by GRACE JOHNSON
Greens Councillor Dylan Griffiths has responded to community calls in the Inner West for councillors to step up and urge the prime minister to support a ceasefire and show solidarity with Palestine.
In tomorrow night’s Inner West Council meeting, Councillor Griffiths will put forward a motion that requests the council to call on the Australian government for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
The motion also requests that council advertise a Gaza Emergency Appeal by Union Aid Abroad, Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (APHEDA), which looks to provide immediate assistance to the people of Gaza during this humanitarian crisis.
Councillor Griffiths told City Hub, “Many Inner West residents are concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, with many participating in the weekly mass demonstrations calling for a ceasefire and justice for Palestine.”
“Residents from across the LGA have contacted me asking me to bring a motion calling on Albo to support a ceasefire and show solidarity with Palestine,” he said. “Since lodging the motion I have received strong community support.”
History of anti-war tradition in Inner West
The Inner West has long been concerned about the situation in Palestine and has an extensive anti-war history. Councillor Griffiths mentioned that the previous Marrickville Council had at one time supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law, and made a sister city relationship with Bethlehem in the West Bank.
In March 2023, a council-supported event at Marrickville Town Hall was packed out with community members to mark 20 years since the invasion of Iraq and discuss opposition to AUKUS. The event focused on the spreading “China panic” and how this was potentially leading us into a war based on falsehoods, similar to the lies of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
In 2022, Inner West Council voted to support a motion that condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the Australian Local Government Association conference.
Further back, the Inner West hosted some of the earliest protests against the Vietnam War and local rallies against the invasion of Iraq.
In his notice of motion, Councillor Griffiths also noted that many in the Inner West community have personal links to war, as many Greeks and Italians migrated to the area following World War II. Similarly, many Vietnamese people migrated to the Marrickville area after the Vietnam War.
“Just as we should reflect on the human cost of previous wars, we should do all we can end current conflicts and prevent future ones,” he wrote.
War crimes in Gaza
As of Friday 17 November, the Euro-Med Monitor estimated that at least 15,271 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, including 3,561 women and 6,403 children.
Over 32,310 additional people have been injured by the Israeli attacks. Many are in critical conditions but are unable to receive even the bare minimum of medical care, due to the health system collapsing and hospitals being bombed in Gaza. It has been reported that doctors are having to perform limb amputations on children without anaesthesia.
More than 100 organisations including human rights organisations, trade unions, aid organisations, faith groups, and organisations representing Jewish and Palestinian people have signed a joint statement initiated by Amnesty International Australia that calls for a ceasefire and concern about war crimes being committed.
However, the Australian Parliament still chose not to condemn the ongoing war crimes committed by Israel.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA’s GAZA Emergency Appeal has a target of $150,000. Apheda, along with its partner organisation MA’AN Development Centre, will work with local organisations to provide access to water, food, medical supplies and shelter; psychosocial support for families and individuals; and dignity and hygiene kits for displaced people.
Inner West supports peace
Councillor Griffiths told City Hub said he hoped the Labor councillors, who have a majority on the Inner West Council, will support the motion.
“There is a growing sentiment in the Labor rank and file membership calling on the government to support peace in the region, with many Inner West Labor branches including Dulwich Hill, Balmain, Leichhardt, the Warren, Enmore, and Marrickville calling on Albanese to support a ceasefire,” he said.
“I hope Labor councillors listen to locals who support peace.”
Councillor Griffiths also referred to the neighbouring Canterbury-Bankstown Council, which also has a Labor majority.
“They’ve shown solidarity with Palestine by flying the flag and calling for a ceasefire,” said Councillor Griffiths. “I hope we can follow suit.”
Some councils in Sydney have actively suppressed support for Palestine, with Randwick City Council voting not to fly the Palestinian flag on the International Day of Solidarity, and Waverley Council removing Councillor Ludovico Fabiano as Deputy Mayor for wanting to acknowledge Palestinian deaths.
At the time, Councillor Griffiths expressed his concern over the deputy mayor getting sacked for speaking out about Palestine. In a post on Facebook, he wrote that he was calling on the council to “stand up for peace and truth about the conflict in Palestine.”