Solidarity with Palestinian Women!

March 9th, 2012 | Posted in Canada, Solidarity, Tadamon!

Tadamon! statement by Freda Guttman for International Women’s Day protest.

    Photo: Palestinian women protest at border crossing in Rafah, Gaza Strip.

This International Women’s Day, we recognize the struggles of Palestinian women in their fight against an entrenched system of discrimination and segregation. Khitam Saafin, chair woman of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees describes the challenges that Palestinian women face.

“The first challenge is the occupation itself. The occupation is a crime as are its policies and strategies against our people – arresting of people, confiscation of land, taking of water sources, the checkpoints and other means of restricting our movement, the siege of Gaza – all these are considered to be crimes against humanity in violation of International laws. The burden of massive oppression in any society, as we know, falls on the shoulders of women.

The second challenge is the traditional society which is still considered an obstacle towards full equality, dealing with woman as equal people in Palestinian society. We know that this social challenge is a global challenge for women, even in countries which have secular or more equal laws, based on a historical discrimination against women.”

Palestinian women are on the frontlines of the popular resistance every day- at rallies, at checkpoints, in prisons and even in their own homes. They have jumped on the blades of bulldozers to prevent the uprooting of olive trees, they have marched in weekly demonstrations against the apartheid wall. They hold it together for their families and friends when homes are demolished or relatives are imprisoned.

Palestinian women have also been at the forefront of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. As many of you are likely aware, the Call to BDS was launched in 2005 with the support of more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations. Aiming to place pressure on Israel to recognize Palestinians’ right to self-determination, the BDS call has three demands: to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip, to grant equality for Palestinian citizens inside Israel, and to respect the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Many Palestinian women’s organizations have been involved in the BDS movement since its’ inception. The call has also been endorsed by many international feminist organizations, including the Federation des Femmes du Quebec here in Montreal. BDS tactics continue to gain momentum today and represent one of the most powerful ways in which we as feminists and allies can stand in solidarity with Palestinian women.

Recently a Palestinian man, Khadar Adnan who was detained under Administrative detention, went on a hunger strike for 66 days and gained so much international attention that Israel capitulated and agreed to release him in a month. Administrative Detention means that the Israeli military court can imprison a person for up to 6 months on secret evidence that neither he nor his lawyers can see. The sentence of A.D. can be renewed endlessly.

Such is the case of a Palestinian woman named Hanaa Shalabi who after having been kept under A.D. for more than 2 years was released in the exchange of many prisoners for the release of Gilad Shalit held by Hamas. But 4 months after her release she was rearested violently in the middle of the night and once more sentenced to 6 months in prison on secret evidence. She was beaten, blindfolded and forcibly strip-searched and assaulted by a male Israeli soldier. In a refusal to accept such treatment and the use of A.D. she began a hunger strike now in its 22 day.

As the world marks International Women’s Day, the mother of hunger-striking detainee Hana Shalabi appealed to the international community to save her daughter. “I demand that the world stands by her now. My daughter is dying in prison. We are also dying here. This is my appeal to the world,”

Shalabi’s lawyer Mahmoud Hassan told Ma’an she is determined to maintain the strike until she is released. She appeared weak and exhausted in a court appearance and was shackled and handcuffed,

From the cold, dark prison, and after three weeks of an open-ended hunger strike, Palestinian detainee Hana Ash-Shalabi saluted Palestinian women on the occasion of International Women’s Day and said: “I will not compromise my freedom and my right for any price, and I have decided to continue my hunger strike for my dignity and the dignity of all those struggling for freedom and liberation. Palestinian women will always be the spearhead of resistance against the occupier and the symbol of generosity, patience and steadfastness.”

And let us boycott Israeli products until the wall falls. Let us refuse all forms of academic and cultural cooperation until Israel dismantles its’ apartheid policies and respects Palestinians’ rights to self-determination.

Let us recognize and celebrate the sacrifice and struggle of Palestinian women, as we do for all women fighting for liberation and social justice around the world.

Onward with the feminist struggle! Free free Palestine!

Freda Guttman, Tadamon! Collective.

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