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Asia Pacific Report

The Aotearoa Caravan For a Free Palestine arrived in Auckland at the weekend and was greeted and supported by a large rally and march downtown before heading for Hamilton on the next stage.

“260 days of wives becoming widows.  260 days of mothers becoming children-less.  260 days of schools being bombed, of mosques being bombed, of churches being bombed,  260 days of hunger, of starvation, of deprivation of necessities,” said a speaker at the rally describing the human cost of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.

Green Party MP Steve Abel condemned the weak role of both politicians and news media in New Zealand over the war, saying a major problem was a “lack of political analysis and lack of media analysis”.

He called on the Fourth Estate to do better in informing the public about the “truth of the war – it’s not a war, it’s genocide”.

The Aotearoa Caravan for Free Palestine arrives at Whānau Maria in the central Auckland suburb of Ponsonby last night. Image: David Robie/APR

A solidarity organiser, Reverend Chris Sullivan, said the caravan of protesters were travelling from Cape Reinga to Parliament to urge the New Zealand government to take stronger action to end the war and unfolding genocide in Gaza.

The caravan participants also hope to help build a lasting peace based on a just solution to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Last night they were welcomed to Auckland by local solidarity acitivists with shared kai at the Whānau Maria in Ponsonby.

The caravan called on the government to:

  • Issue a clear public statement condemning Israel’s war crimes and affirming the ICJ ruling on the plausibility of genocide. Demand that Israel adhere to international law, including the Genocide Convention which recognises Palestinians’ right to protection from genocide; and demand an end to the illegal occupation and apartheid.
A message for the New Zealand government from members of the Cape-Reinga-to-Wellington caravan for Palestine at today’s Palestine solidarity rally. Image: David Robie/APR
  • Sanction Israel until it complies with international law and respects Palestinian rights. Following the precedent set by the Russia Sanctions Act 2022, New Zealand should act with similar resolve against Israel and any entity aiding its war crimes and genocide.
  • Recognise Palestinian Statehood: This is a vital step towards ensuring justice for Palestinians and is the foundation for full equitable participation in international relations. While New Zealand endorses its support for a two-state solution, it does not recognise Palestine as a state, only Israel. This lack of recognition leaves Palestinians who are living under illegal occupation, vulnerable to ongoing settler violence.
  • Grant visas to Palestinian New Zealanders’ families: Allow the families of Palestinian New Zealanders in Gaza to reunite in safety. Similar visas were granted to Ukrainians within a month of Russia’s invasion. Palestinians deserve the same consideration.
  • Increase UNRWA funding: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides critical humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and surrounding regions and the New Zealand government should meet its legal and humanitarian responsibilities by increasing aid funding to a level that reflects the severity of the humanitarian crisis. 
Green Party list MP Steve Abel speaking at today’s Palestine solidarity rally in Auckland supported by fellow MP Ricardo Menéndez March . . . critical of media failure to report the full “truth” of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Image: David Robie/APR

Reverend Sullivan drew attention to a statement on June 20 by the Irish Catholic Bishops that called for “courageous world leadership” to stop the war in the Holy Land:

“This war is an attack on all of humanity.  When people are deprived of basic human dignity and of necessary humanitarian aid, we are all made poorer,” the statement said.

“Efforts by the United Nations to address the humanitarian crisis are welcome.  But, the people of the Holy Land — and around the globe — need clear and courageous leadership from world leaders.

A Kanaky flag of independence at today’s Auckland solidarity rally for Palestine. Image: David Robie/APR

“Who is prepared to put the plight of people and the dignity of every human person as the overriding priority in bringing this outrage to an end?

“In the words of Pope Francis during his Angelus address on June 2, ‘it takes courage to make peace, far more courage than to wage war.’  Let us pray that leaders will show courage now at this vital moment.”

Catholics, and all people of good will, were invited to pray and to lobby members of Parliament for the New Zealand government to provide that “clear and courageous leadership” for peace and justice in the Holy Land.

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