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.