Media release: Waverley Councillors risk demotion by speaking out about humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) is aware of an extraordinary general meeting occurring tonight, where members of both the Labor and Liberal party will put forward a motion to remove the Greens Waverley Deputy Mayor Ludovico Fabiano and Greens Councillor, Dominic Wy Kanak from various committees as a result of their public positions on what is occurring in Israel and Palestine.

These positions include the acknowledgement that there is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Palestine (and in particular Gaza) and that States must comply with their obligations pursuant to International Law.

 Comments from Lydia Shelly, President NSWCCL

“The views held by the Deputy Mayor and Wy Kanak reflect non controversial statements in support of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

“Their views reflect the recent comments made by Senator Penny Wong, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Their views reflect those held by many Australians, including those in the Waverley Local Government Area. Their views reflect the position of the United Nations, (which Australia is a founding member) who have warned that what is unfolding creates a risk of ethnic cleansing.”

“The views held by the Deputy Mayor and Wy Kanak do not warrant their removal. We must remain vigilant and protect our democracy at all levels – including in our communities and in our local councils.”

“It makes me uncomfortable that simply expressing views in support of human rights and international humanitarian law could lead to these Councillors losing positions to which they were elected.”

“If our society is serious about protecting and defending human rights, no one should be subjected to oppressive conduct for speaking in support of human rights, regardless of whether that is at home or abroad. That is all that the Deputy Mayor and Wy Kanak have done.”

“This motion signifies a very concerning slide towards silencing those whose views may not conform with those who wield political power. There is no place in Australia for this to be normalised. Attempts to curtail or use any political processes to shut down dissenting views is undemocratic and potentially an abuse of power.”

“Australia is a democratic country that is multicultural and multifaith. We are richer as a result of our differences in opinion and political perspectives. These differences should be encouraged. But so should respect for human rights. In a human rights respecting country, the Deputy Mayor and Wy Kanak should not be condemned.”

“We are watching the outcome of the meeting tonight closely. We call on the Councillors that have introduced this motion to withdraw it forthwith.”