Pacific protesters were prominent in the 17th week of Aotearoa New Zealand solidarity demonstrations for Palestine and a ceasefire in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza in Auckland today.
Flags of Fiji, Tonga and West Papua were featured alongside the sea of Palestinian banners and at least one group declared themselves as “Tongans for Palestine – Long live the intifada”.
The rally in Auckland’s Te Komititanga — also known as Britomart Square, an urban rail transport hub — drew a large crowd of about 250 in the heart of New Zealand’s largest city shopping precinct.
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Thousands of people have been taking part in the weekly protest rallies and marches across New Zealand since the war on Gaza began after a deadly attack on Israel last October 7 following 75 years of repression and occupation since the Nakba — the “catastrophe” — in 1948.
South Africa has warned that Israel is ignoring the World Court’s “on notice” genocidal orders about its war on Gaza.
The death toll is now more than 27,000 — and more than 900 Palestinians have been killed since the ICJ (International Court of Justice) ruled that Israel must take steps to prevent civilian deaths.
Speakers in Auckland today drew parallels between the Zionist settler colonial project in Palestine and NZ’s colonial history, saying the Waitangi Treaty was now under threat from NZ’s most rightwing government in history.
‘Right side of history’
The protest came just two days before Waitangi Day — 6 February 1840 — the national holiday marking the signing of the foundational Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and 500 traditional Māori chiefs.
“There are many things we can do in Aotearoa to stand on the right side of history,” said one of the organisers, Josie Sims of Solidarity Action Network Aotearoa (SANA).
“We’re calling on the NZ Defence Force to refuse their orders to go to Yemen. We’re asking for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, and we’re asking that this government takes a clear position on an immediate ceasefire.”
Protesters directed their criticism at the nearby American McDonalds and Starbucks fast food and coffee outlets for allegedly supporting genocide. They are among many companies being boycotted worldwide.
“Maccas, Maccas, you can’t hide, you’re making meals for genocide,” chanted the protesters in reference to the global chain providing free meals to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) troops engaged in the assault on Gaza.