Pro-Palestine supporters storm Victoria Labor conference

MELBOURNE, 18 May 2024: About 100 pro-Palestine supporters today at 10.30 am stormed the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP’s) Victoria State conference venue at the Monniee Ponds Racecourse and held a noisy rally in the conferences’ foyer area.

The protesters belonging to the ‘Unionists for Palestine’ carrying Palestinian flags, banners and placards marched in the foyer and held a sit in addressed by their leaders. The protest action against the ALP’s betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Earlier, they barged into the conference area through the moving stairs escalator breaching security, as the conference was awaiting Prime Minister Antony Albanese to address the delegates.

The security staff  bolted the conference doors at the Celebrity Room as some protesters banged them. The Prime Minister had not yet arrived and some resolution was being discussed by the delegates. A virtually shocked Labor delegates in the foyer looked on peacefully as the protesters held a peaceful meeting and there was no violence or incident. Later, the protesters left on their own and there were no arrests. Anyway, there were no cops around. Cops could be seen after a while when there were no protesters.

Interestingly, the foyer where the protest  was held also had a stall of the Labor Friends of Palestine, though they were not involved in the protests. The protesters in their hundreds outside were addressed by a Greens and Independent MP.

Minister Bill Shorten who was present in the conference room at the time of the protest, condemned the protest as even if it was well intentioned. As the protesters were not able to enter the actual conference hall, the delegates remained unaffected and the later the Prime Minister arrived about one and half hours later and gave a rousing speech.

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Reports from the conference indicated, there were multiple motions put forward by rank and file ALP members that were pro-Palestine, anti-settlements, critical of Australia’s  relationship with Israel.

Photos- SAT/NN.

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, the Trade Unionists for Palestine demanded the Labor Party condemn and sanctions apartheid Israel, tears up its $917 million contracts with Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems, and does everything in its power to break the siege and end the occupation of Palestine.

Declan Furber Gillick, MEAA and Trade Unionists for Palestine said, “We have made it clear that we as trade unionists won’t sit idly by while our Labor Government facilities Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people.

Monica Campo, ASU and Trade Unionists for Palestine said, “The Labor Government has this week green-lit the forced closure of university encampments, condemned pro-Palestine slogans and the wearing of the keffiyah in Parliament. It’s more important than ever that we exercise our democratic rights to protest and free speech in standing up against this brutal genocide.”

Some conference delegates criticised the protesters for breaching security and holding the protest.

 

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By Neeraj Nanda

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