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Protest Erupts in Werribee: Local MP Accused of Supporting Genocide Amid Calls for Gaza Ceasefire

Palestine protest in Werribee

Community divided as Wyndham Palestine Action Group demands action from local politicians, slowing traffic and igniting debate on international involvement.

In Werribee’s centre yesterday 28th of March, a significant number of protestors from the Wyndham Palestine Action Group assembled in front of MP Joanne Ryan’s office around 10:30 a.m. to protest against Israel’s military actions in Palestine. The group criticized Joanne Ryan, accusing her of supporting genocide. This demonstration notably slowed traffic along Synott Street.

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 After spending some time in front of Ryan’s office, the protesters moved on to the office of State Labor Member Tim Pallas on Watton Street in Werribee, where they continued their demands for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza. Demonstrating their steadfast commitment, the group is dedicated to elevating Palestinian issues and championing the rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people, though their actions received mixed reactions from the local populace.

Wyndham for Palestine, the organization behind these efforts, is deeply invested in organizing events, rallies, educational programs, and outreach initiatives. Their goal is to spotlight Palestinian voices and build solidarity in their fight for autonomy and human rights. The organization’s founding members, Ms. Measham, Mehak Sheikh, Alisha Saiyed, and Jazeer Nijamudeen—all Wyndham residents—collaborate to boost awareness, foster dialogue, and mobilize support for peace and justice in the region.

The protest was notably vibrant, with enthusiastic chants and placards calling for peace, capturing attention not only for its fervor but also for the significant police presence that monitored the event. Wyndham for Palestine was established to bring attention to the prolonged struggle for liberation and remains dedicated to its mission of promoting awareness and action.

Protest at Tim Pallas office
Protesters marched from Joanne Ryan’s office to Tim Pallas’ office

As the demonstration made its way down Watton Street, a spokesperson for the group underscored their intention to continue these protests regularly, declaring, “We will be here every week.” This statement reflects the group’s determination to keep the issue at the forefront of community attention in Werribee.

Amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the Palestine Solidarity movement in Australia has risen as a formidable anti-war force, gaining significant prominence in recent times. This solidarity was further demonstrated when three councils, representing working-class communities in the suburbs, passed motions in support of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. These actions, widely supported by public rallies in Dandenong, Broadmeadows, and Werribee, underscore the collective disapproval of the violence in Gaza. The councils advocating for these motions are primarily composed of Labor Party members, supplemented by right-wing or apolitical independents, though the efforts may have been strengthened by the involvement of elected socialists.

A significant petition, bearing 2,436 signatures gathered between December 11th and 13th, 2023, was debated and voted on in a council meeting on December 19th, 2023. Despite the strong support for the motions, some community members voiced concerns about the appropriateness of local councils engaging in international affairs, worried about the potential for causing divisions within the community. There’s a debate on whether local councils should involve themselves in complex international conflicts like Gaza’s, with the risk of alienating community members holding diverse views.

The activism of the movement extends beyond sporadic protests, encompassing weekly marches, school walkouts, and disruptive actions at key sites, demonstrating the community’s deep engagement with the cause. To date, seven Victorian councils, representing more than a fifth of Melbourne’s population, have passed resolutions demanding an end to the ongoing conflict, with community campaigns in numerous other councils actively pursuing similar objectives.

The protest outside Tim Pallas’s office in Werribee not only signifies a local outcry but also contributes to the broader Australian demand for an end to violence in Gaza. The Wyndham Palestine Action Group, resolved to continue their demonstrations, amplified their peace plea throughout the streets, aiming to intensify the call for a ceasefire on a national scale.

Following the demonstration, the Wyndham Palestine Action Group reaffirmed their dedication to persist in their advocacy, pushing for national recognition of their ceasefire plea as they headed back towards local MP Joanne Ryan’s office.

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