While Bush attacks Palestinian rights, the Authority attacks its own people
Between 15 and 25 people have been arrested and scores more injured after Palestinian Authority forces attacked a demonstration against the US President Bush in Ramallah with batons and pepper spray.
A sit-in at the Orthodox Club in Ramallah rapidly escalated at protestors attempted to march to al-Manara square.
The organisers, the National and Islamic Forces, the Palestinian Grassroots Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign, the Prisoners Association and the National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba called the action to voice their condemnation of the visit, in defiance of the crackdown on protest in the West Bank.
At noon around 1000 demonstrators gathered near the Orthodox club in the center of Ramallah, and began to push towards Clock Square, near al-Manara. The police immediately attempted to disperse the demonstration by beating the protestors and spraying pepper spray while US helicopters circled overhead.
Today’s events are part of the ongoing repression of popular demonstrations in the West Bank. On November 18 a popular demonstration upholding Palestinian national rights was repressed while Mahmoud Abbas was meeting in Annapolis.
Statement by the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
Our demonstration today was called to tell Bush that he is not welcome. He is a war criminal who has the blood of all nations in the region on his hands.
This was not just a demonstration against Bush. We gathered today to raise our voices against everything that he and the US administration represent: policies of war and occupation, denial of Palestinian rights, the trampling of international law, and support for racist Zionism and ethnic cleansing.
These policies are integral to the process discussed at the Annapolis conference in November. The Annapolis project, under the auspices of Bush, is designed to map out a future for the Palestinian people: a Bantustan government administered and controlled by a Palestinian Authority ruling the ghettos with the permission of the occupiers. This will never be acceptable for the Palestinian people.
We are already seeing what must be done to fulfil this vision in defiance of popular Palestinian will. It requires that the Authority become a dictatorship, prepared to silence the voice of the people with violence.
We saw this in November when we demonstrated against Annapolis. For it to be repeated here today confirms what we already knew. The repression was not an isolated incident, brought about by one-off political circumstances. This is now the policy of the Palestinian Authority. The transformation from popular liberation movement to oppressor, complicit with the colonial powers, is now nearly complete.
While Abbas met and discussed with the closest ally of our oppressors, his men were deployed in the streets to beat and teargas any who voiced their objection.
It is now clear who Abbas stands with: not with his own people, the people of Palestine whom he is supposed to represent. He stands with Bush, and his vision of a pacified Palestinian people in cages. In the public pronouncements of Abbas’s and his government today, they have referred to the occupation as an ‘obstacle to peace’: they refuse to talk about its true nature – that it is a crime against humanity, that it is illegal, that the Wall is a tool of the occupation and an integral part of the vision which is being set out for the Palestinian people.
Abbas made no mention of the right to return; no mention of UN resolutions; no mention of international law. It seems that his biggest worry is not the occupation, but the continuing resistance of the people.