From California to Texas, from London to Lisbon, from Berlin to Istanbul, a wave of popular outrage against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands exploded into vociferous demonstrations in the past few days.
25,000 people walked through central London, 11,000 in Berlin, 10,000 in Amsterdam, 30,000 in Paris, 5,000 in Istanbul, 3,000 in Rennes, 2,000 in Lisbon and 1,000 in Berkeley, California, in protest against the illegal Israeli occupation of the internationally-recognised Palestinian homeland.
Other demonstrations of solidarity for the Palestinian cause took place in various cities in the USA.
In Portugal, many public figures joined a crowd of 2,000 people in front of the UN mission in Lisbon, the same place where in 1999, thousands of people gathered every day in protest against the Indonesian massacres of the Maubere population of East Timor, who had voted for their independence, alerting the international community of a problem it had decided to ignore.
Ex-President Mario Soares, the former President of the UNO General Assembly Freitas do Amaral, the leader of the Portuguese Left Block, Francisco Louca, ex-Prime Minister Maria de Lourdes Pintassilgo, the writer and Socialist Member of Parliament Manuel Alegre, among other public figures, joined the crowd in a human chain linking the Israeli Embassy to the UN mission, a distance of one kilometre.
As elsewhere, the authorities grossly underestimated the number of participants. The Lisbon police declared that around 1,000 people had taken part. Given that the distance covered by the human chain was one kilometre, and that the chain doubled back from the Embassy to the UN mission and back again, the people occupying only the space where they stood, basic mathematics points towards a minimum of 2,000 people, quite apart from the others who took part in the demonstration but not the human chain.
Around the world, the chants were the same: “Bush! Sharon! Murderers!” “Sharon, terrorist!” “Stop the genocide in Palestine!”. In Lisbon, the most chanted was “Arafat president, Sharon terrorist!”
Mario Soares told Pravda.Ru that the demonstration was important to make people aware of what is happening and to start a process whereby the international community can help to save the Palestinians. He declared the action as a “moral movement against the Israeli operations, which greatly exceed the any anti-terrorist arguments”.
Francisco Louca, leader of the Left Block in the Portuguese Parliament declared that “The Israeli occupation is illegal and Sharon is a war criminal. The action goes against all that is acceptable”.
After a petition was handed in to the UN mission, the demonstration moved against the Israeli Embassy, where for one hour, the crowd shouted “Bush! Sharon! Murderers!” and “Arafat President! Sharon Terrorist!” as nervous faces peeped out from behind the curtains in the Embassy.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru