Protest in Ramallah’s Manara Square, March 15 (Photo: Viva Palestine)
Over the past few weeks, I was asked a lot of questions, but perhaps none more than -what about Palestine? Why aren’t the youth rising up there?
Besides the fact that Palestine is a different paradigm altogether-what with an Israeli occupying regime on one hand-and two pseudo non-sovereign governments on the other, we also have the precedent of Palestinians already having risen up-twice (first and second Intifadas) against the Israeli Occupation-and setting the example for the first truly democratic elections in the Arab Middle East in 2006, which in and of itself a monumental act of change by the people.
Still, Palestinians are rising up-again. This time it is to demand the end of Palestinian disunity whose effects are felt deep within Palestinians society and families everywhere. Of course how we got there is important-it was the result of the CIA and regional sabotage of the Palestinian unity government brokered in Saudi Arabia and elections that took place years earlier. Which goes to show, change isn’t easy, and its not always what you expect; but “power concedes nothing without a struggle”…
Nevertheless, this was history, and here we are today, two Palestinians governments, both of whose terms have expired; a blockade on Gaza; and a continuing and ever-more viscous occupation. Palestinians have had enough-and view the first step towards true liberation from the Israeli apartheid regime as Palestinians unity; getting our house in order; defeating the self-defeatism and apathy and disillusionment that has slowly engulfed Palestinian society. In line with this hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza City [yesterday], and hundreds more began camping out in Ramallah’s Manara Square, in anticipation of [today]’s planned March 15 protests for Palestinian Unity, according to fellow bloggers and tweeps.
Among the demands (besides the obvious call for Palestinian Unity and Reconciliation) are:
-The release of all political prisoners held by the government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
-Full democratic representation for Palestinians all over the world-Gaza Strip, West Bank, 48 territories, refugee camps, and in the Diaspora (*remember, based on the Oslo principles, only Palestinians with Israeli-issued Apartheid ID cards who were physically present in the Occupied Territories could vote; no refugees on the outside; not even Palestinians stranded due to border closures, as I was at the time of the presidential elections).
-A complete overhaul of the PNC’s structures and the establishment of new electoral procedures.
There are several groups involved in organizing the decentralized protests, including the March 15 Group (Gaza and West Bank), the June 5 Group (West Bank and Gaza), Youth for Change (Gaza) student groups, and Palestinians in diaspora. Many issues statements specifically decrying attempts by either Palestinian government (both of which have vowed to allow them to continue unhindered) to co-opt the protests and consider the protests a first step on the path to achieving true liberation from Israeli Apartheid:
We affirm that the March 15th movement is by the people for the people, and is independent of any political party or institutional backing. It is being organized by non-partisan youth groups who dream of a better future for their people.
We invite all Palestinians, and particularly Palestinian youth, to come down to the street on March 15th. We will only carry Palestinian flags, and chant and sing for freedom, unity, and justice. March 15th shall be the day we stand in unity to demand democratic representation for all Palestinians as an affirmative step in our struggle for Freedom from Israeli Apartheid.
This post originally appeared on Laila El-Haddad’s blog Gazamom.