A Racial Discrimination complaint will proceed against the Australian Government for its advocacy on behalf of Israel.

Sydney law firm, Birchgrove Legal, is acting for Mr. Nasser Mashni in a section 9 Racial Discrimination Act complaint against the Australian Government.

The Complaint argues that the Australian Government has a legal obligation to advance equality before the law, including international law and international tribunals of justice, and that derogations from that obligation discriminate against Australian Palestinians.

The Complaint refers to the Government’s official comments during Israel’s bombing of Gaza in May 2021 and the Australian Government’s advocacy on behalf of Israel to avoid investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Such actions by the Australian Government are hostile to Australian Palestinian human rights.

It makes Palestinian peoples’ right of return a more distant dream and causes enormous distress to Australian Palestinians. 

The ongoing Israeli occupation and military violence cause trauma, loss, and denial of homelands. It is designed to prevent Palestinian peoples worldwide from returning.

Self-determination, connection to homelands, and health are intrinsically linked, as research into the occupation and denial of Indigenous lands worldwide demonstrates.

The right of return is critical to Palestinian peoples’ ability to pursue social and cultural development. Safe, secure, and free access to their homelands is also integral to their right to determine their political status and nationality.

Further, a failure to acknowledge that Israel is an Occupying Power that occupies Palestinian land – and its breaches of international law –manifestly reframes, distorts, and misleads public discourse in Australia.

This distortion of public discourse then subjects Australians of Palestinian heritage to continual discrimination, recrimination, suspicion, intimidation, and the residual fear of victimisation when they identify as Palestinian. It leads people to believe that Palestinians are aggressors rather than victims.

It discourages Palestinians from speaking out about the situation in Israel and Palestine or even using the term “Palestine.” It also affects media diversity and freedom of press in Australia.

The Complaint has been accepted to proceed against the Government by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

‘Legally, it is very significant. It is the first of its kind,’ said Birchgrove Principal Solicitor, Moustafa Kheir.

‘There should be legal consequences at home for Governments that support foreign nation-states in carrying out land theft and violations directly against racial or ethnic groups where it causes discriminatory harm at home.’

‘This situation is very distinct from other international issues in that the Australian Government has taken a very active role in supporting Israel to avoid international pressure.’

Mr. Nasser Mashni said, ‘Australia is home to so many cultures. A Prime Minister and Government that tells the truth according to international law protects Australians. Telling the truth creates safe spaces for conversations to be had without vilification.

‘What we have now is a Prime Minister and a Government that stands among nations to hide the truth, to protect another nation-state, effectively denying my rights and other Australians with Palestinian ancestry.’

What outcomes does the complaint call for?

In future representations to the United Nations and national press statements, the complaint calls for the Government to

(1) acknowledge that Israel is an Occupying Power that occupies Palestinian land and outlines the special obligations attached to being an Occupying Power under international law;

(2) to identify when Israel has breached international law and the actions that constitute the breach;

(3) indicate that it supports the ICC investigation of allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by all parties, including Israeli authorities and Hamas; and

(4) to acknowledge that the human rights of Palestinian Australians are diminished by the ongoing denial of safe, free and secure access and return to their ancestral homelands.

For media inquiries, contact Birchgrove Legal on (02) 9018 1067.

For interviews: Mr. Nasser Mashni is based in Melbourne. Birchgrove Legal is in the Sydney CBD.