The shame of the Slovaks, the moving speeches of the Palestinian diaspora, and the shouts that rang through the whole of Bratislava. This too is what our protest for the freedom of Palestine looked like.
Who were we doing the protest for?
Before we write about the event itself, let us begin with photographs of the victims of the genocide perpetrated by Israel. Although the photographs do not fully do justice to the suffering of the Palestinian people, we hope that it will become clear why support for Palestine is important, especially at this time.
Speeches under the sculpture of partisans
On Saturday, October 21st, we gathered at SNU (Slovak National Uprising) Square in Bratislava to stand up for the victims of the genocide perpetrated by the State of Israel in Palestine. While politicians from the President to the Prime Minister to the Speaker of Parliament have thoughtlessly supported this fascist apartheid state and illuminated Bratislava Castle with its flag, we have refused to betray our values and have once again joined the struggle against imperialism.
Our Vice-Chairperson, Alexandra Aganbegović, spoke first under the statue of the partisans, a symbol of the illegal struggle against fascism.
European leaders are arguing about how Israel has the right to defend itself. Against whom, may I ask? What kind of ‘defence’ is this? The Israeli entity is occupying Palestinian land, it is murdering Palestinian people, women, children, the elderly, the ill, and entire families.
On Tuesday, Israel carried out a bomb attack on a hospital and a church, murdering over 800 people. On a hospital! That is a sick and sadistic war crime. Is this a defence? Are they defending themselves against the ill and the children?
We also addressed an appeal to the Head of State: ‘Madam President, you have expressed your support for the two-state solution, so stand by it. Communicate with the representatives of Palestine, not just Israel. You have closed yourself into an information bubble that has deadly consequences. Listen to the voices of Palestinians crying out for help and pleading for their families and children to be saved.”
Despite inviting dozens of public opinion-forming media to our protest rally, only a few outlets bothered to show up. Those that did cover us immediately resorted to using the word “terrorism.” We foresaw such a development, and because of that, we specifically addressed them in the speech.
Media, give the Palestinians the space to speak out and defend themselves. They are constantly portrayed as nothing but terrorists devoid of humanity. When you, the media, talk about dead Israelis, you say they have been killed, but when you talk about dead Palestinians, you say they have died. Let us put it bluntly, those Palestinians have been killed, and they have been murdered by the torrential rain of bombs and rockets that are dropped on them every day.
Media, you have the power to decide what people will see and what they will form an opinion about.
Show them the massacres in Gaza, for the eyes of the people mustn’t remain closed!
A mediated speech by our close partners in the Palestinian Communist Youth followed. They pointed out that Israel’s actions are nothing short of a war crime, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. They also stressed that Israel is not the only one with blood on its hands. It is given aid by the imperialist countries of the West, namely the USA, Britain, France, and Germany. The Palestinian communists categorically rejected and condemned the deportations and further displacement of the Palestinian people.
Eternal honour and glory to our martyrs!
Long live international solidarity and the struggle for freedom!
Long live the revolutionary spirit of the oppressed people!
The representatives of the Palestinian diaspora also gave speeches, namely Inas Ibrahim, a medical student, and Talal Ali, a surgeon. They shared their outrage at the ruthless slaughter of the Palestinian civilian population. As Dr. Ali noted, given that Israel has cut Palestine off from the necessities of life, including electricity, local doctors are forced to operate under the light of cell phones (not to mention the threat of a bomb attack any second).
The event’s chief guest was the Ambassador of the State of Palestine Safa Khaldi. She praised the participation of all present as courageous and critically important. She pointed out that Israel’s actions repeatedly violate the international law. She therefore also asked the international community not to sit idly by but to act and help the suffering Palestinians. She urged those present to realize that while it is normal for parents to see their children grow up in Slovakia, it is a dream come true in Palestine. And those dreams are being destroyed daily by Israeli bombs and bullets.
Artur Bekmatov, our founding chairman and current chairman of the Socialisti.sk party, brought the presentations to a rousing conclusion:
Through the city to the embassy
The march through the city via Franciscan and Main Square followed. Shouts like “Palestinians are human!”, or “Save Gaza!” rang through the centre. In addition to the curious faces, we earned the applause of some passers-by, which was pleasantly gratifying.
We stopped in front of the old SNT (Slovak National Theater) building, where the next part of the program had already been prepared. While the victims of Israel’s destruction have been displayed on the screen, the Ambassador recited a poem by Mahmoud Darwish – To Our Land in Arabic. The recitation was followed by an artistic performance by Nawras Rashed, a student of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts. Holding a baby in a traditional keffiyeh scarf, she sang songs of resistance while being wrapped in police tape. Her performance symbolized the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom to the very end.
At the end of the event, those present had the opportunity to light a candle for the victims of the genocide. After a minute of silence, we ended the protest and engaged in pleasant conversations with the participants.
We sincerely thank all those who came in person, as well as those who could not come for various reasons. Your support means a great deal to us.
We are already hard at work on a video of the protest!