“We demand to all Palestinian Political parties and civil society organizations unifying behind a Popular Nonviolent Struggle for liberation”
Leaders representing the entire Palestinian political spectrum joined hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli, International civil society representatives and activist organizations for the 6th Annual Bil’in Conference for Popular Resistance. Together, they issued a demand to the national and international community in unifying behind the popular nonviolent struggle, including the endorsement of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The conference was dedicated to slain activists Rachel Corrie, Vittorio Arrigoni, Bassem and Jawaher Abu Rahmah and Juliano Mer-Khamis.
During the opening session, Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad called on the international community to promote Palestinian self determination, saying that “The international community must be committed to promoting a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders and supporting the planned declaration of independence this coming September.” He also called on the international community to protect and safeguard Palestinian nonviolent resistance and specifically referred to the recent arrests of Bassem and Naji Tamimi of the Nabi Saleh Popular Committee.
Cindy Corrie, the mother of the murdered International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie spoke of the tragedy which all mothers, both Israeli and Palestinian, have experienced in the course this conflict. She applied to the civil society on both sides to embrace nonviolent tactics.
More than 20 diplomats from around the world attended the opening, including Maxwell Gaylard, Deputy UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Christian Berger, Representative of the European Commission, and the Consul Generals of Spain, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Romania, Poland and Austria. The United States, France, Sweden, Germany, the Czeck Republic, Hungary and Ireland have also sent lower level diplomatic representation.
In a live video feed from the Gaza Port, Jaber Wishah of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, announced the launching of a naval peace team that will accompany Gazan fishermen and report on human rights violations as part of the Civil Peace Service Mission – Gaza. The project is supported by more than 50 international and local organizations, including the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.
The crowd drew inspiration from the climate of democratic revolutions that have swept the Arab world. Throughout the week, grassroots leaders from popular struggle committees shared their needs and strategies highlighting the role of women and the socio-political dynamic of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions which are applicable to Palestine. Activists from the Palestinian popular struggle conveyed their steadfast commitment to resistance and innovative approaches to the ever-increasing encroachment of settlements, the Apartheid Wall, and repression.
Egyptian activists proudly emphasised that their countries revolutions was deeply rooted and inspired by the Palestinian popular struggle. They expanded on the resource fullness, creativity, and above all, the Palestinian peoples’ ceaseless commitment in their resistance of the oppressive Israeli regime.
The conference was concluded with a peaceful demonstration by the delegates and Bil’in residents. Israel responded immediately with the usual aggressive military tactics resulting in 15 injuries, including 3 international activists and a journalist. Four protestors were arrested, three of which were international human rights activists.
Final agreements of the conference:
1. TO STRENGTHEN AND IMPROVE THE COORDINATION OF THE PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY WORKING FOR POPULAR NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE:
o Celebrating next April 2012 the 7th Bil’in International Conference for Popular Resistance.
o Creating a committee to follow the organization of a National Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance with the aim to improve the internal coordination between Palestinian civil society mobilizing for change. A committee of three will be in charge of coordinating with other civil society representatives in order to celebrate the National Conference before next October 2011.
2. TO STREGTHEN INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT TO PALESTINIAN POPULAR NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE
o Endorsing CPSGAZA – A Civil Peace Service for the Palestinian Waters monitoring human rights (www.cpsgaza.org). We agreed upon: (1) Strengthening our efforts in order to recruit more supports to CPSGAZA. (2) Establishing a fundraising infrastructure. (3) Spreading awareness and promoting educational campaigns in our countries regarding CPSGAZA. (4) Recruiting international observers and trained professionals to join CPSGAZA.
o Supporting the Italian Water Caravan in the West Bank of next September. Participants stressed on the need to plan similar events and campaigns and stressed on the need to connect those activities with international boycott activities towards Mikorot, the Israeli water corporation, responsible of several violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory.
o Strengthening the International Network for Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance (www.internationalpopularstruggle.org) and starting an international campaign in solidarity with the prisoners of the popular struggle.
o Endorsing the Palestine Kairos Document (www.kairospalestine.ps)
o Endorsing the Freedom Flotilla Movement, and continuing the pressure and accountability for the Israeli military responsible for the attack to the last flotilla.
3. TO SUPPORT BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL
o Supporting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, based on the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS, as the most effective way of solidarity with Palestinians
o Respecting all rights of the Palestinian people in solidarity campaigns with Palestine
o Promoting the outcomes of the Russell Tribunal sessions on Palestine that took place in Barcelona and London, and promoting the upcoming session in South Africa on the applicability of the crime of apartheid to Israel.
o Supporting, developing and promoting the Agrexco campaign, including legal action against Agrexco, as a very important campaign in the BDS movement.
o Working on more coordination amongst BDS activists around the world. Encouraging activists to join existing coordination email lists (cultural boycott, JNF, derail Veolia, stop agrexo, armstrade, elbit), and developing new mechanisms for coordination when needed.