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"Palestine Diaries" launched in Port Louis


Lalit member, Ragini Kistnasamy's book PALESTINE DIARIES was launched on 16 January by the former President of the Republic, Mr. Cassam Uteem in a moving ceremony in the Mayor's Lounge at the Municipality of Port Louis. Mr. Uteem lauded the courage of Ragini Kistnasamy for visiting Palestine as part of a political vision, and said that the PALESTINE DIARIES had given him an understanding of life under military occupation in Palestine that he had not got through all his other reading and all his learning about Palestine in his life. He also commended LALIT for its constancy in both ideas and actions supporting the people of Palestine. He quoted from the DIARIES, visibly moved, to show what olive trees mean to people in Palestine, and also to give details of kinds of obstacles that are set up to bar Palestinians' movement, encrouch on their land, and dispossess them.

Ragini Kistnasamy, the author, began by referring to President George Bush when he visited Palestine last week saying, half laughing, that he had not come across any checkpoints on his way to Bethlehem. After giving her own experience of Palestinians who live in and near Bethlehem as they wait at checkpoints to get to work in Jerusalem, she asked what kind of peace George Bush could have in mind when he could make a "joke" like the one he made, if it was supposed to be a joke. She also said that the Anapolis talks missed the whole point, in pretending that a people completely oppressed by military occupation, can be expected to hold talks with the occupier while the occupier continues to control their every movement in life. She said that the question is "How can Israel get away with its totally unacceptable actions?" and "How can US and European countries get away with supporting Israel the way they do?" She said the answer was simple, it was because people in the world don't know, people in the world are prevented from knowing. One of the quotations Mr. Cassam Uteem had read out of a young woman asking Ragini Kistnasamy, when she got back, to go and tell people what it was like and to invite them to come and see for themselves, she said, was important because that was what was necessary in the face of the unprecedented, continual falsification and suppression of knowledge and of the truth. If the American and British people knew the truth, they would prevent their Governments from supporting the Israeli regime, she said.

Present for the launch were a large delegation of Chagossians, Amnesty (Mauritius) leaders, the former Chief Justice and UN Human Rights Commission member, Rajsoomer Lallah, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, Dr. Vinesh Hookoomsing, representatives of the Palestine Support Committee, LALIT and MLF members, and interested people. Everyone sat and stood in the Salon Mairal of the Municipality of Port Louis.

Alain Ah-Vee presiding for LALIT, said that the Prime Minister had last week replied to our letter calling for him to take initiatives with other Heads of State in the African Union to end the seige on Gaza, saying he had referred the call to his Minister of Foreign Affairs. Alain Ah-Vee's speech had a vital ring of truth to it because he, like Ragini Kistnasamy, went to Palestine. In 2004 he participated in the international march along the length of the Apartheid Wall.

Lindsey Collen, co-presiding for Muvman Liberasyon Fam, began by showing those present a copy of a magazine in which the MLF in 1980 denounced the first Camp David agreement, which worsened the situation of Palestinians. She linked the women's movements stand against the occupation of Palestine and Iraq with the long-term political actions on the end of occupation of Diego Garcia and the Chagos. She also, turned a page in the magazine that dated from 1980 to show that Mr. Cassam Uteem, too, was featured 27 years ago. This constance was, she said, remarkable. She expressed appreciation of the physical and psychological bravery of both Ragini Kistnasamy and Alain Ah-Vee for going to Palestine, although she says they, rightly point out that Palestinians day-in-day-out face this dangerous reality.

The launch was accompanied by an outstanding exhibition JERUSALEM of photographs by Garo Nalbandian. The exhibition was leant to LALIT and MLF by the Palestine Support Committee.

The book PALESTINE DIARIES, the first-ever publication in "diary" format in Mauritian Kreol, is available at Rs 50.