Between 15 and 25 people have been arrested and scores more injured after Palestinian Authority forces attacked a demonstration against the US President Bush in Ramallah with batons and pepper spray. Other demonstrators were attacked in Bethlehem.
In defiance of a crackdown on demonstrations by the Palestinian Authority, at noon around 700 demonstrators attempted to march to al-Manara square, while the US helicopters circled overhead.
In the wake of the demonstration, the Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign has released the following statement:
While Bush attacks Palestinian rights, the Authority attacks its own people
Our demonstration today was called to tell Bush that he is not welcome. He is a war criminal who has the blood of all nations in the region on his hands.
This was not just a demonstration against Bush. We gathered today to raise our voices against everything that he and the US administration represents: policies of war and occupation, denial of Palestinian rights, the trampling of international law, and support for racist Zionism and ethnic cleansing.
These policies are integral to the process discussed at the Annapolis conference in November. The Annapolis project, under the auspices of Bush, is designed to map out a future for the Palestinian people: a Bantustan government administered and controlled by a Palestinian Authority ruling the ghettos with the permission of the occupiers. This will never be acceptable for the Palestinian people.
We are already seeing what must be done to fulfil this vision in defiance of popular Palestinian will. It requires that the Authority become a dictatorship, prepared to silence the voice of the people with violence.
We saw this in November when we demonstrated against Annapolis. For it to be repeated here today confirms what we already knew. The repression was not an isolated incident, brought about by one-off political circumstances. This is now the policy of the Palestinian Authority. The transformation from popular liberation movement to oppressor, complicit with the colonial powers, is now nearly complete.
While Abbas met and discussed with the closest ally of our oppressors, his men were deployed in the streets to beat and teargas any who voiced their objection.
It is now clear who Abbas stands with: not with his own people, the people of Palestine whom he is supposed to represent. He stands with Bush, and his vision of a pacified Palestinian people in cages. In the public pronouncements of Abbasâs and his government today, they have referred to the occupation as an âobstacle to peaceâ: they refuse to talk about its true nature â that it is a crime against humanity, that it is illegal, that the Wall is a tool of the occupation and an integral part of the vision which is being set out for the Palestinian people.
Abbas made no mention of the right to return; no mention of UN resolutions; no mention of international law. It seems that his biggest worry is not the occupation, but the continuing resistance of the people.
Read the organisers’ statement.