12 August 2018
400 weeks of Australian activism
As we celebrate the persistence and longevity of AFOPA's own BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) activist group here in Adelaide, I would like to take this opportunity to honour the sumud (steadfastness) of the Palestinian activists on-the-ground resisting the Israeli occupation, and the persistence of all pro-Palestine activists throughout the world.
Every day we see courageous activists putting their lives and limbs on the line for freedom. We also see activists of all ages and nationalities creatively bringing the world’s attention to the Palestinian cause.
Recently we have been inspired by the courageous attempt to break the siege of Gaza by the Freedom Flotilla activists. They board the boats knowing that the Israeli military has no qualms about killing any one on board, as occurred when they rappelled down from helicopters and slaughtered Turkish nationals in 2010. These freedom flotilla participants risk everything to bring life giving supplies to Gaza. Despite Members of Parliament and high profile celebrities being on board all the boats attempting to break the Gaza siege have faced violence from the Israeli military.
Recently activists on the Al Awda (The Return) vessel - including Australian journalist, Chris Graham - were injured when the boat was boarded by the Israeli navy in international waters on 29 July 2018. Others including the sick and elderly were treated roughly, repeatedly strip searched and had their belongings stolen before they were deported.
One prominent member of the group, Dr Swee Ang, an orthopaedic and trauma surgeon from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, was shocked to find that this “moral” army were just petty thieves stealing the antibiotics and bandages heading for Gaza and activists' personal belongings, including clothes. Despite everything Dr Ang remains defiant declaring:
"BUT we will not stop, we must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist. To do less will be a crime."
AFOPA’s BDS activist group heartily endorses her words and affirms that “we will not stop” until there is justice for the Palestinians.
Margaret Cassar, 12 August 2018