Meanwhile, in Palestine…
As Egyptian demonstrators in Tahrir Square are under severe attack from Mubarak’s juice-box hires, this is an account of a solidarity protest in Ramallah. The PA’s Mubarak-style tactics are even more damning in light of the Palestine Papers, which prove the PA’s complicity in US-backed Israeli annexation, invasion and transfer designs beyond any doubt. I quote with the writer’s permission:
I just got back from an impromptu protest at the Al-Manara Square in Ramallah. We wanted to express our solidarity with Egypt. Within the first few minutes of the protest, the Palestinian Authority riot police came out in full force—helmets, guns, sticks– and detained some of our colleagues. The number of protesters kept growing and the security officials kept pushing us onto the sidewalk, divided the group into two parts, and then began pushing us, yelling, and beating the protesters aggressively. We were totally nonviolent, carrying Palestinian flags, chanting slogans in support of Egypt, and singing Palestinian songs. I saw a young woman being dragged by several riot police while a group of protesters tried to help her. The PA was successful at breaking the protest up, chasing everyone away from all sides of the square so that we found ourselves totally scattered.
This is not the first time the PA does this. Just last week, we tried to organize a pro-Egypt protest and they broke it up and detained my friend (a recent Stanford alum and activist here). Before that, we applied for a permit to protest in solidarity with Tunis, and that was denied, and they broke up that protest as well. During the 2008/09 Gaza massacre, it was illegal to protest in the West Bank in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza. The international donor community is funding a police state within the West Bank ghettos as an additional layer to the Israeli occupation (The PA only controls 14% of the West Bank while over 80% of the WB resides in these bantustans). I never thought the day would come when the brutality and oppression against Palestinians would also come from fellow Palestinians. We have a long way to go here for freedom.
Update: Someone has sent me images taken with a mobile phone during the violent dispersion of yesterday’s protest. I am including their words for context. The provocative dispersal orders from people identified with the PA becomes more clear in the final pictures.
My hands are trembling as I write this, not sure if it is more from the cold or the emotions swirling up within me. Two text messages and a phone call informed me on a stand/protest in solidarity for the people of Egypt. The center of Ramallah started with a handful and slowly started to accumulate. One officer from the PA started provoking one of the young men and asking for his ID. Upon refusal, there was a tussle and more men came from both sides. He was suddenly grabbed and hauled off—most of the protesters followed in an attempt to intercept. 15 minutes later, the peaceful crowd were chanting in solidarity for Egypt, and slowly the riot police circled around the group and upon signal broke and scattered the protesters. They used sticks and confiscated cameras.
I could not think it could get worse. When I saw a woman pushed and surrounded by 6 helmeted riot police, and a group of women rushed to protect and thankfully the police backed off.
The one person who was had a camera and took footage of everything looked extremely conspicuous when was questioned by a plainclothesman. The cameraman dismissed him with ‘ana ma3 el mukhabarat’ (I am with the intelligence agency)
It was a peaceful protest with people singing traditional Palestinian songs and chanting slogans in support of the Egyptian people and yet dealt with so brutally.
This is a sad day. When our oppressors are our own people. Our own people who speak our language. Our own people who are as oppressed as we are, our own people who have been instated by a colonial power. This is a sad day. When the occupation has caused us to shove down our people (our sha3b) into submission, not by our occupiers but by those who have sold our cause.
This is a sad day. How far have we gone?
J’espère la Palestine connaitra des jours meilleur.