Last Saturday on the 12th of January, protesters gathered at Garema Place to stand in solidarity with Palestinians on the Global Day of Action for Gaza. The Canberra protests were part of a larger international movement, marking the 100 days of the Israeli declared war on Gaza and the West Bank and the 22nd consecutive weekly protest and rally held in Garema Place.
The protest was attended by a number of ANU students, with the University’s Socialist Alternative faction making its usual appearance and ANUSA members volunteering as legal observers.
An ANU student who attended told Woroni, “The protests have been changing the discourse on the genocide”. They continue, “attending…means we can continue to not stop talking about what is happening and spark even further tangible conversations and actions”.
For other students, “protesting is the bare minimum”. They explain, “Palestinian lives matter…to exist beyond infographics, and Indigenous solidarity is everything”.
The Day of Action included discussion of the recent International Court of Justice case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinian people in it’s most recent siege of the occupied Palestinian territories.
While most of the speakers at the rallies were Palestinian and Arab speakers, speakers from the Greens Party have both attended and spoke at the rallies.
With the weekly rallies, there have been growing grass-roots Pro-Palestinian movements within the ANU community, particularly from students without previous activism experience. Perhaps one of the most common sights at the weekly rallies are the Free Palestine Printing (FPP) posters. Starting in Melbourne, the campaign has made international appearances, by distributing free posters and stickers in support of the Palestinian cause.
Popular posters include slogans such as: “Do you condemn the murder of children? Or is it complicated when it’s Middle Eastern children?”, Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Our Freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians” and posters featuring Palestinian Journalists.
Kaab Qureshi, an ANU student and a prominent organiser, says the campaign aims to “educate ordinary people (on) the unfolding genocide in Gaza”.
“By distributing visual pieces that depict facts and information”, he says, “we can make systematic change”.
In Canberra, the campaign is made of volunteers including ANU students. One such student, Victoria Liang, says FPP is “a truth-telling campaign”.
Liang, who is studying Bachelor of Visual Arts, tells Woroni this is her first time participating in a grass-roots organisation. She explains her participation in FPP came from “feeling powerless and distressed engaging with the news and information coming out of Gaza”.
“I jumped at the opportunity to do something to contribute to the Palestinian cause”, she told Woroni.
For these ANU students, the grass-roots campaign has been about “raising awareness”, as ANU alumni Zayaan Jadwat explains, “ The primary objective is to shed light on the ongoing apartheid and genocide in Palestine”.
She continues, “By distributing our merchandise, FPP seeks to establish a robust presence, making a compelling impact both verbally and visually”.
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and emerging. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.