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Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT declares solidarity with the Palestinian nation on Survival Day

Dechlan Brennan -

The Aboriginal Legal Service of NSW/ACT has said they stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people on the eve of 'Survival Day', arguing they were called to do so by conscience.

The statement issued late on 25 January comes after the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) released a similar statement last month which condemned the death of Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the current conflict, as well as the killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas on October 7.

"On the eve of our Survival Day, ALS NSW/ACT is called by conscience to speak up for the people of Palestine in their ongoing Nakba – their 75-year-old catastrophe," the statement said.

"We stand with the Palestinian people, as we do with all colonised peoples. In our shared mourning, we uphold the tradition of Aboriginal-Palestinian solidarity in Australia."

ALS NSW/ACT said everyone deserves to be safe and treated with fairness under the law, "no matter who you are or where you come from".

"We fight every day for our people to safely pursue their dreams: for our children to go to school and be raised in the communities that love them; for our people to be free from prison cells and back on the land of our ancestors, so they can learn the irreplaceable stories of our Elders about how to care for each other and for Country, and to be healthy and grow old so that they can pass all of this on to future generations – for the benefit of all humankind," ALS NSW/ACT said in their statement.

The escalation in the long-running conflict was sparked by Hamas's attack on Israel on October 7 in which at least 1,140 people were killed, including 695 civilians, and approximately 250 further taken hostage. Since October 7, the Israeli military response has killed more than 25,000 people in Gaza, according to the UN, health officials in Gaza, and other monitors.

The war has displaced nearly two million people and destroyed most of the buildings and infrastructure in Gaza.

ALS NSW/ACT said all people deserve equal rights under the law and the situation in Gaza meant "not all people are safe nor equal under the law."

They noted the current International Court of Justice case where South Africa filed a case against the Israeli government accusing it of committing genocide in Gaza.

"Israeli government leaders…are trying to convince the world that the safety of some must come at the expense of others," ALS NSW/ACT said.

"We mourn for the people of Palestine…We mourn for the Israelis who have been killed or are still missing from their families.

"We mourn the generations of Palestinian children growing up behind concrete walls, barbed wire, and checkpoints, who have never known freedom and were never given a chance."

Last month VALS called for an immediate ceasefire - citing the United Nations, Amnesty International and Oxfam amongst many human rights groups - and ALS NSW/ACT echoed this call on Thursday, calling on the Australian government to "step up their public efforts to secure an immediate and permanent ceasefire."

Some Aboriginal groups and prominent individuals have spoken up on the rights of Palestinians, arguing their struggle against occupation has parallels with those of Indigenous people in Australia.

Gumbaynggirr academic Gary Foley said in 2021: "All Aboriginal people in Australia, like all Palestinian people, are impacted by the ongoing occupation of our homelands."

In December, Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe called for an "immediate, permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation" having previously told a pro-Palestinian rally: "We know your pain."

National Indigenous Times has contacted Foreign Minister Penny Wong for comment.

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