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Last night - Candlelight Vigil of Renewed Palestinian Solidarity


Last night, there was a gathering held at LALIT in Grand River North West to launch a renewed Palestinian solidarity movement. Present were people who, over the years, were staunch anti-apartheid activists and Palestine support people, as well as youngsters not born in Apartheid times, and who have never before been to a Palestine support action. The atmosphere was serene and hopeful, the candles emitting light in these often dark times. 

Representatives of LALIT allies on Palestine were present from the CTSP, Muvman Liberasyon Fam, the Centre Goomany and the Consumer Advocacy Platform. The event ended with the candle-light vigil, between the bridge at Canal Dayot and the GRNW bridge, on the seaward side, a long string of glowing pearls threaded along the road-side at “social distance” one from the other, as traffic slowed while people read the banners, “No to Israel’s Apartheid” and “Support for the Palestinian people”. Before the candlelight vigil, there were talks by Guest Speaker, Former President of the Republic, Mr. Cassam Uteem, and two LALIT members who have participated in solidarity brigades inside Palestine three times, Alain Ah Vee, and Ragini Kistnasamy, who bring to life what living under military occupation means – thus cutting through the world media’s cover-up of this crime.

Presiding for LALIT, Lindsey Collen, congratulated the 60 or so people present for their perceptiveness in sensing the importance of being present in person at this pivotal moment in history. She said we were all fortunate to have as three speakers, the very three people who know more about the Palestinian struggle than maybe anyone else in Mauritius. 

During the course of the evening, just how pivotal the moment is, was made clear by all speakers. 

The moment is pivotal for the Palestinian struggle, when a week ago there was a secret meeting of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo representing Trump, Netanyahu for Israel and Prince Salman for Saudi Arabia in his country, speeding up the wrecking ball on the “two-state solution”. 

It is a pivotal moment for the whole of the Middle East with the assassination the day before of the Iranian scientist in charge of their nuclear program, probably executed by the lawless Israeli state with US approval, thus assuring that Israel keeps the monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East. It is a pivotal moment for the world as Donald Trump is voted out as President of the USA, and still refusing to concede defeat, while wreaking havoc and destruction on the world and his own country and people. Ragini Kistnasamy quoted the Israeli newspaper Haretz saying that Trump was involved in scorched earth policies in his final days, with Netanyahu holding the lighter. 

The moment is pivotal because the aim of Israel, the USA and Saudi Arabia regimes is now clear to everyone, i.e. to ensure the complete non-viability of the two-state solution, thus the need to support the new strategy that transcends the question of the two-state solution. The strategy is to accuse Israel of the crime against humanity of imposing a system of apartheid, a crime declared by the UN in 1966, and given treaty status in 1973, and placed in the 1998 statutes of the ICC as a crime against humanity. 

M. Cassam Uteem, as guest speaker, began by saluting LALIT for organizing an event in support of Palestine, when the Government and even the local UN bodies, are doing nothing for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and when the international media continues to collude with Israel. He reminded everyone of the contribution in Mauritius and all over the world to the struggle to end Apartheid. People might have said we were wasting our time, but we helped, in a modest way, towards victory. He then read the statement by the UN Secretary General on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity. He said, just as Lindsey Collen had said her mentor, the anti-apartheid human rights lawyer and UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Prof. John Dugard had said the apartheid imposed by Israel was “infinitely worse than that imposed in South Africa”, he, Cassam Uteem, would quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu who described the plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli Apartheid as “the same as living under South African Apartheid, only much worse.”

 Alain Ah Vee put emphasis on the resilience of the Palestinian people, and the importance that we add an international dimension to their struggle because they are up against enormous odds, just as we did in previous times in the Solidarity Morisyin Anti-Apartheid, and in the past in the Palestine Support movement. He also said that, because we were pivoting towards a case against Israel for its imposition of an apartheid system that South African activists had gathered a Global South initiative to add new voices to the world-wide network of Palestine Support.

Ragini Kistnasamy accused Israel of crimes that constitute Apartheid. First, fragmentation of the land and of the people. Guilty! she argued, outlining why. Second, repression and violent imposition of Apartheid. Guilty! she argued, giving details. Third, separation of people into different categories with different rights. Guilty! she again argued, with details.

All four speakers related the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinian people to the Chagos and Diego Garcia issue: “These are issues of military occupation, left over from the West’s colonization and domination of the world, and still not resolved. It is time to resolve them, and resolve them, we will!” 


Three resolutions were adopted by acclamation: 

*To call on the Mauritian Government, through the Prime Minister, to support the demand for a UN enquiry into Israel for the crime against humanity of imposing apartheid. 

* To set up a Palestine Support Committee. 

* That this committee would then subsume the existing BDS Committee and take on, as a first task, the international boycott of Puma products, Puma being a company that operates from occupied territories, and in other ways supporting the Israeli state’s illegal actions. 

LALIT, 29 November, 2020.