Recommended Sponsor - Buy Original Artwork Directly from the Artist

Asia Pacific Report

About 5000 protesters calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to Israeli’s genocidal  war on Gaza took today part in a rally in Auckland’s Te Komititanga Square and a march up Queen Street in the business heart of New Zealand’s largest city.

This was one of a series of protests across more than 25 cities and towns across Aotearoa New Zealand in one of the biggest demonstrations since the war began last October 7.

Many passionate Palestinian and indigenous Māori speakers and a Filipino activist condemned the Israeli settler colonial project over the destruction caused in the occupation of Palestinian lands and the massive loss of civilian lives in the war.

The most rousing cheers greeted Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick who condemned the killing of “more than 30,000 innocent civilian lives” — most of them women and children with International Women’s Day being celebrated yesterday.

“The powers that be want you to think it is complicated . . .,” she said. “it’s not. Here’s why.

“We should all be able to agree that killing children is wrong.

“We should all be able to agree that indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians who have been made refugees in their own land is wrong,” she said and was greeted with strong applause.

“Everybody in power who disagrees with that is wrong.”

‘Stop the genocide’
Chants of shame followed that echoing the scores of placards and banners in the crowd declaring such slogans as “Stop the genocide”, “From Gaza to Paekākāriki, this govt doesn’t care about tamariki. Free Palestine”, “Women for a free Palestine”, “Unlearn lies about Palestine”, “Food not bombs for the tamariki of Gaza”, “From the river to the sea . . . aways was, always will be. Ceasefire now.”

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick addressing the crowd
Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick (third from left) addressing the crowd . . . “killing children is wrong.” Image: David Robie/APR

Three young girls being wheeled in a pram held a placard saying “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud, turn another ship around”, in reference to a protest against the New Zealand government joining a small US-led group of nations taking reprisals against Yemen.

The Yemeni Houthis are blockading the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestine to prevent ships linked to Israel, UK or the US from getting through the narrow waterway. They say they are taking this action under the Genocide Convention.

Swarbrick vowed that the Green Party — along with Te Māori Pati — the only political party represented at the rally, would pressure the conservative coalition government to press globally for an immediate ceasefire, condemnation of Israeli atrocities, restoration of funding to the Palestine refugee relief agency UNRWA, and expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.

Meanwhile, as protests took place around the country, national chair John Minto of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) declared on social media from Christchurch that “[Prime Minister] Christopher Luxon and [Foreign Minister] Winston Peters can’t find the energy to tweet for an end to Israel’s genocidal starvation of Palestinians in Gaza”.

He added that Israel continued to turn away humanitarian convoys of desperately needed aid from northern Gaza.

“But PM Christopher Luxon has been silent while FM Winston Peters has been indolent.”

Palestine will be free"
Palestine will be free” . . . three friends show their solidarity for occupied Palestine. Image: David Robie/APR

Death toll rising
Al Jazeera reports that the death toll is ris­ing as Is­rael in­ten­si­fies at­tacks on Rafah in southern Gaza, and also in cen­tral Gaza.

Three more children have died of malnutrition and dehydration at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, according to health officials, taking the total confirmed toll from starvation to 23.

The US military has denied responsibility for an airdrop of humanitarian aid that Gaza officials say killed five people and injured several others when parachutes failed to open while Israeli forces again opened fire on aid seekers in northern Gaza.

President Joe Biden’s plan of a temporary port for maritime delivery of aid has been widely condemned by UN officials and other critics as an “election year ploy”.

Dr Rami Khouri, of the American University of Beirut, said the plan was “a ruse most of the world can see through”. It could give Israel even tighter control over what gets into the Gaza Strip in the future while completing “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine”.

"All children are precious"
“All children are precious” . . . a child and her mother declare their priorities at the protest. Image: David Robie/APR

Protesters stop US lecturer
Wellington Scoop reports that students and activist groups at Victoria University of Wellington yesterday protested against a lecture by the US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Dr Bonnie Jenkins.

Dr Jenkins is a senior official in charge of AUKUS implementation, a military alliance currently between Australia, UK and USA.

About 150 people, mostly students from groups including Justice for Palestine, Student Justice for Palestine-Pōneke (SJP), Stop AUKUS and Peace Action Wellington rallied outside the university venue in Pipitea to protest against further collaborations with the US.

A peaceful protest was undertaken inside the lecture hall at the same time.

An activist began by calling for “a moment of silence for all the Palestinians killed by the US-funded genocide in Gaza”.

He then condemned the weapons that the US was sending to Gaza, before eventually being ejected from the lecture theatre.

Shortly after, another activist stood up and said “Karetao o te Kāwana kakīwhero!” (“Puppets of this redneck government”) and quoted from the women’s Super Rugby Aupiki team Hurricanes Poua’s revamped haka: “Mai te awa ki te moana (From the river to the sea), free free Palestine!”

"You don't have to be a Muslim"
“You don’t have to be a Muslim to support Palestine – just be human” . . . says this protester on the eve of Ramadan. Image: David Robie/APR

Video on ‘imperialism’
Dr Jenkins was ushered away for the second time. Subsequently a couple of activists took to speaking and playing a video about how AUKUS represented US imperialism.

When organisers later came in to announce that Dr Jenkins would not be continuing with her lecture, chants of “Free, free Palestine!” filled the room.

“For five months, Aotearoa has been calling for our government to do more to stop the genocide in Gaza. And for years, we have been calling our governments to stand against Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” said Samira Zaiton, a Justice for Palestine organiser.

“We are now at the juncture of tightening relations with settler colonies who will only destroy more lives, more homes and more lands and waters. We want no part in this. We want no part in AUKUS.”

Dr Jenkins’ lecture was organised by Victoria University’s Centre for Strategic Studies, to address “security challenges in the 21st century”.

Valerie Morse, an organiser with Peace Action Wellington, said: “Experts on foreign policy and regional diplomacy have done careful research on the disastrous consequences of involving ourselves with AUKUS.

“Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa is not a nuclear testing ground and sacrifice zone for US wars.”

"When silence is betrayal"
“When silence is betrayal” . . . motorcycle look at today’s rally. Image: David Robie/APR
The Israeli military's "murder machine"
The Israeli military’s “murder machine” . . . “there’s no good reason for bombing children”. Image: David Robie/APR
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by