January 12, 2009

on the ground report, Winnipeg rally for Gaza

Another YCLer and I get off the bus at the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange and cross Main Street. The crowd of people fills the sidewalks along the length of the block. I hear honking from agreeing traffic before I hear the passionate chants "Free, Free Palestine!" I notice a large amount of honking in fact. At times from one to three honking cars for every repeat of the chant, a high frequency. Hope on the sidewalk, hope in motorists even if they whiz by, they still hold potential.
One car however, a police ghost car, photographs us across the street. The State on one side of the street versus the People on the other, symbolic of policy versus informed opinion. "There's more police presence for people demanding peace and justice than at a bank waiting for a robbery to occur. What police force waits around for something to happen other than at protests?" I think in my head. The car is a regular feature anyways so I pay no more interest. The tragedy in Gaza is the focus of my concern.
Emotions run high at the massacre on the other side of this small world. A small program begins. A speaker recited a poem she had prepared. It needs to be posted in full:

Disgust. Hopelessness. Rage. Anger. But never hate.
Feelings that rush through my body as I watch news on Arabic satellite because everyone knows this would never be shown on CBC, BBC,
or any other multi-million dollar news corporation.
Because they're all corporations
Ringing your minds into herds of appreciation
Swallow you up into thinking you've got the news
But the information you have to use in bus ride debates
Is all false.
And why is this the truth? I ask you- what do you have to lose?

I'm disgusted because I can't believe
I can't conceive the images on TV shown to me,
a different side to the news that I watch by flicking the Arabic satellite off -
And propaganda has blinded my eyes once more.

It pisses me off that rallies happen now, while bombs went off two weeks before,
And I'm enraged because I'm feeling hopeless.
I'm only sixteen and nothing defeats me more than the cage I'm placed into because I'm
too young to have an opinion.
Hate. Hate. A word resounding, on Facebook profiles
people feeling this way in any house for miles,
but it does not continue in me.
Stop your search you've hit me.

I had the choice like all people on Earth do
To support or not to
To show up or not to
And I applaud you,
All of you who are here today, because I'm no longer angry at those who are not
and I'm tired of everything they've had to say-
because I've done my research
and now I've realized that being pro- Palestine is being pro- justice
And justice is only served with the realization of the truth
And the truth can only be found with a search of knowledge that can be used,
not bruised with Israeli organizations,
Israeli affiliations - because every corporation seems to be an Israeli corporation.

Bitterness is an understatement.
When news isn't being reported on news channels,
I know we're all in trouble,
and it's not because we've learned about a new terrorist organization-
because there's one going on in Israel-Palestine right now
and it's not the ones throwing rocks,
or making quiet footsteps in the sand,
but it's the ones with guns and bombs,
blowing up homes, hospitals and universities
Killing mothers, daughters, fathers and sons -
Palestine in its entity
another genocide
and we're ALL in for the ride
another holocaust - why can't we learn from history?
And why is a country of victims doing the killing?
Because isn't it a fact that years ago,
they were handed this land as a peace offering - a 'please forgive us for not helping when you were in need'
But I guess the U.N. hadn't realized, that when they gave these people this land,
they were putting generations of people aside.

Stolen sisters is a case
where people are trying to rid the femmes of their race,
right here in Canada.
But the discrimination of native peoples is happening in Palestine!
How many more do we have to lose?
How many rallies have gone on in front of this building, in front of every legislature?
In the past 60 years?
Lives. Ruined.
A better tomorrow for us will only happen when there's a better tomorrow for them.
No, forget that. When there's a tomorrow for them.
So call me an extremist because I am so for this cause,
But I'm not asking you to support me,
Rather support those in need -
My brothers and sisters, my mothers and fathers, grandparents and future granddaughters in Palestine.

Asma Mneina
Winnipeg, Manitoba
January 10, 2009

A biting wind made it very cold. Impressed with such powerful words, I approach the poet activist and ask if I may reprint it. She does and she hands me a scrap of paper to write an e-mail address upon. I try but the ink in my pen is freezing up. A man suggests she go inside to warm up, indeed her hands are shaking with cold. The address is gouged into the paper, (with success as you have read the poem above). The only violence came from a disagreeing motorist who stopped and punched a peace demonstrator. I did not witness the attack. It was a personification of the might is right doctrine- Righteous man feels he can invade the crowd and force us to change our views. I have more thoughts: that the police witnesses could be the media and international community in small scale. Will they stop the attack? I saw part of the crowd move away to help the victim then I heard the MC say "Come back, our lawyer and the police are dealing with it." With the cops in sight the whole time I should expect them to stop the attacking motorist (I'd be more paranoid if they only took pictures). No arrests. I reluctantly decide that the cops were on good behavior since at other times and places this would have been a reason to have the cops over react and attack the demonstration as a whole. Not today. Maybe it was the lawyer? The ghost car is gone, and the demonstration continued. The question is who will stop the Israeli government from its attack? We demonstrate with hope that we collectively will force someone to act.
You can read another account of the protest and speeches from it at the
Peace Alliance Winnipeg website for more local information. And read statements from the website of the
Canadian Peace Congress
I remind all in Winnipeg that these protests will continue every Saturday at 2 pm at the corner of Main and Water until further notice.

- Comments

1 comment:

  1. Bravo - may all the youth follow in your footsteps. Your words are true and passionate. If you do not fight against injustice, oppression and occupation for all peoples, then we will have completely lost our humanity. As someone who has followed this conflict for over 20 years, I am pleased that a 16-year old has expressed herself so eloquently and fervently. May God Almighty protect from all harm.


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