One week after the Israeli assault on the people of Gaza, LALIT together with the Idriss Goomany Centre, on Tuesday 20 November, held a candle-light vigil in support of the people of Palestine, and in particular the people of Gaza.
From 6:30pm people began to gather under the arocaria trees in the yard of the LALIT headquarters, and on the Royal Road.
As it got dark, some of us lit a candle with a wind-shield around it, while others lit old-style kerosene lamps. The event then at any one time had 11 people, in turn, standing with a candle on the side of the Royal Road, while the others just inside the yard, gathered around listening to speeches, paying homage to the endurance and dignity of the Palestinian people, in this protracted time of difficulty.
The event started with listening to the Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) clip, Song for Gaza, the hauntingly beautiful rendering of We Shall Overcome. There is an image of one of LALIT’s members, Ragini Kistnasamy, in the clip, when she was on the Gaza Freedom March in 2009, a year after the last bombardment of Gaza by Israel.
Ragini Kistnasamy spoke at the event, telling of the dignity she had found amongst the people of the West Bank when she was there as a volunteer and witness on two occasions, in 2004 and again in 2007. She was also on the Gaza Freedom March, which the Mubarak Regime prevented from getting access to Gaza through the Raffah Crossing.
Alain Ah-Vee, another LALIT member, who volunteered in 2004 for the action along the length of the Apartheid Wall, that terrible monstrous construction that the Israeli State has built, in order to further dominate Palestinians.
Before they gave their eye-witnesses accounts of life under military occupation, former President of the Republic of Mauritius, Cassam Uteem, spoke. He referred to the speech given by Gideon Levy, the renowned Haaretz journalist, on the extent of the brainwashing of the people of Israel. He called for a popular boycott, and for Government to help organize sanctions. He said that the one power that could put an end to the continued massacre is the USA, but that President Obama has not done this.
Father Filip Fanchette spoke of the suffering of the people of Palestine, and in particular, of Gaza, and said that symbolically, the central personage of his religion, Jesus, was a Palestinian. He called for a minute’s silence.
Jayen Chellum, a representative of the consumer Association (ACIM) called for associations to stop having links with Israeli organizations that do not denounce the Israeli State. He called for an end to accepting “scholarships” and said we should go one step further and refuse all donations from States which support Israel, in particular, the USA and UK.
Norman Tanbanivoul, for the Centre Idriss Goomany, drew attention to the number of deaths, deaths of civilians, of women and of little children; to the destruction of the Palestinian leadership, and to the bombardment of civil government offices. He also spoke of the media having become targets now, with two of their buildings attacked by the Israeli Army.
Lindsey Collen, concluding for LALIT, asked people, if they want a structure to help understand the Palestinians’ struggle, to do a bit of research (it is easy enough on Google, she said) on 4 periods:
-The Balfour Declaration, in British Colonial Times (1917).
-The Nakba, or catastrophe of 1948, when nearly a million people had to flee their homes and often their country, under threat of violence from the new Israeli State.
-The 1967 Israeli attacks, that cause hundreds of thousands of new refugees.
-The present time of trying to wipe out the State of Palestine altogether, through conscious violent colonization of both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, through a state of siege on Gaza, and through direct bombardment.
She then asked for resolutions to be endorsed, three of them already discussed and agreed upon, and the fourth as a resolution-in-preparation:
-For a boycott of all Israeli produce, that is to say any product beginning with the bar code 729.
-For countries, starting with Mauritius, to call for sanctions, including a total embargo on arms sales to Israel.
-For the Mauritian Government to organize the diplomatic isolation of Israel, beginning with the African Union.
And finally – To all consider and discuss the total boycott of funds and scholarships from Israel, and from countries that finance Israel, like the USA.
The resolutions were voted by acclamation.