Thousands of Kiwis rally for Palestine in Day of Action

21 Aug

 

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AUCKLAND:

There was a great turnout around New Zealand for the Freedom for Palestine rallies held in eight centres around the country on the weekend. The ‘National Day of Action’ was an historic occasion – the first & largest-ever string of solidarity protests for Palestine across the country.

Perhaps the highlight of the Auckland rally, which was not reported by the media, was when 93-year-old Holocaust survivor Gunter Warner addressed the 2000-strong gathering in the Aotea Square.

 Here is Gunter’s talk on Youtube – he is introduced by Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty:

Gunter’s moving comments deserve wide reporting and we invite the media to use his comments and interview him in future reporting. It represents the strong and growing voice of Jewish opposition to the racist policies of the Israeli government. 

– John Minto (Palestine Solidarity Network)

 

 

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WHANGAREI

On Sat 16 August people in Whangarei organised a rally, to mark Aotearoa’s National Day Of Action for Palestine, at the farmers market in central Whangarei from 7am until midday.

We had as always our memorial wall where we invited the public to write personal messages to the victims of the latest assault on Gaza in our attempt to humanize Palestinians and identify with the victims. We created and distributed flyers giving information, facts and actions.

We also encouraged the writing of permanent messages on flags and a large fabric banner which we will take to every action and continue to add to. Volunteers also distributed banners within the market and collecting donations in buckets for our latest action.  

– Debbie Abbas

 

 

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HAMILTON

“Free Palestine” was the message on the mouths and minds of 300 people at a rally in Garden Place during a nationwide Day of Action.

Organiser Shayma’a Arif said the rally was the first of its kind that she had seen in the Waikato, and planned to host more events raising awareness about the situation in Gaza. “We would like to do a march, but at the moment we’re trying to find a location we can march to.”

People from all walks of life carried banners proclaiming “Let Gaza Live”, “Stop the killing of God’s children” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” during the Saturday event.

“It was so humbling to see so many people represented by different groups,” Arif said.

A small group of people bearing Israeli flags set up camp at the back of the protest, but did not disrupt the rally, Arif said.

“They were there doing what they wanted to do and we were doing what we wanted to do, and after a while they packed up and left.”

Arif said Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists gathered at the rally. Among the guest speakers was Wintec tutor John Mandelberg, who is Jewish.

 Eman Khalas, a Muslim living in Hamilton, said she went along in support of the innocent people being attacked in Gaza. “I see these innocent children being murdered. I lost a child at birth so I know the feeling of a mother or father losing their child. People need to know we are not happy with what is happening.”

The rally was organised by the Students for Justice in the Middle East and the Hamilton Palestinian Human Rights Campaign, said Arif, who’s an Iraqi-Syrian law and political sciences student.

The rally prompted the formation of the campaign group, who have said this is “just the beginning” of events promoting justice for Palestinians.

“This [rally] isn’t a one off thing. It’s not going to go away, this,” committee member Bruce Clark said.

 Clark said the group was looking to subscribe to a global campaign by the Palestinian Civil Society called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), that advocates using economic pressure against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

 Clark stressed that the group was “not anti-Semitic, we are pro-humanity”.

By Rachel Thomas, Waikato Times 18 August 2014 – Front page. (Slightly abridged)

 

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MT RUAPEHU

Palestinians deserve the right to visit New Zealand just as Israelis do. The fact that many of them can’t leave and return to their homeland demonstrates that Israel is an apartheid state, and NZ supports it. Supporting the National Day of Action from Mt. Ruapehu.

– Chris Hartnett

 

 

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HAWKES BAY

About 80 of us came together with our banners and flags on Saturday to rally for Gaza in Hastings. MCed by Kahungunu kaumatua Ngatai Huata, we heard a range of speakers from the Muslim community, from the Greens, Mana and individual activists, we heard poems, we cried and sang songs, and ended with a march to the cenotaph to lay olive branches and wreaths there to symbolize the loss of life in Gaza and the hope for peace and freedom for their people.

– Maxine Boag.

 

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PALMERSTON NORTH

It was a beautiful sunny weather in Palmerston North when the friendly protest kicked off at 2pm by a small speech from twelve year old Omar Arafeh, who gave an informative talk about the current situation and the goals of the march. There were two Israeli supporters that stood right in front of our rally hoping to stop it but people marched peacefully around the obstacle with no issues.

As per the first protest children took the lead of the march and also chanted for Gaza and the freedom of Palestine.

Video by Clark Ellery

The march was about half an hour walk to the Palmerston North city centre “the Square”.  More than 200 people attended the day.  Our special guest speaker Dr Nigel Parsons gave a very heart touching talk about the Palestinian case and historical background. Followed by fourteen year old Humzah Arafeh who talked about the suffering children of Gaza.  Manawatu Muslim Association president Hazem Arafeh also gave a speech about the history and importance of freeing Palestine.  Our last speaker was Labour MP Iain Lees-Gallaway who spoke of the political issues around the conflict.

People donated generously when we sold many copied of “Recipes for Gaza” book. To place an order or for more information https://www.facebook.com/RecipesforGaza?ref=hl

Many people commented of how much knowledge and understanding they have experienced through this peaceful protest.  The police was impressed of everyone’s behaviour and appreciated the learning as well.

Over all an extremely positive experience for all.

– Ola Mohamed Aly

 

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WELLINGTON:

 The rally on Saturday brought about some 400 people, and the beautiful sunshine meant even more supporters were seen joining the march half way through! Highlights included laying down the flowers in honour of the more than 2000 Palestinians dead. Most protesters respected our zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism/Islamophobia/racism of any sort and engaging with a variety of people on the day and afterwards at a cafe was very inspiring. We were able to get post-cards signed to send of to super-fund to further try to persuade Adrian Orr and everyone was keen to get amongst and help out on the day!

– Shahd El-Matary

 

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CHRISTCHURCH:

More Than 600 Attend Emotional Rally in Christchurch

Tears flowed as hundreds of people gathered in Christchurch yesterday. The rally organised by ‘Canterbury for Justice in Palestine’, marking a National Day of Action to end Israel’s massacre in Gaza, saw more than 600 people march up Riccarton Rd to Shand Crescent Reserve.

Close to 400 white balloons, each bearing the name of a dead Palestinian child, were released in a highly emotional finale that saw the beautiful blue sky above dotted with hundreds of flying white balloons; a poignant representation of the number of little lives lost as a result of Israel’s actions in Gaza.

One of the organisers, Donna Miles, addressing the crowd as a mother, spoke emotionally to humanise the dead Palestinian children who she said were often referred to as just a number in the media. “I am here out of love and respect. I am here out of love and respect for Yasmin whose name is attached to this balloon that I hold. Yasmin was only 4 years old when her life, her dreams, and her future were snatched away from her by Israeli rockets,” she said. Miles added, “I think a lot about you Yasmin. What was your favourite colour? Your favourite food? Were you alone when you died? Or in the arms of your mother? Were you frightened sweetheart? Did you scream for help? Did anyone come to you? Did you feel pain?”

Co-organiser Lauren McGee says the New Zealand Government must take action now on the continuing violence and war in Gaza. “We are calling on the Government to close the Israeli Embassy in Wellington. Enough is enough and we are showing the world that this continuing murder of women and children is totally unacceptable to New Zealand and New Zealanders.”.

McGee and Miles say the more than 600 people who gathered for the rally, should send a strong message to the Government that action must be taken to stop the unbridled loss of innocent life.

– Canterbury for Justice in Palestine 

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DUNEDIN:

Around a hundred people came to protest the occupation of Palestine, calling for an end to the inhumanity and the lifting of the siege. Protesters marched from the Otago museum to the Octagon, chanting, “Killing children is a crime, free free Palestine!” and “Israel you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” Speakers included Roger Tobin from Unions Otago, Shane Gallagher from the Green Party, Brian Roper from the ISO and SJP’s very own Su’ad Muse. Despite the lack of media coverage, many passersby showed their support as we marched on by.

– Nadiah Mahadi

 

 

2 Responses to “Thousands of Kiwis rally for Palestine in Day of Action”

  1. Ton August 19, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    I am proud to have joined the Gaza protest demonstration in Christchurch. I was also quite pleased with the numbers that turned up. I would however have expected more high school students. Perhaps next time we could focus more on local schools to join.

  2. qualandar August 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    Reblogged this on Muslim World Today.

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