Today at around midday, the Palestine support common front, Mauritian Solidarity with People of Palestine (SOMALP), held a lightning demonstration in front of the Government House in Port Louis. Participants had planned it in 48 hours. We then woke up today to the news that four participants in another Palestine support demonstration held yesterday morning had been arrested at 2:00 a.m. by police. We express solidarity with those arrested in this totally unacceptable fashion.
We decided, after co-ordinating amongst member organizations, that SOMALP would go ahead with our planned demonstration anyway, despite the clear dangers of arrests.
We had only one yellow banner saying “Support for Palestinians: No to Israeli Apartheid”, and we stood more than one metre apart, and there were only 10 of us in the demonstration proper. All this was designed to avoid the Quarantine Act being used against us, but we know full well that we nevertheless risk arrest. Other people from the organizations we represent (see list below) were present in support, from across the Royal Road, keeping physical distance because of the Covid-19 rules. Police officers came and “warned” us under the Quarantine Act to disperse. We usually get “warned” under the Public Gatherings Act, so that was a change. We stood our ground until we had been seen on the busy main road and until the Press had been informed of our demands, then, having made our point, we did disperse.
With Queen Victoria’s statue behind the demonstrators, the anti-colonial aspect of the Palestinians’ struggle today was both highlighted and placed in history, and in still-present colonial statues.
Here is a list of the specific demands SOMALP put forward for today’s demonstration, copies of which were distributed by members present across the road from the demonstration proper:
1. The Mauritian Government must at once suspend all diplomatic ties with the Israeli State.
2. The Mauritian Government must sign up to the international movement to declare Israel an “Apartheid State”, apartheid being a crime against humanity.
3. The Mauritian State must cut all links with Israel, like those of the companies under the Central Electricity Board, the prison authorities and any other state department, and apply sanctions against Israel.
4. Israel must stop bombing Gaza.
5. Israel must lift the state of siege over Gaza.
6. Israel must stop its military occupation of Palestine.
7. Israel must stop forced displacement of Palestinians and all its colonization projects in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
8. USA must stop financing the Israeli armed forces and all countries must impose an arms embargo on Israel.
Remember: An army of occupation does not have a “right” to defend itself.
It must stop occupation, lift the state of siege and stop its colonization.
It is the people of Palestine, who live under military occupation,
who suffer displacement and colonization, who have the right to defend themselves.
10 Organizations that are members of SOMALP
Confederation of General Trade unions (Vinod Seegum)
Confederation des Travailleurs des Secteurs Publique et Privé (Reeaz Chuttoo)
Mauritius Labour Congress (Haniff Peerun)
All Workers’ Federation (Haniff Peerun)
Federation of Parastatal Bodies and Other unions (Deepak Benydin)
Dr. Idrice Goomany Treatment Centre (Samad Abdus Dulloo)
Consumer Advocacy Platform (Mosadeq Sahebdin)
Chagos Refugees Group (Olivier Bancoult)
Muvman Liberasyon Fam (Ragini Kistnasamy)
LALIT (Alain Ah Vee)
Individual Founder Members
We have some 50 members including former President of the Republic, Mr. Cassam Uteem, former Attorney General, Barrister Jean Claude Bibi, and former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, Vinesh Hookoomsing.
Article by LALIT, on 17 May, 2021