Thoughts : Politics (Protests) : Labor Day Rally in Sydney

Today i participated in Sydney’s May 1st Rally. I woke up at 5:30am and got to the city before 7am.

After meeting a friend, we went to the Market St. where all the participants were demonstrating outside the Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) building. They were basically blockading the whole building – not letting any workers of the ACM go into their offices.

The ACM profits off the oppression of people and they are responsible for the locking up and treatment of the Refugees in Australia – cruel treatment which has included much human rights violations.

A couple of hundred of us were thus locking our arms to close down the building – we did this for around 3-4 hours in total.

During that time, police tried to break us up, but in vain. And at one stage to the side of the building, the police gathered horses and used the horses to go at some demonstrators who were blockading the road to the carpark of the ACM. That was simply outrageous and got the crowd really worked up at the tactics the police used.

The demonstration was overall very peaceful until the police started to use the horses.

Later at noon, we all marched to Martin Place where there were talks and then a few thousand of us marched for a couple of hours around the city.

Overall the rally was very encouraging for me. It’s great to see others who are out there demonstrating and standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine. It’s great to see people waking up early in the morning just to show their abhorrance at the oppression being carried out by the ACM and the Australia government. Here are mostly Australians standing up for the refugees – people from the Middle East and Asia. They don’t mind foreigners coming in. They realize refugees have their rights. These people are certainly not racists.

At one stage, the whole group of us just laid down on the streets while some people drew chalk marks around the “dead” bodies – this took place outside the Israeli Consulate. This was all done in solidarity with the Palestinian people – to let them know we know their pain and that their country is full of dead people just laying all over the place.

What would motivate the hundreds and thousands of Australians to come together in Sydney? Certainly not money, not wealth. They have got better things to do than wasting their time like this – if indeed they see it as a waste of time.

Many may not understand why on earth people rally and demonstrate. Will all this do anything to change the government’s policies? Probably not so directly. And perhaps one could argue that there are other more effective ways to bring about change than protesting. Maybe true, but I believe protests help too – even if the only result is the moral encouragement due to the show of solidarity or the raising of the awareness of issues, although its usually more than that. History has shown this. For example, in the recent April 20 March of more than 100,000 in Washington D.C. described by Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey as “an outstanding event” because of its non-violent nature, Ramsey also said:

You think I hate protestors? If it wasn’t for protestors, I wouldn’t have a job today. You think a black man could ever be police chief in this town if the civil rights demonstrations didn’t happen here in the 60’s. I owe it all to protestors.

So I do believe protests have a role to play. But we have got to press on and not give up, though the fight may be long. Being passive because one is unsure what a protest can accomplish isn’t the way to go. Like Gandhi said:

You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results.

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