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Rallies Throughout Palestine in Solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian Popular Uprisings
Thursday, plain-cloth security personnel disrupted a peaceful gathering in Ramallah confiscating video...
(BETHLEHEM) - I blog regularly about what is happening here especially what is not seen in mainstream media. I want to take this message to expose some things I have alluded to only marginally before and then issue a call to Palestinains (including the "Palestinian authority" or PA). First a description of what happened that prompts this emotional email.
No one expected what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Jordan. Demonstrations last week in support of the Egyptian people were suppressed by the Hamas-ruled authority in Gaza and by the Fatah-ruled authority in the West Bank (both in violation of the Palestinian laws that guarantee freedom of assembly and expression).
Thursday, plain-cloth security personnel disrupted a peaceful gathering in Ramallah, arrested participants and took their video footage.
Despite illegal orders from the PA, Friday's demonstrations in Bil'in, Wad Rahhal, and elsewhere emphasized Egyptian-Palestinian unity in the face of oppression, and Saturday demos were held in Gaza, Jerusalem, Beit Ommar, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. Over 1000 people gathered in Ramallah. Dozens of plain-cloth PA personnel tried to disrupt the demonstration and arrested people. Here are video clips:
Similar attempts were made in Bethlehem. I and at least four other activists in Bethlehem received word from relatives, friends, and even directly from security agents saying "watch out". I recorded details on all of these things for potential future legal action. At the actual event in the Manger Square (50 participants), plain-cloth security agents tried many tactics to discredit, disrupt, and intimidate. Some of them represented themselves as demonstrators and others just blatantly tried to interrupt speeches. One person by the name of "Saddam" (who refused to give me his last name) tried to disrupt every speaker.
When Yosef Sharqawi decided to speak, Saddam made a point of appearing to whisper something in his ear and then said Yousef used to work for the PA. Everyone already knew this but, while I disagree with Yousef on some political issues, he is entitled to speak his opinion. This reminded everyone of Israeli intelligence officers who use first names of activists in demonstrations and wink at them to tell everyone: hey he is with us, don't trust him.
In another occasion he and another person stated loudly that those who are demonstrating "should ask to be paid like some others are paid at the demonstration"! The PA agencies do know very well that none of the key organizers is paid by anyone and many actually spend from their own pockets. Later, the uniformed police prevented us from marching. Video of all of this is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Now I want to take a few lines to fellow Palestinians: I just finished a book that chronicles 130 years of inspiring acts of resistance, self-sacrifice and decency. But yes, it also chronicles stories of weakness, spineless, and even collaborative episodes in our history. >From this I learned that this period is most like 1928. After the end of the 1921 uprising, a class of Palestinian elites rose, some of them co-opted from the resistance movement. With political leadership from prominent families, they were empowered under British occupation but with "autonomy" and even their own police forces.
Their demands in 1928 were no longer the end of British occupation or rescinding the Balfour Declaration, but focused on more 'moderate' requests, including changing British rules to employ Palestinians and objections to the British granting concessions to Zionist companies. The British, these Palestinian officials, and most of the Palestinian public thought things could not change. Who remembers the names of those who tried to work with Britain of the 1920s day.
Many of them were abandoned by their benefactors. Their descendants are individuals who shy away from any mention of their grandparents or what they did. But who among us have not heard of Musa Kadhem Al-Husseini, the dean of resistance in the 1920s who, at age 83 was beaten on 27 October 1933. We do not know if the policeman that beat him was British or Arab working for the British. Musa died shortly after likely due to complications of the injuries on an old man. He was one of tens of thousands of martyrs for the Palestinian struggle for freedom. His detractors and those who tried to stab him in the back died in shame and are long forgotten.
I urge you, no matter what your political affiliation, to think of what kind of memory you will leave for your children and grandchildren? But most important: do not underestimate the people.
During the years of betrayal 1922-1928, who would have predicted the uprising of 1929 (or for that matter 1936)? Who would have predicted in 1986 the intifada of October 1987? Who three weeks ago would have predicted the events in Egypt? I beg you to take these lessons of history. Please listen to the people and not through paid uneducated individuals that you send to spy on your own people.
The Palestinian people demand an investigation and punishment of those responsible:
- for use of "intelligence" agents to intimidate activists and their families (mine included) to impose their dubious agendas of silencing all opposition
- for use of plain-cloth security agents to disrupt peaceful gatherings (as happened today in Ramallah and Bethlehem)
- for use of heavily clad security forces to prevent peaceful demonstrators from marching to places where Israeli forces are illegally stationed on our land (e.g. in Bethlehem during the assaults on Gaza)
- for all other instances where these forces and officials violated Palestinian laws and violated basic human rights.
-for cases of corruption that are well exposed now but not punished. When officials (supposedly on small government salaries) build multimillion-dollar villas, there out to be accountability for the public money.
We implore those elites in power for your own sake and for the sake of the future of Palestine not to underestimate your people and instead to listen to them even when they seem to fear you (for that too can pass as happened in Egypt). People are saying to the decent people of Fatah, please take matters into your own hands by going back to your roots as a people liberation movement and not an "authority" over a bantustan. They are saying to the decent people in other (mostly left) factions: please break your silence and take matters into your own hands to applying the Cairo agreements on reviving the PLO. They are saying to Hamas and Fatah to get out of the Oslo trap (being an "authority" without authority under occupation). They also say to all of us that Palestine will be free and that it will always be multi-ethnic and multi-religious and it is inevitable that it will be one country (not bantustans or a state and two statelets). The people give us hope. The child today that asked me if he could carry the Palestinian flag brought tears of joy to my eyes and this is worth more to me than all of the political games and attacks we receive. He knows and many of us know the meaning of the old proverb in Arabic that "the sun cannot be covered with a ghorbal (sieve)." Unfortunately, Israel, the US, and some individuals in the Arab world (including the PA) are trying to cover-up the sun and prevent the inevitable.
Press release: Rallies Throughout Occupied Palestine in Solidarity with Egypt and Tunisia
Ramallah, Feb. 5th, 2011
More than two thousand people rallied today in the center of Ramallah at Al-Manara square in solidarity with the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, calling for freedom, social justice, democracy and human rights. Parallel rallies took place in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Previous rallies have been held by Palestinian activists in Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Gaza. The demonstrations were called for by independent youth movements, the Palestinian NGO Network, trade unions and professional syndicates.
Al-Manara Square overflowed with a diverse crowd of students, workers, professionals, human rights activists and political parties' representatives, with a prominent presence of women. Protesters carried Egyptian, Tunisian, and Palestinian flags and repeated the Egyptian chants of "The people want to dismantle the regime" and "Down with Mubarak." They also demanded an end to the occupation, internal division, normalization, oppressive regimes, and to US and Western complicity in maintaining Israel's colonial system and protecting despotic Arab regimes.
One of the protesters, Omar Assaf, said that "We, the Palestinian people, send a message to the Arab world to stand together for a better life against the corruption of the authorities... we support the Egyptian people but the Egyptians must elect their leaders, Tunisian people must elect their leaders, and we Palestinian must elect our leaders." This was Ramallah's fourth and largest rally in solidarity with the peoples of Egypt and Tunisia.
The previous three, organized by youth groups were violently suppressed by Palestinian Authority agents, funded primarily by the US and the EU. The PA also sent in plain-clothes officers into today's crowd who chanted pro-Abbas slogans and assaulted several of the protesters.
The organizers stressed that they will continue mobilizing events in support of human rights, against the Israeli occupation and status quo, and in solidarity with struggles around the world, especially in Arab countries, for freedom, democracy and social justice.
The next upcoming event is a call by the Popular Committees in Palestine to demonstrate in front of Israeli embassies worldwide on Friday, February 11th, against injustice and dictatorship and in solidarity with persecuted nations under the slogan "People can bring change and make the impossible, possible." Media inquiries can be directed to: Hanadi Omar, 972 59 543 6027 or Mazin Qumsiyeh, 972 59 893 9532
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD - Popular Committee to Defend Ush Ghrab (PCDUG) "A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home. Mazin has been an Associate Professor of Genetics; Director, Cytogenetics Laboratory at Yale University School of Medicine since 1999. He previously held a similar position at Duke University. Professor Qumsiyeh has authored over 110 scientific papers in areas of mammalogy, biology, and medicine including mammalian biology and evolution, clinical genetics, and cancer research. He has published over 100 letters to the editor and 30 op-ed pieces in International, national, regional and local papers on issues ranging from politics to environmental issues. His appearances in national media included the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, CNBC, C-Span, and ABC, among others. He is the founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-President of the Middle East Genetics Association, and Prof. Qumsiyeh won the Jallow activism award from the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. Those are just a small list, visit Mazin Qumsiyeh's amazing and informative Website to learn more: qumsiyeh.org.
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