On the evening of Tuesday 30th March 2010 the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in Dublin commemorated Palestinian Land Day by holding a solidarity picket outside the GPO on O”Connell Street from 5 – 7pm, during which hundreds of leaflets were distributed. The picket was attended by over thirty members and supporters of the IPSC, in a colourful and lively display of solidarity which brought a certain vivaciousness to O”Connell Street on such a dismal evening.
The rally was addressed by a panel of entirely female speakers; internationally renowned human rights activists Caoimhe Butterly who has spent many years working in Palestine, Ewa Jasiewicz who worked with the ambulance services in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead” and, IPSC activist and spokesperson Freda Hughes. This the commemoration focused on the role of Veolia, the operators of the Dublin LUAS, in entrenching Israeli Apartheid through their involvement in the running of the Jerusalem Light Rail system and other illegal projects in occupied Palestine. Leaflets to this effect were handed out to passersby.
Land Day, March 30th, is an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians for the events of that date in 1976 when, in response to the Israeli government”s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for “security and settlement purposes”, a general strike and marches were organised in Palestinian towns in Israel from the Galilee to the Negev. In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about one hundred were wounded, and hundreds of others arrested. It is commemorated every year by Palestinians and their supporters around the world.
IPSC spokesperson Freda Hughes spoke about this historical context of the Land Day commemoration, but was quick to add, “This is no mere historical footnote, rather the same policies that operated 34 years ago continue unabated today. In Palestine land theft and illegal settlement building continues today, as does the heroic resistance to this Israeli colonial endeavour. Activists, both international and Palestinian, face routine violence, intimidation, arrests and deportation at the hands of the Israeli state. Today in Dublin we would especially like to remember those Palestinians who died resisting the theft of their land.”
Ms. Hughes continued by saying; “We should not simply mourn these deaths and the thousands of others victims of Israeli state oppression – there is positive action that we as Irish people can take by getting involved with the Palestinian solidarity movement and taking part in the global campaign of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in order to shame them into complying with international law and ending their Apartheid regime.”
Elaborating on the practical actions Irish people can take to oppose Israeli Apartheid, Ms Hughes highlighted the IPSC”s current campaign against Veolia, saying, “On 12th April there is a motion before Dublin City Council asking the City Manager not to sign or renew any further contracts with Veolia until such time as they cease their involvement in Jerusalem”s Apartheid Rail system and in the illegal Tovlan landfill in the West Bank. We are asking Dubin residents to contact their local City Councillors and ask them to vote in favour of the motion (full details, a model letter and contact information can be found at http://www.ipsc.ie/veolia ).”
Next to speak was Caoimhe Butterly, who announced the purchase of a new Irish cargo ship for the Free Gaza siege-breaking movement. Ms. Butterly said, “We call upon the Irish people and government to support the safe passage of our mission. The siege is a form of collective, sustained and devastating punishment. Supporting the flotilla is a way for the people of Ireland to show direct solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza as they attempt to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. In addition, we are renaming the ship the MV Rachel Corrie, in remembrance of the brave young woman who was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer while resisting house demolitions in Gaza in 2003″. (more info on Free Gaza can be found here: http://www.freegaza.org )
The final speaker was Ewa Jasiewicz who spoke about the horrors facing the people in besieged Gaza in the aftermath of “Operation Cast Lead” and the ongoing theft of land, “bantustanisation” and repression in the West Bank. She also spoke about the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, saying, “The Russell Tribunal is an initiative to bring justice to the people of Palestine by using the rule of law to remind people everywhere that international law, the Geneva Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights are being violated by in Palestine by Israel every day. However states are still treating human rights obligations as a policy issue and not an obligation. We need pressure European Union states to realise that when they stay silent, when they trade arms and products with Israel, they are complicit with Israeli crimes.” (More info on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine can be found here: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.net )
Ms. Jasiewicz concluded with a message of hope, “Ordinary people are not complicit in this, and we can take action in support of Palestinians, action such getting involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. And we must remember that while today is a day of mourning in Palestine, we should also celebrate the fact that the steadfast Palestinian people are still on their lands, resisting Apartheid Israel and ethnic cleansing!”
The IPSC would like very much to thank all those who attended the protest, it was a truly horrible evening weather-wise, but your presence ensured that the international call by the Boycott National Committee (BNC) in Palestine for worldwide actions on Land Day was heeded and marked with aplomb in Ireland.
Related Link: http://www.ipsc.ie