‘Rage and a hunger for justice’: Assange’s father speaks at pro-Palestine rally

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Julian Assange’s father addressed thousands of Palestine supporters on Sunday as they rallied in Melbourne’s CBD for the sixth weekend in a row to call for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

As with the previous rallies, the protesters, many of whom wore traditional Palestinian scarves and waved the Palestinian flag, gathered outside the State Library of Victoria around noon before marching towards Treasury Gardens, near Parliament.

Palestine supporters rally in Melbourne’s CBD for the sixth consecutive weekend in a row on Sunday.Credit: Chris Hopkins/The Age

Police estimated about 15,000 people attended the rally.

John Shipton, Assange’s father, addressed the crowd at the State Library, listing the number of civilian deaths in wars around the world over the decades, asking at the end of each figure: “Are you good with that?” “No!” replied the crowds.

He said that since Israel began bombing Gaza last month, rage and a hunger for justice had “swept around the globe and embraced every human being that is sentient enough to have sympathy for another”.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi, who also spoke at the event, described Israel’s attack on Gaza as a show of “depravity and inhumanity” and accused the Australian government of being on the wrong side of history.

“Even the prime minister [Anthony Albanese] was forced to admit that he has a track record of standing up for justice for Palestinian people,” she said to a cheering crowd.

Julian Assange’s father John Shipton also spoke at the Melbourne protest.Credit: AP

“So here’s my message to the prime minister: prime minister, take a trip back into your past and when you come to that junction where you dropped off your guts, pick them up, dust them off, come back here and call for a ceasefire.”

Farrah Salhah, a Palestinian woman from Point Cook who was among those marching on Sunday, said her mother and mother-in-law’s cousins had been killed in Palestine in recent weeks.

“My grandparents were expelled from Palestine during the Nakba and we were never able to go back home,” she said, referring to the mass displacement of Palestinians by Israel in 1948. Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic.

“We are trying our best to educate people that this is not a religious conflict, a religious war. It’s between coloniser and indigenous people.”

The rally drew tens of thousands of protesters, who continued to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.Credit: Chris Hopkins/The Age

Free Palestine Melbourne’s Muayad Ali said Australians were galvanised by their disgust at the federal government’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“This is the sixth rally we’ve called in as many weeks,” Ali said. “We’ve had people come who have never before been to a rally, and the following week they return with their relatives and friends.”

Israel launched an intense military campaign against Hamas in Gaza seven weeks ago, after the terrorist group stormed the border and attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people.

Nearly 12,000 Palestinians have since been killed by Israel’s missile strikes. Another 2700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble.

Meanwhile, scores of kites flew in Hawthorn East to raise awareness of the Israelis taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 attack.

Kites for Freedom organiser Ayal Marek said between 200 and 300 people attended the interfaith event, which featured kite-making, face-painting and several speakers.

Marek said Kites for Freedom has run in Israel for 15 years and encourages locals to fly kites as a message of peace to those over the border in Gaza. It was scheduled to run in southern Israel on the day Hamas attacked the region, killing the festival’s founder and his family.

“We did it today because tomorrow is the international day of the child [World Children’s Day] to mainly focus on the hostages and children among them,” Marek said.

“The day was great. The only person who didn’t do their job was the person in charge of the wind.”

With Roy Ward

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