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ISM Update of 8 March 2003: Int Women's Day

ISM Update of 8 March 2003: International Women's Day

Tulkarem: ISM Activists Express Solidarity with Palestinians on International Women's Day

Today thirteen women and three men of the ISM and the International Women's Peace Service (from Sweden, Italy, Germany, the US and the UK) attending an International Women's Day march and rally organised by the General Union of Palestinian Women in Tulkarem. Patricia Katagiri of the IWPS made the following speech on behalf of the international women activists at the rally in Tulkarem's town centre:

We are women from Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United States. We’re here to celebrate International Women’s Day with the women of Tulkarem, the women of Palestine and women around the world.

International Women’s Day has always been a day to honour the strengths and achievements of women and to celebrate our unity. But it’s also a day when we stand in solidarity with all women everywhere who are waging many kinds of struggles.

Some of them are the same as ours. What we want for you is what we want for ourselves – to live the lives we want to live as women and to fulfill our potential.

But Palestinian women are struggling against a major threat to this goal – the Israeli Occupation.

At 4:00 o’clock this morning three Israeli jeeps roamed the streets of Tulkarem camp, their sirens blaring. Israeli snipers had occupied a home and hid themselves. They were there to terrorize the camp and carry out one of their many violent assaults against the people. On the street we met women who were waiting to go to work in Israel to pick strawberries. They will work a long, hard day, be away from their small children and families and in the end, receive very little pay. They stopped us on the street. They told us how only yesterday soldiers had entered their homes, and destroyed them, how they made all their children – adults and children alike - undress and stand outside in the cold and rain. They asked us – why do we deserve this? The Palestinian people want to live their lives like anyone else. Where are the governments, the politicians, the people to help us, t

Fighters who don’t have enough to feed themselves or their families because their husbands are out of work. Fighters who are denied access to medical care because of curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints. Fighters who cannot go to school or whose children can’t go to school because of school closures. And if they do go to school they face soldiers, teargas, and the possibility of being shot. Their homes are demolished and their land stolen. Their family members injured, killed, or arrested.

At this moment over 60 women are in Israeli prisons where they are subjected to torture and inhuman conditions.

Yet you and the women we met in the dark street this morning continue to organize in the interests of women, to educate yourselves, to go to work, and to provide for your families in the countless ways that make it possible for this great society to carry on. We see this. We see that what you do every day is vital to the resistance, vital to fighting the Occupation.

It is our responsibility as women who do not face this oppression to bear witness and tell other women around the world what life is like here for you. If we do not do so, if we are silent and do not provide support, we turn our backs on the meaning of this day.

It is an honour to stand arm in arm with you, confronting the bulldozers, the Israeli soldiers; witnessing you protecting your olive trees and land, witnessing how you carry on life after your sisters, husbands and brothers are martyred or in prison. We know that our many struggles are yours, and your struggle for freedom is ours.

It is a privilege and an honour to be here and to march with you through the streets of Tulkarem to celebrate this day. We look forward to the time when we can do so again when you have won your freedom against this cruel Occupation.

© Scoop Media

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