Hundreds of thousands across Europe, US, South Africa protest against apartheid Israel's slaughter in Gaza
More than 100,000 people protested in London on January 10, 2009. It was organised by Stop the War UK. Photos by LouiseFeminista
Massive London demonstration opposes Israel's Gaza attacks online only
By Simon Assaf
Socialist Worker -- January 12, 2009 -- Up to 150,000 people took to the streets of London on Saturday in a mass show of solidarity with Palestinians caught under Israeli bombs in the Gaza Strip.
The London demonstration was part of a wave of outrage at Israel. More than 10,000 marched in Edinburgh. At least 30,000 protested in Paris and 100,000 in Barcelona. There were further marches in the US, Norway, Greece, Malaysia, Sweden, Bosnia, Lebanon, Thailand, South Korea and India.
The London demonstration drew families, young people and trade unionists. As the march assembled Hyde Park had a thick covering of frost. Demonstrators braved freezing temperatures to march from Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, through Notting Hill Gate, up Kensington High Street by the Israeli embassy to a rally filling the road by Kensington Gardens.
The good natured and determined march spilled across barriers to block whole roads, bringing parts of West London to a standstill. Towards the end of the rally marchers were still passing Queensway right across Hyde Park.
Police initially claimed that only 12,000 people marched (the same figure they chose for a sizable, but far smaller march last Saturday), though they later increased this to 20,000.
Many protesters stopped outside the gates to the road containing the embassy, to throw shoes.
As the numbers grew after the rally, witnesses said riot police defending the gate sprayed white clouds of gas at a section of the crowd.
Some fainted as they were overcome by the gas.
Those who attempted to escape the confrontation found their way blocked by increasingly aggressive police.
Baton wielding riot police then stormed in from a side street to split the demonstration in two. In the panic many demonstrators became crushed against a double line of police barriers that blocked off the pavement.
Police pushed back people who were attempted to cross the barriers to safety. The pressure of bodies eventually caused the barriers to give way.
Furious demonstrators then succeeded in forcing the riot police back down the side street to release those caught in the crush.
Hours of confrontations followed with police eventually driving vans into the back of the crowd, as mounted police, supported by more police reinforcements, made several charges into the demonstration.
Many of the protesters took refuge in buildings to escape the ensuing police riot. Others were chased down side streets.
As they stumbled away a number of these were set on by gangs of police. They beat several people with batons and kicked them, as they lay helpless on the ground.
A section of the crowd then set up a series makeshift barricades to stop the police charges. This action allowed people to retreat safely.
The police riot continued into the evening.
One teenager, who found refuge in a building near the embassy gates, told Socialist Worker that they were eventually allowed to leave after being searched and photographed.
This latest violent action by police follows an incident on the demonstration on Saturday of last week when police charged protesters who had been blocked in an underpass.
It marks a new phase of violent police behaviour against anti-war demonstrations that have always passed off peacefully.
The demonstration was called by the Stop The War Coalition, the British Muslim Initiative and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
250,000 Spaniards denounce Israel's bloodshed
Press TV -- January 12, 2009 -- In the largest pro-Palestinian demonstration in Europe so far, over 250,000 Spaniards denounce Israel's bloodshed in Gaza and call for ceasefire.
Protesters in Spain's capital Madrid and in other cities, including Seville, Malaga,Oviedo, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Ourense, carried banners saying ``Peace'', ``SOS Gaza'' and placards with the word ``Gaza'' above a red-stained hand and mock blood-spattered bodies of children.
Police declined to give a figure but the organisers, which included the Socialist Party and trade unions, estimated the Sunday turnout at 250,000.
"It is my duty to call on Israel to implement an immediate ceasefire," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who had attended the rally, told protesters in Ourense.
Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem's mother Pilar, also an actress, was among the speakers who addressed the crowd.
"The Spanish government has to do something. The Gaza Strip is now practically a concentration camp," AP quoted her as saying.
Sunday's protests are a follow-up of Barcelona's mass demonstration the previous day, where police estimated the crowd around 30,000 but according to organisers accounts, 100,000 people took to the streets. The demonstration was organised by an alliance of groups, which in the past had organised mass protests against the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Spain has a Muslim community of around 800,000 out of a 46.1 million population.
Meanwhile, 30,000 people protested in Brussels on Sunday denouncing the Israeli carnage in Gaza. Children carrying effigies of dead and bloodied babies were at the head of the procession.
Also in the Italian cities of Rome, Naples and Verona, thousands of people marched in pro-Palestinian rallies.
Protesters take part in a rally in central Athens.
In Athens, Greece, dozens of children and their parents, carrying effigies and photos of bloodied children, marched to protest Israel's incursion and bloodshed in Gaza.
100,000 demonstrate in Paris
January 10, 2009 -- Middle East Online -- French protesters marched through Paris, other French cities to denounce Israeli's offensive in Gaza. Tens of thousands of protesters marched through central Paris and other French cities Saturday to denounce Israeli's offensive in Gaza and express support for the Palestinian cause.
Thousands of French men and women carried Palestinian banners, amid cries of "Israel murderer".
As the various groups gathered, portraits of slain Hamas chief Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah were carried behind those of revolutionary Che Guevara and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
A banner strung along a truck carrying a sound system declared: "Support for Hamas", as all the chants laid the blame for the fighting at Israel's door.
"We are all Palestinians. We are all children of Gaza," the cortege chanted as it set off down a treelined boulevard separating eastern Paris' districts from the Marais, the city's oldest Jewish quarter.
"I have no problem marching with Hamas. Hamas has been victim of a campaign of disinformation," Mark Cramer, a 62-year-old a former journalist from New York and founder member of Paris group "Americans Against the War."
Cramer put the blame for the collapse of the Middle East ceasefire on Israel. "There was a mediaeval siege against Gaza. That siege was violent. People were starving," he said.
Some 3800 police were deployed, equipped with riot shields and body armour, but remained discreetly in side streets as the crowd marched on under a sea of Palestinian and Hezbollah flags.
Despite the biting winter chill, organisers claimed a turnout of 100,000.
"We want to point to the hypocrisy of an international community which votes for tons of resolutions that it never enforces", declared Olivier Besancenot, the well-known leader of France's Revolutionary Communist League.
While the groups organising the demonstration focused their slogans on the suffering of Palestinian civilians, many homemade banners declared "Zionism equals Nazism" and depicted Israeli flags emblazoned with Swastikas.
Elsewhere in France, smaller crowds gathered for similar demonstrations in several cities. In Nice, on the Mediterranean Riviera, protesters smashed the windows of a McDonald's restaurant and threw stones at the Ruhl casino.
"McDonald's because they're American, they're the paymasters," one marcher said.
In the northern industrial city of Lille around 10,000 protesters gathered, according to both police and organisers.
Other protests took place in Toulouse in the southwest and Mulhoise in the east.
Tens of thousands protest across the United States
20,000 marched in Washington DC. Photos by Chango412
ANSWER -- January 11, 2009 -- On Saturday, January 10, hundreds of cities, and hundreds of thousands of people, responded to the call for an International Day of Emergency Action to support the people of Gaza. Outside the United States, marches took place in London, Edinburgh, Cairo, Athens, Kuala Lumpur, Beirut, Seoul, Mexico City, Jakarta, Montreal, Paris, Barcelona, Marseilles, Lyon, Oslo, Berlin, Bern, Karachi, Nablus, New Delhi, Amman, Sarajevo, Ramallah, Stockholm and Tokyo. The protests continue to grow -- today, another 250,000 took to the streets in Spain and more than 100,000 in Algeria.
In the US, the Day of Action was initiated on just one week's notice by a call from the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom, Free Palestine Alliance, National Council of Arab Americans, and Al-Awda - International Palestine Right to Return Coalition. In Washington DC, over 20,000 took to the streets in the freezing rain to demand, "Let Gaza Live!". The streets were so backed up that thousands of people in buses and cars were still arriving after the march had left Lafayette Park.
The demonstration began with a rally at the White House. Featured speakers included former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was just on a humanitarian relief mission attempting to bring supplies to Gaza when the boat she was on was intentionally struck by an Israeli military vessel; Mahdi Bray, Executive Director, Muslim American Society Freedom; Rev. Graylan Hagler, National President of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chairman, National Council of Arab Americans; Ralph Nader; Paul Zulkowitz, Jews Against the Occupation; Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice; and others.
The spirited march then led to the Washington Post, where demonstrators denounced the paper for its biased pro-Israeli coverage of the massacre and its complete blackout of protest activities in the United States.
In San Francisco, 10,000 took part in the march and rally. The rally included a huge outpouring from the local Arab community, and energetic participation from Bay Area youth.
A crowd of 2000 demonstrators confronted a heavy police presence in downtown Orlando for the "Let Gaza Live: Florida Statewide March for Palestine" called by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition/Florida—just six days prior. The demonstration is the largest anti-war demonstration in Florida in more than a decade and certainly the largest ever protest in Florida calling for a free Palestine. Police tried to intimidate marchers by initially searching all bags, forcing protesters to remove sticks from signs, and denying the use of amplified sound. Organizers and protesters challenged and pushed back their unwarranted scare tactics, and the protest turned out to be a powerful success.
In Los Angeles, 10,000 people participated in a regional mass march and rally to “Let Gaza Live” at the Westwood Federal Building. Hundreds of Palestinian flags and signs reading “Stop bombing Gaza!” and “The real terrorists: US/Israel war machine!” lined all sides of the street and the lawn in front of the federal government headquarters. It was the largest protest and the first major march in Southern California since the Israeli bombing campaign and invasion began.
A funeral procession led the march with makeshift coffins draped with Palestinian flags, representing the hundreds of people killed by Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza. Hundreds of children followed, along with a huge, hand-made Palestinian flag, in a contingent organized by the Palestinian American Women’s Association.
The worldwide movement is continuing to grow with more protests today, January 11. There will be countless other actions in the days to come. Today in New York City, the police carried out a violent assault against those marching in mid-town Manhattan in support of the people of Palestine. A number of people were injured and arrested.
With the support of the United States, the Israeli military machine has expanded its invasion into urban areas of Gaza. The death toll among Palestinians is now nearly 900, with many thousands wounded. The injured and hungry of Gaza have no relief. We must do everything in our power to deepen and broaden this movement in the coming days.
Malaysian police detain anti-war protesters
Malaysiakini -- January 10, 2009 -- The police have arrested 21 people, including member of parliament for Klang MP Charles Santiago and several top leaders of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia -- PSM, at an anti-war vigil at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. The vigil was organised by Anti-War Coalition to show support to the victims of war and aggression in Palestine and Sri Lanka.
About 200 people had gathered at about 8pm for the vigil, which was declared illegal by the police who were also present at the venue. About 100 light strike force personnel were on hand to control and disperse the crowd.
The crowd was ordered to disperse and the 21 were arrested for their failure to leave the area. They were then taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters. They are still being held at the police station.
Among those held were Parti Sosialis Malaysia leaders Dr Nasir Hashim and S. Arutchelvan, PKR’s Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani and several activists from Suaram and Jerit. Nasir is also the Kota Damansara state assemblyperson.
Abolish ISA Movement activist Norlaila Othman was also among those arrested. They are believed to be investigated for illegal assembly.
Small crowd at police station
Eye-witnesses told Malaysiakini that the anti-war protesters had first gathered at the Bar Council building before beginning to march towards Dataran Merdeka -- some 300 metres away.
Upon reaching the historic field, they then begun to lit their candle lights and unfurl their anti-war banners. These were stopped by the police. Attempts by Charles and Nasir to negotiate with the police to seek permission for a quick vigil were also turned down.
A small crowd had already gathered at the police station to show support for those arrested. They are being watched by the Federal Reserve Unit.
This is the first time the police have acted against an anti-war vigil in recent days.
Yesterday thousands had marched to the US embassy to object the Israeli aggression in Gaza without any police intervention.
Similarly another group of protesters in Kampung Baru was also allowed to burn the US and Israeli flags in the middle of the road yesterday afternoon without any police interference.
A police mockery
Meanwhile an activist narrated to AFP on the arrests.
“We were holding a candlelight vigil to demand the end to the killing of innocent lives in Gaza,” said E Parameswari, 30, an activist with Jerit, a group championing the rights of marginalised people in the country.
“Police used force to break up the gathering and arrested the 21 people including opposition lawmakers Charles, Abdullah Sani and Nasir,” she told AFP. “Police said our gathering was illegal,” she said. Parameswari condemned the police action, adding that the demonstrators did not provoke the police.
“The police action is an abuse of power,” she added.
Arutchelvan, the secretary-general of the PSM, told AFP they were being held in a police lockup.
“Our arrest makes a mockery of the position taken by Malaysia to condemn Israel. The way the police acted against us is no difference from the way the Israelis are treating the Palestinian people,” he said from the police station.
Thousands protest across South Africa for a free Gaza, call for sanctions and cutting diplomatic ties
By Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)
January 9, 2009 -- In Tshwane, Durban and Port Elizabeth, thousands of people protested today (Friday) against the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza by Israel. Some 2000 people laid siege to the Egyptian Embassy in Tshwane, while thousands marched in Durban, Port Elizabeth witnessed a placard demonstration, and a huge rally was held in Cape Town.
Today's actions follow a week of energetic activity by Palestine solidarity organisations throughout the country. Yesterday, 15,000 people marched in Cape Town and the city also saw placard demonstrations throughout the week.
The messages emerging from the protests and from the spokespersons of the various organisations have been:
- A demand that Israel ceases its ``genocidal campaign'' and withdraws its troops from Gaza;
- Calls on the South African government to recall the South African ambassador from Tel Aviv, expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa, and sever all diplomatic ties with Israel;
- Calls on the South African government to impose sanctions against Israel -- as has been called for by more than 200 Palestinian political, social and other organizations representing the vast majority of Palestinian society; and
- A commitment to a sustained campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
In addition, speakers at yesterday's march and at today's protests emphasised the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation of their lands.
Janet Cherry, in Port Elizabeth, spoke about the ``appalling humanitarian crisis'' in Gaza and called on the international community urgently to address the crisis and to force Israel to abide by international humanitarian law.
Speaking in an overflowing Mowbray Town Hall in Cape Town, Rivonia Treason trialist Dennis Goldberg attacked Israeli actions in Gaza, likened Israel to apartheid and supported the call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions. His call was followed by the adopting a set of resolutions, including a call on the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador and a call for a South African academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
In Tshwane, today, people from across the province protested against the involvement of the Egyptian government in the current massacres in Gaza. Salim Vally, of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, said that in the past 18 months, while the people of Gaza were under siege and no food, fuel or medicines were allowed freely to enter the territory, Egypt had ensured that it kept its border with Gaza -- the Rafah Crossing -- sealed as well.
``This resulted in untold suffering for the civilian population of Gaza'', he said. ``While the Gazan population has been starving, freezing and unable to receive medical treatment, Egypt collaborated with Israel to keep Gaza blockaded.'' He added that since this massacre began 14 days ago, Egypt has prevented ``the refugees of genocide'' from seeking refuge, and continues to prevent doctors from entering Gaza. Some 100 doctors are currently waiting at the Rafah Crossing, hoping that Egyptian authorities will allow them in.
Another speaker, Melissa Hoole, said Egypt was complicit with the Israelis and the United States in the oppression of the Palestinian people. She also debunked the myth peddled by Israel and its apologists that Hamas had ``broken the ceasefire''. ``The first projectiles that Hamas fired'', Hoole said, were after the ceasefire had ended and, despite Hamas' request, the Israelis refused to renew it. In fact'', Hoole emphasised, ``it was Israel which repeatedly violated the ceasefire. On the 4th November, Israel killed six Palestinians in Gaza, in violation of the ceasefire. For the rest of November, Gazans experienced numerous incursions and attacks by Israel.''
Vally added that Israel had, in fact, contravened the ceasefire from the first week because the agreement had stipulated that Israel would open all six borders between Israel and Gaza but Israel maintained its blockade.
The South African Communist Party's Richard Mamobolo expressed his party's support for a campaign of boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel. Mamobolo echoed the call by the Congres of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) -- issued in media releases and repeated at last week's protest in Johannesburg, yesterday's march in Cape Town and today's march in Durban -- for the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador and implements sanctions against Israel. The repeated calls for the severing of diplomatic relations with Israel were accompanied by chants of ``Viva Chavez, Viva'', in reference to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Venezuela by that country's president, Hugo Chavez.
Other slogans at the protest included: ``Free, free Palestine'', ``Phansi (down with) Mubarak, phansi'', and ``Long live the Palestinian resistance''.
A memorandum was handed over to embassy staff, addressed to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak:
To President Hosni Mubarak, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt
9 January 2009
We who have gathered today outside the Egyptian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, declare our belief that your government is complicit in the starvation and massacre of Palestinian people in Gaza.
We share the pain of Palestinians and people of conscience around the globe when we realise that, while the Israeli Occupation Forces continue to butcher Palestinians, your regime refuses fully to open the Rafah crossing. While Israeli bombs devastate schools, mosques and homes, and while Israeli forces have murdered almost 800 Palestinians and maimed about 3,500 in the past two weeks, you refuse to do the one thing that can bring a great deal of succour to an oppressed population. Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are without food, electricity, water or medicines.
It is impossible for you not to know that they are being massacred with tank shells, missiles and bombs night and day, that illegal weaponry such as white phosphorous and cluster bombs is being used against civilians. It is a human catastrophe. The atrocities include the killing of 42 women and children sheltering at a UN school. Despite the scale of suffering, you remain resolute in your collaboration with Israel and your determination to prevent Palestinian refugees from crossing into Egypt. To people of conscience, it looks like support for nothing less than state terrorism.
Your regime has fully cooperated with Israel's siege of Gaza, which has prevented goods, fuel, food and medicine from reaching the people. Palestinians built tunnels as lifelines. We again salute the Egyptians who helped them do this.
We cannot understand why, in a callous fashion, your government prevents even Egyptian doctors from entering Gaza. It shamefully prevents Egyptians from demonstrating against the carnage; it has arrested hundreds of Egyptian protestors. Despite this repression, tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets. We salute them.
Mr President, we know and remember that:
- On the 25th December 2008, two days before the bombing of Gaza began, the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit held hands with Tzipi Livni. To most of us in the rest of the world, this was a signal of your government's quiescence of the planned massacre of Palestinians. The murderous plan was hatched six months ago - even while Israel was negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas, with your assistance.
- The heads of Israeli and Egyptian intelligence met four days after the bombing. What did it mean what your security chief asked his Israeli counterpart why the campaign had not ended in three days as had been promised? What did it mean when the Israeli security chief responded that your security services had not provided sufficient information? Could we read anything into this but the blatant collaboration between your security forces and those of the Zionist state? Could this mean anything other than that your people assisted the Israeli Occupation Forces in their murderous plans?
- You said you will not open the Rafah border unless Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority takes control. In this statement are echoes of the Israeli, US and EU governments. But, have you forgotten that it was Hamas that was democratically elected in an election universally regarded as free and fair - an honour that neither you nor Abbas can claim? You have ensured that, in Egypt, emergency laws have been in operation since 1981 and there have been no real elections. You do not even allow your people legally to demonstrate or strike. Human rights abuses by your security forces, including torture, are rife.
- Under the brokerage of the US government, you signed a trade pact with Israel, providing cheap Arab labour for Israeli bosses. The pact makes Egyptian access to US markets conditional on collaboration with Israel. Workers in your country have protested against this economic blackmail, and have been brutally suppressed by your security forces.
We note, also, the current attempt by your government to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. While any attempts that will help stop the carnage and the genocide against Palestinians is welcome, we are concerned that this latest move seems also to aim to disarm Hamas, and, thus, depriving the Palestinian people of their right, under international law, to resist occupation by whatever means are necessary. Neither we, nor the Palestinian people, nor justice-loving people around the world can view as just a 'ceasefire' which disarms those who resist occupation and the genocide of their people while placing no restrictions on the arming of the murderous occupying forces.
We join with people of conscience around the world - including the majority of Egyptians -- in calling on you to:
1. Open the Rafah Crossing immediately and permanently;
2. Facilitate the movement of medical personnel, medical supplies and food into Gaza;
3. Recognise the democratic will of the Palestinian people and recognise Hamas as the elected authority for the Palestinian people;
4. End all collaboration with the Apartheid state of Israel;
5. Invalidate all trade and other cooperation with Israel;
6. Rally the rest of the Arab world to support the just cause of the Palestinian people, to end all relations with Israel and to implement sanctions against Israel; and
7. Release all those detained by your security forces for their protests against Israel.
Protest in Canberra, January 10, 2009
Photos by Amy_123