BOYCOTT ISRAEL! FREE PALESTINE!
Over 1000 people showed their solidarity with the people of Gaza at a demonstration today. There were several speeches, including one from the Palestinian ambassador. He told the crowd of how the Israeli foreign minister Ehud Barak shot his mother in the face – the ambassador was only 10 years old at the time and remembers his mothers bloodied corpse. Everyone was touched by his speech and also over the seriousness of the situation. I heard some teenage boys beside me say “Lets fuck em up shall we”. I tapped one of them on the shoulder and shouted through the darkness, waving flags and speeches “Please don’t cause a riot. This is supposed to be a peaceful demonstration”…. The boy who looked Pakistani turned away clearly embarrassed. He huddled off with his friends who I could see were asking him “what she say?”.
Then we marched together: Africans, Pakistani, Palestinian, Norwegian, Swedes, Arab, Christian, Palestinians shouting slogans of support for our Palestinian brothers and sisters: “boycott Israel! Free Palestine!….. Boycott Israel! Free Palestine!…”
We passed a few boys who were now covering their faces and I realised that they were planning something, but I prayed that it was only some kids freezing and not a riot that was about to take place. Around the Kings Park and up to the Israeli embassy we continued to shout our slogans, wave our banners and people banged on drums. The police were already waiting for us and had blocked off the road to the embassy with steel barricades and police vans.
We continued to shout and the atmosphere changed. People were becoming more angry, and there was more tension in the air. Suddenly there were some firecrackers thrown and I could see a fire ahead. were they burning flags? Then another fire cracker. Then there was smoke. Then more. And then a few shots. Suddenly we couldn’t breath. Parents with their babies in prams and children by their side started to run in the direction we had come from. Tear gas filled our lungs, burnt our eyes and scorched our skin. We couldn’t breath and for a moment I knew what it was like to suffocate. Suffocate like the people under the rubble in Gaza. Suffocate like the people in Gaza who have suffered under months of blockades. Hundreds of us ran for cover from the tear gas. Some ran into hotels and shops spraying their faces with water to escape the pain. With my skin and lungs burning, I saw a woman ahead of me half stumble as she coughed, I patted her on the back “Are you ok?” I asked through my scarf while gasping through the gas. “Yes….. yes…” she coughed violently trying to loosen her hijab to cover her mouth.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. It was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration but what else can you expect when people with families and friends in Gaza see the slaughter on their TV screens. It would have been better if we had been able to hold our stand for at least 2 hour in a peaceful protest and make our mark. Perhaps we would have gained more, instead of being dispersed after 3 minutes, but then again maybe our angry voices and solidarity with tens of millions of other people across the globe will now send a clear message that enough is enough.
Video of the demonstration can be seen here: