Weapons out of our suburbs

17 April 2024
Mutu Yolbulan
Protest outside Broadmeadows Town Hall PHOTO: Ryan Laws

On Monday 15 April, actions took place around the world as part of a global day of action for Palestine.

In Hume City Council in Melbourne’s north, hundreds attended a protest organised by community group Hume for Palestine outside the Broadmeadows Town Hall to demand the council take a stand against weapons manufacturing in Hume.

Heat Treatment Australia, known as HTA, has its Melbourne operations in the suburb of Campbellfield, which is in Hume. It makes parts for F-35 fighter jets and is the only site in the world that is able to perform the necessary heat treatment for the parts. Israel has 39 F-35 fighter jets, which it has used to drop 2,000-pound bombs on Gaza during the current war.

Hume is a very diverse council. It represents an area that is home to tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, along with many other migrants. It is also home to a large number of refugees, many of who fled wars waged with jets such as the F-35.

In response to Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestine, the community has been deeply politicised. Groups such as Hume for Palestine have been active since the beginning of the war, and for most of this year, community activists have been picketing the HTA site regularly, often completely shutting down their operations.

In December last year, Hume for Palestine organised the “Rally for Humanity”, demanding that the council pass a motion in solidarity with Palestine, and calling for an immediate ceasefire. The impressive turnout by the community, combined with the hard work put in by the activists, forced the council to pass the motion and fly the Palestinian flag over the Broadmeadows Town Hall.

The atmosphere on 15 April, several more months into Israel’s horrific assault on Gaza, was different and more defiant. On a cold and dark Monday evening, community activists took to the stage to lead hundreds in lively chants. “There is only one solution. Intifada revolution!” was a favourite. The chair echoed the demands of the rally in his spirited speech: “We are no longer demanding a ceasefire. We are demanding liberation! And we want it now.” The rally erupted in agreement.

With mobile phone torches on, drums beating, and the crowd roaring “Free Palestine!”, the energy was at times electric. Students for Palestine organiser Anneke Demanuele reflected the mood when she told the crowd: “We will not stay silent when bombs are dropping on Palestine. We will not sit in class. We will fight!” The crowd agreed to return in two weeks to pressure the council to pass a motion to get weapons manufacturing out of Hume, and to continue protesting until Palestine is free.

But a part of the rally wasn’t done yet. A smaller group of protesters marched onto the overpass on Pascoe Vale Road and sought the solidarity of the motorists underneath as they waved banners reading “Weapons Out of Hume”.

The next Hume for Palestine protest will be on the evening of Monday 29 April outside the Broadmeadows Town Hall.

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