Q&A: Australian senator Mehreen Faruqi says she won’t ‘shut down’ in Gaza | Israel-Palestine conflict news

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Australian senator Mehreen Faruqi has led protests in the national parliament calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

As deputy leader of Green Australia, Faruqi says she takes “the people’s grievances to parliament”.

With 11 senators, the Greens are part of Australia’s upper house but Australia’s centre-left Labor government has resisted the party’s calls for a truce, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. .

The Albanian government has not changed its position much since it abstained from a vote at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a humanitarian truce last month.

Al Jazeera spoke to Faruqi about support for a ceasefire in Australia and what opportunities she sees for change in the Australian government’s position.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Al Jazeera: The Greens have called for a stop vote in the Australian Senate. What is currently preventing a vote from happening?

Mehreen Faruqi: The Greens pushed for a vote in the Senate calling for a ceasefire but both the Labor government and the Liberal-National opposition came together to oppose it. This shows how clearly they ignore the atrocities committed in Gaza.

The morally corrupt major parties would like us to remain silent so that their insanity is not exposed. But the Greens in Australia and I will not shut up and sit quietly in parliament while the government comes up with pathetic enthusiasm on real questions about justice for Palestine.

Al Jazeera: You and your fellow Greens have held protests in the Australian Senate, including boycotting question time – what prompted you to take these actions?

Mehreen Faruqi: I proudly led the Greens protest in the Senate calling for a recess and boycott question time. I know we speak for so many in the community.

I will unapologetically continue to use my parliamentary platform to call for a ceasefire, an end to the Palestinian occupation and the Palestinian right to self-determination.

For me, there is no point in being here in Parliament if we remain silent in times of such great injustice. We must be higher and higher.

Al Jazeera: Do you think the Australian government’s position on humanitarian relief reflects the Australian people?

Mehreen Faruqi: Not joining the majority of countries in calling for a truce was a shameful and embarrassing position for the Australian government to take.

Calling for humanitarian peace is the lowest and they can’t even do that.

Tens of thousands of people have marched across Australia every weekend since the attacks on Gaza began, calling for peace in the region and asking the Australian government to call on Israel for a ceasefire.

police motorcycles can be seen in front of large crowds waving Palestinian flags on a sunny day
‘Free Palestine’ protest on 29 October 2023 in Sydney, Australia [Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images]

The decision to ignore thousands upon thousands of Palestinian voices and allies shows the Australian government’s complete disregard for the very people who put their faith in them when they elected them.

People will not forget this message. History will not look back kindly on the actions of the government.

Al Jazeera: How involved is the Australian government in Israel’s war in Gaza? Is it possible that members of the Australian government could be held responsible for this involvement?

Mehreen Faruqi: Australia has one of the most secretive arms trades in the world, but we do know that hundreds of arms shipments have been sent over to Israel over the past few years.

As far as I am concerned, our country has a hand in the bloody murder of over 10,000 people and counting.

Israel is committing war crimes and subjecting Palestinians to general punishment. The Australian government should immediately stop arms exports to Israel.

But more importantly, Australia is one of a small group of Western countries that continue to protect Israel from any accountability, not only over this attack on Gaza but throughout 75 years of Palestinian occupation.

It’s no wonder Israel behaves so fiercely when they know that the governments of countries like Australia will support them, no matter how brutal and oppressive they are.

Al Jazeera: The Greens have 11 seats in the Australian Senate. What can the Greens do from this position regarding Australia’s involvement in this conflict?

Mehreen Faruqi: The Greens bring the voices of the majority of people who want justice and peace in Australia to parliament. This is powerful in many ways. It shows the community that there is someone in the highest office in the country who listens to them and is able to stand with principle. They know someone is with them. He is also pressuring the government to call for a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Like millions of people around the world, I am frustrated by the lack of accountability for Israel. It is heartless and shameless not to call for a ceasefire while thousands of children are being murdered in Gaza. Our government may be complicated but people are on the side of justice for Palestine.

I am marching shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of people in the streets across Australia and speaking at these protests.

It was time to bring the grievances of these people into parliament so that the government would have to respond to their calls one way or another.

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