Bedford PSC Demands Ceasefire & An End To The Gaza War

By Linda Jack, Chair of Unite Health and Local Government Branch

Over 200 supporters of the people of Palestine joined a march and rally from Bedford Park to Castle Mound to call for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza. 

With International Women’s Day and Mothers’ Day this week the focus was on the impact of this war on women and children. All our speakers were women, all passionate about doing what they can to demand a ceasefire, raise awareness of the horror that is unfolding in Gaza – and make their voices heard.

Rosie Newbigging Chair of the newly formed Bedford PSC reminded us: “We must keep marching. We march in peace. This rally, our 7th in the last few months shows our humanity and peace. We are appalled at the rise in anti semitism. We are appalled at the rise in islamaphobia. We are appalled at the hate speech of certain politicians. And we continued to be be horrified and outraged by the UK government complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people. Not in our name. It’s not those of us who call for peace who are extreme or a mob. We need to keep marching, don’t stop talking about Palestine. Keep making your voice heard”.

Rosie also read a message from the National Education Union who said: “We condemn the Israeli state’s campaign of collective punishment of the people of Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and the urgent delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.”

Cathrine Ward of Upenyu Nerwamagwana has just returned from South Africa and reminded us of how important the Anti-Apartheid movement was in challenging injustice and how that related to the importance of us continuing to challenge what is happening in Gaza.

As chair of Unite’s Health and Local Government Branch I, Linda Jack, spoke about the  experience of women in Gaza trying to protect their children with two mothers being killed every hour, with mothers being the last to eat and children being the first to die.

Cllr Lucy Bywater reminded us of how women bear a huge burden in times of violence, war and displacement and are more likely to bear the emotional and physical cost of caring for others – children, the sick, elderly relatives. She called for an end to the sale of weapons to Israel by our government, condemned IDF action against civilians and called for moral leadereship at home. She ended by reminding us that this is about basic human rights and basic humanity which should have “No Borders”.  As Virgina Woolf said, “As a woman, my country is the whole world…”

Lara Philips local businesswoman who led her school, Mark Rutherford, out in protest at the war in Iraq over 20 years ago, spoke emotionally of how she felt every time she looked at her children, imagining how she would feel if she was a mother in Gaza at the moment. She said: “the last time I stood and spoke publicly was at the Stop the War protest for Iraq over 20 years ago. And I really find so difficult that in all the time that has passed it is somehow still acceptable that one group of people in the world can be slaughtered in the most inhumane, barbaric, cruel, evil evil way, whilst other groups of people around the world are able to sit and turn their chair the other way.”

Dr Helen Connolly Chair of Remembering Srebenica, an expert in children, youth and forced migration highlighted the devastating circumstances for Palestinian children in Gaza where one child is killed every 15 minutes and 10 children a day lose one or more limbs. She highlighted the grave human rights violations children are being forced to endure as the main casualties of the atrocities. In so doing she  said: “in situations of mass atrocities, the vulnerability of children makes them an easy target. The killing and harms committed against them deliberately inflicts mental harm on communities and families as they grieve and try to apprehend the cruelty of what their children are being forced to endure.”

Dalia El-Saleh a Palestinian living in Bedford, spoke powerfully of our shared humanity said: “We will channel the power, resilience and love for our Palestinian brothers and sister in Gaza because we want to see peace born of justice and we will keep filling the streets until that happens. We will not allow them to divide us – we will keep coming together, regardless of our ethnicity, our colour, our faith – we will keep calling for a ceasefire and we will keep calling “Free Palestine, Free Palestine” until Palestine is Free!”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
This entry was posted in International Trade Unions, Labour Party, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *