Fatimah Ahmed reports on the national demonstration commemorating 74 years of Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and in response to the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
An estimated fifteen thousand people came from around the country on Saturday and marched in London to protest 74 years of ongoing Nakba faced by the Palestinian people.
Demonstrators gathered outside the BBC headquarters at Portland Place and marched to Downing Street in solidarity with the Palestinians and in support of Shireen Abu Akleh, who was assassinated by Israeli forces in Jenin earlier this week.
The death of the Palestinian journalist and the violent attacks on mourners at her funeral has sparked an international outrage. This revived rage could be felt throughout the crowds of protesters yesterday. The message from London was loud and clear – we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation and we urge our government to end its complicity in Israel’s apartheid system.
Banners and placards were held calling for justice, not only for Shireen, but for the many Palestinian journalists who have been targeted and killed for reporting inconvenient truths. Activists held 74 keys as a visual representation of the 74 years of Israel’s brutal violence and displacement of the Palestinian people. People of all ages and backgrounds came together to show support and solidarity, the protest was fuelled with anger and passion.
Labour MP Zarah Sultana further fuelled the crowd with her speech where she made it clear that apartheid will be defeated in Palestine, as it was in South Africa. Sultana sent an unambiguous message to the residents of Downing Street – “silence is complicity” and we will not stand by it. The speeches continued as we heard from Labour MP John McDonnell and many campaigners from several organisations who each inspired the crowds to continue marching, protesting and boycotting.
In one united voice, the crowds chanted “Free Palestine” and united we will continue mobilising for Palestine from London. We will continue to make it unequivocally clear that our government’s complicity and silence does not reflect us. Saturday’s protest encouraged a sense of hope, and we will continue to stand together in our thousands and in our millions with the Palestinian people.