Israel and the Palestinian victim", said Mr Irving.

Perth

In Perth about 250 people attended at the Perth Cultural Centre. Speakers 
from a range of organisations including the Islamic Community, the DSP and 
Resistance addressed the demonstration.

Two people were arrested by police after the US flag was burned and some 
other people were requested to give their names to police.

Brisbane

About 700 people took part in the Brisbane march last Friday evening. 
Speakers included Ali Kazak, the Head of the Palestine Delegation to 
Australia and Roger Jarrett, the National Secretary of the Rail Tram and 
Bus Union (RTBU).

Mr Jarrett strongly condemned Ariel Sharon as a "war criminal" and detailed 
Sharon's role back to Israel's war against her Arab neighbours in 1967. He 
also called on the Australian trade union movement to take a stand on this 
issue.

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