Seafarers and ports union joins global surge of unions backing Gaza freedom and branch supports Palestinian justice protest at Australia’s biggest port and campaign for boycott
The Maritime Union of Australia, via its Sydney branch, has backed a protest at Port Botany – Australia’s largest sea port – against an Israeli shipping company involved in the delivery of weapons to Israel.
In a statement, Sydney branch secretary Paul Keating said that the union ‘joins the community’s call for an immediate ceasefire’ and ‘will always stand with the oppressed, the colonised and the exploited, including the Palestinian community’ – and accused the Australian government of ‘complicity’ in the slaughter and oppression of Palestinians. The full statement is below:
Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch joins worldwide call to stop the war on Gaza and Free Palestine
The Palestinian Justice Movement Sydney has announced that the community will be leading an action in Port Botany in protest at the Israeli owned ZIM shipping line which frequents Australia’s largest container port.
Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch Secretary Paul Keating said that “the MUA joins the community’s call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The MUA will always stand with the oppressed, the colonised and the exploited, including the Palestinian community and a broad coalition of peace and justice organisations calling for freedom and justice for the Palestinian people as a long-term solution to the cyclical violence, death and destruction for all people living in both Palestine and Israel.
This community-led action in Sydney is part of the escalating actions by communities and unions around the world. In the USA, Italy, Belgium and elsewhere, communities and unions are escalating actions including to target Israeli owned vessels in ports in an effort to put a halt to the carnage unfolding in Palestine.
“We will always defend the community’s right to stand up and fight for what is right. These community-led actions have for decades assisted movements fighting for justice including an end to Apartheid South Africa, against unjust wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and innumerable others, against nuclear war, for First Nations rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights amongst others and act as bulwarks against discrimination, war and environmental destruction.
“Minimising the right to protest atrocities, war crimes and breaches of international law undermine the capacity for working class people and civil institutions to speak truth to power, which plays into the hands of the those who profit from war.”
“Any politician in NSW that supports these protest laws and opposes the right to protest should be ashamed of themselves; would they have prevented the anti-apartheid movement from protesting against South Africa? The anti-protest laws being used to suppress these peaceful and legitimate protest actions are a disgrace and should be abolished.”
“MUA calls for an end to war crimes in Palestine
The latest reports show the situation is catastrophic. Israel’s retaliatory attack on Gaza has resulted in unimaginable carnage. There have been more than 5500 Palestinian children slaughtered since the siege upon the people of Gaza. This is a war crime.
“Israel alone made the decision to fire barrage after barrage of missiles into one of the most densely populated cities on earth, and Israel alone is responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 people who’ve been slaughtered during the sustained and indiscriminate aerial bombing of residential buildings and civic infrastructure.
Much of the rest of the world is turning a blind eye to these massacres in a heavily biased attempt to justify the murder of one child whilst condemning the killing of another. We unequivocally condemn all violence directed at innocent civilians whether they are Palestinian or Israeli.
“The MUA expresses deep alarm at the escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel and condemns the targeting of all civilians on both sides by Hamas and Israeli forces.
“Even in the face of the illegal occupation and a 16-year blockade of Gaza, there are obligations under international humanitarian law that must be upheld. We condemn the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and taking of civilian hostages by Hamas and other armed groups, which amount to war crimes under international law. All those responsible for war crimes should be dealt with under international law.
“We also condemn the attacks from Israeli forces, including the shelling of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure by the Israeli Defence Forces. Israel’s stated intention of imposing a complete siege on Gaza, which involves cutting electricity, food, medical and water supplies, amount to
collective punishment; a grave violation of international humanitarian law, which everyone who believes in justice should oppose without any equivocation. War crimes are war crimes no matter who is committing them.
“The MUA calls on Hamas to immediately release the 220 Israeli hostages and we call on Israel to release the thousands of Palestinian workers from Gaza who were working in Israel when the war started, that have been detained without charge in military facilities. We call on Israel to release the 5000 Palestinian political prisoners taken hostage by the Israeli state since October 7. We call on Israel to release the 20 Palestinian women detained in the West Bank: female writers and journalists that have been taken to be used as bargaining chips in a potential prisoner exchange with Hamas”.
Australia must end its complicity
“Australian politicians have lined up to parrot the phrase ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’ while willingly ignoring the historical context and root causes that have contributed to the current crisis – including the 16-year blockade of Gaza and its devastating social and political consequences.
“We support the call from Palestinian Human Rights Groups for the Australian Government to release to the public a full list of weapons exported to Israel since this war began. The time for secrecy surrounding Australian complicity in these military assaults on civilians is over.
The MUA Sydney Branch completely backs the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) call to tear down the apartheid wall, end the blockade of Gaza and support the BDS campaign.
We support the statement issued by Progressive International including:
“We join the global call to reject the false equivalence of colonizer and colonized, recognize that the violence of the oppressed is a response to the original condition of their oppression, and uphold the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to resist, enshrined in UN Resolution 2625, as ‘the legitimacy
of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid and foreign occupation by all available means’.
Nationally, the MUA has resolved to “Support campaigns for Palestinian self-determination and a
State that complies with UN Resolutions, particularly ending the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and ending the blockade of Gaza; tearing down the apartheid wall; call upon Australia to endorse and support all UN Resolutions relating to Palestine and Israel;”
Throughout its history, the MUA Sydney Branch has stood shoulder to shoulder with all oppressed peoples and for this we have often been wildly attacked by conservative media and politicians with all manner of hysterical ravings about our political stance, yet we have repeatedly been proven to be on the right side of history and we offer our support and solidarity with the incredibly brave and courageous Jewish people in Israel and around the world who have stated that this violence is “not in our name”.
Sydney Branch Secretary
Maritime Union of Australia
The MUA joins Belgian, Italian, Spanish and South African dockworkers in taking action against Israeli shipping lines’ shipment of weapons to Israel that will be used against Palestinians. The United Auto Workers union in the US, the Central TUC in India, the United Tech and Allied Workers in Northern Ireland and unions in Canada, Japan, Poland and Colombia have also called for a boycott.
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