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Khawaja was photographed with the custom Nike shoes at training this week. On his right shoe, he had written “freedom is a human right”. On his left, “all lives are equal”. Khawaja told reporters in Perth he intended to wear the shoes for the match which starts on Thursday at Optus Stadium.

The International Cricket Council bars the display of messages that relate to political causes during international matches. However, federal sport minister Anika Wells suggested Khawaja’s gesture does not compromise the Australian cricket team’s obligations to the ICC.

“As federal sport minister I have always advocated for athletes having the right to a voice and to speak up on matters important to them,” Wells said.

“Usman Khawaja is a great athlete and a great Australian. He should have every right to speak up on matters that are important to him. He has done so in a peaceful and respectful way. He has done so as an individual and expressed an individual opinion.”

Khawaja shared a video on Instagram from Unicef from Gaza four days ago, and commented: “Do people not care about innocent humans being killed? Or is it the colour of their skin that makes them less important? Or the religion they practice? These things should be irrelevant if you truly believe that ‘we are all equal.’”

The ICC has previously imposed sanctions for the display of what it deems political messages. England’s Moeen Ali was banned from wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” wristbands in a Test against India in Southampton in 2014. England had initially approved the wristbands, but that was overruled by the ICC’s match referee, Australian David Boon.

At the time, the ICC issued the statement: “The ICC equipment and clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match. Moeen Ali was told by the match referee that while he is free to express his views on such causes away from the cricket field, he is not permitted to wear the wristbands on the field of play and warned not to wear the bands again during an international match.”

The ICC’s latest rules and regulations state: “In determining whether a message is for a ‘political, religious or racial cause’, the starting point is that the ICC and its members acknowledge and agree that cricket should be used as a tool to bring people and communities around the world together and not as a platform to draw attention to potentially divisive political issues, rhetoric or agendas.”

The ICC, Cricket Australia, Nike and the Australian Cricketers’ Association have been approached for comment.

In a shift in position, Australia joined 152 other nations in voting in favour of the resolution on Wednesday morning. Canada and New Zealand also voted in favour.

Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja will wear shoes with a humanitarian message for the first Test against Pakistan at Optus Stadium on Thursday. Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Support for the humanitarian ceasefire was overwhelming, with only ten nations, including the United States, voting against and 23 countries, including the United Kingdom, abstaining.

The new UN vote follows Australia’s controversial decision in late October to abstain from casting an affirmative vote on a similar motion. At the time, the Albanese government argued the language was was “incomplete” because it did not mention Hamas as the perpetrator of the 7 October attack.

As well as championing a humanitarian ceasefire, the new motion expresses grave concern over “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population.” It says Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations “must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

Australia’s ambassador to the UN, James Larsen, said human suffering in Gaza was “widespread and unacceptable”. He characterised the vote as an evolution of Australia’s position.

“Australia welcomed the humanitarian pause agreed by the parties in November and brokered by the United States, Egypt and Qatar,” Larsen said.

This resolution, calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, is the world urging these pauses be resumed, so urgent humanitarian aid can flow. Australia is part of that call and we support this resolution.”

Larsen said Australia saw such pauses as “critical steps on a path to a sustainable and permanent ceasefire”.

He said Australia had supported the amendments proposed by the US and Austria “because we believe this resolution should have gone further, by unequivocally condemning Hamas as the perpetrators of the 7 October attack on innocent Israeli civilians”.

The Australian foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said the joint statement with Canada and New Zealand had been under discussion for “some time”.

Addressing reporters in Adelaide, Wong said was “important that very close allies and like-minded countries speak together in support of the position that we have articulated”.

Wong said the UN general assembly vote was “a collective statement about the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” with broad support from like-minded partners and was “not a unilateral decision by Australia”.

“Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and to harming the Jewish people. Hamas has no place in the future governance of Gaza,” she said.

Source: Jack Snape

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