Friday, March 18, 2011

The Hunger Strikers

Yes, we were pretty bitter in the last post. And God loves us for not putting us there at the moment some Fateh thugs showcased their manliness toward the demonstrators. We would have flipped shit.

 We were also not present when scuffles broke out between those Fateh goons and the demonstrators as the goons tried to hijack the protest, succeeding in putting out a couple of Fateh songs on the loudspeakers.

One thing we just touched upon briefly was the non-presence of the youths who had organized March 15th, at least during the time we went (from 1 to almost 3 pm). We realize that just because we didn't see or hear them, that doesn't mean they weren't there. One of the main organizers, Fadi Qur'an was attacked by plainclothes police. In the video below, he is crying out "Oh Palestinians, the mukhabarat/intelligence are beating me up!"

 As of now, the protesters have been hunger striking for three days now. They have camped out for as many days.
Sawt al Manara

In Bethlehem also, young men are are acting similarly, setting up tents for their indefinite sit-ins and hunger strikes around the Nativity Church. This article (in Arabic) gives a portrayal of the atmosphere. Here are some translated excerpts:

They are a group of youth that share not only a consensus of ideas, but the slogan "The People Want an End to Division". They chose the Church of Nativity square as their point of protest, and as the day ended, gathered around for a meeting to discuss the day's happenings, and to plan events for the days coming. Here, everyone is a president and a citizen and an artist, and everyone speaks freely, listening to the more younger ones before the older, all to declare their agreement for a new youth movement.

After the meeting which has become a routine affair, the protesters disperse quietly...some to assuage their hunger with what the owners of nearby shops offered them or from what other supporters brought to them. They assemble around a simple table that does not contain more than bread, falafel, and humus.

Others relax to the sound of a oud  playing and traditional Palestinian songs, as well as songs of Marcel Khalifa and Sheikh Imam. Another group discuss the Palestinian situation, the center of the protest against the continuation of the division. One young man is sweeping the place with a broom.

Back to Ramallah. Tonight at 6pm, there was a musical protest. It reminds us of this absolutely great video...but it doesn't quite fit. Foreigners will love and fawn over any form of creative protest but again this feels a little copied. Or maybe we're just reading too much into this. The poor souls need some festive cheer to cover up their stomach rumblings. Oh hold on, we've just received this. They are suspending hunger strikes as Abbas is due to meet Haniyeh in Gaza. Instead, they'll be hosting art events. They've been chanting, "we don't want a meal, we just want to end the division" which sounds better as always in Arabic.

Here's the real question though. Is a unity between Hamas, who reacted despotic-like toward parallel protests in Gaza, and the PA, who are essentially just proxies of Israel, collaborators, etc etc really in the best interest of the Palestinian people? When they finally kiss and make up, the next step naturally is to work towards ending the occupation. Their unity will of course unite main aspects of Palestinian society, but we must not be dependent on them to confront Israel. Especially when the PA has no qualms in meeting with Gabi Askenazi, the Israeli military chief of staff. We always must think ahead, be that one step ahead of everything. If unity happens, it will be more like some sort of a smokescreen, because unity is definitely not in the best interests of Hamas and Fateh. We can use that as pretext for enhancing our own voices, taking charge from there, and cleaning up the mammoth pile of manure they've dumped us in. There are three demands the youth groups have announced; unity, formation of a new PNC, and the release of all political prisoners. That list needs to be much longer. We are here for the long run, and not just to celebrate imminently "Unity Day" by forming rings and doing dabke.

UPDATE: The list did in fact get longer. Here's part of the press release sent out by the protesting youth in Gaza, who were met with repressive tactics by Hamas and their security forces, which led to some protesters taking refuge in the UNRWA compound.
1 - The release all political detainees in the prisons of the PA and Hamas
2 - The end of all forms of media campaigns against each other.
3 - The resignation of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad to re-build a government of national unity agreed by all Palestinian factions representing the Palestinian people.
4 - The restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to contain all the Palestinian factions and get back to its initial aim: Palestine's freedom from illegal occupation.
5 - The announcement of the freeze of negotiations until the full compatibility between the various Palestinian factions on a political program.
6 - The end of all forms of security coordination with Israeli occupation forces.
7 - The organization of presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the time chosen by all the factions

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