In a joint letter addressed to Prime minister N.Ramgoolam, Lalit and ex President Cassam Uteem condemns the ongoing aggression and continuing military occupation of Palestine by Israel. The Prime Minister is invited to use its influence in the COI, SADC, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement towards rallying around a common position in favour freezing of diplomatic relations, calling for an arms embargo and putting in action a boycott on Israel. The letter is published in full below.
The Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Navin Ramgoolam,
9th November 2006
We write to you to request that you take initiatives for a common stand with other Governments on the issue of the siege of Palestine.
The recent Israeli military aggression in Gaza including yesterdays outrageous shelling of houses leading to the deaths of 18 civilians is aggravating the situation in Palestine dangerously. Occupation is always unacceptable. But the brute aggression of Israel in Palestine has now reached emergency levels. Israels continuing tightening of its siege on Gaza, together with its daily military attacks, kidnappings and death-squad attacks, coupled with recent US-backed sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, are all combining to cause devastation on a scale that has reached genocide. As well as deaths by assassination, as a result of air strikes, through tank-attacks, from gunfire, there are now, due to the ongoing siege, inadequate water, electricity, and medical supplies, there is widespread hunger, poverty and unemployment, while schools and other services are unable to operate. If Israel continues with its policy of aggression, this will directly lead to the spread of disease, malnutrition and chaos.
We believe that everything should be done to increase political and diplomatic pressure on the Israeli regime to stop its siege of Gaza and to stop its war on Palestine.
It is time to campaign for the diplomatic isolation of Israel, an arms embargo, and for a boycott of its products, just as there came a time when the international community did this against South Africa in order to bring a halt to apartheid.
The idea of starting a boycott against Israel has already made its way in Mauritius. During the Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon last July members of your cabinet as well as the Lord Mayor and councillors of the Municipality of Port Louis took public stands in favour of a commercial boycott of Israeli goods. Lalit also addressed a petition to the UN General Secretary to demand an arms embargo on the Middle East. At the vigil night organised by "Lalit in collaboration with former President Cassam Uteem" in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Palestine, we reminded to the crowd present that in 1976 former Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in fact decided to freeze diplomatic ties with Israel. In view of the present Israeli military aggression in Gaza, in view of the ongoing construction of the apartheid wall in defiance of the International Court of Justice ruling demanding it to be dismantled, and in view of the continuing and extending colonisation of the West Bank, the same action of a temporary freeze in diplomatic ties is called for.
This should be coupled with a call for a total arms embargo on Israel, as well as a boycott on Israels exports.
We are thus making a formal request to your government to take the initiative and to use its influence in such forums as the COI, SADC, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement towards rallying around a common position in favour of this 3-pronged position: i.e. freezing of diplomatic relations, calling for an arms embargo and putting in action a boycott. In this way, through our elected representatives, we can take our historical responsibility and force Israel to pay a price for its immoral and illegal actions, thus making it reconsider and eventually end its use of military force against the Palestinian people and their organisations.
But we also realise that the end of military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land will depend also on the mobilisation of the people of Palestine and on the active support of progressive people and organisations in Israel. So through this letter we are at the same time expressing our solidarity with the different mobilisation campaigns in Palestine and Israel against the siege of Gaza and Israels military expansionist policy in general. We fully support the Week of Action against the Apartheid Wall (9th to 16th November 2006 ) to mark the five years of resistance against the destruction of Palestinian land. We support the 2006 "olive harvest campaign" to assist Palestinian farmers who face continuous attacks, burning of their land, destruction and stealing of picked olives by the Israeli army. We support Peace organisations in Israel, which have gathered together for a month of protest (4th November to 2nd December 2006) calling on the Israeli government and the international community to end the siege of Gaza and embark upon negotiations with the elected Palestinian leadership. In the same way we support the proposal to set up an International Citizens Tribunal on the crimes committed by the Israeli army and secret services in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.
All these initiatives show the growing movement against Israel inside Palestine, in Israel and at an international level. Mauritius must be part of this wave of solidarity and protest.
We hope that you will consider our proposal and contribute towards forcing the Olmert regime to act according to international law and to take firm steps to end the illegal occupation and continued colonisation of Palestine, and thus pave the way for peace in the Middle East.
Alain Ah-Vee for LALIT
153 Main Road
GRNW, Port Louis.