Thousands demonstrate in London against Nakba and assassination of Shireen Abu Aqleh

London /PNN/ report by Roddy Keenan

Thousands of people took to the streets of London yesterday (Saturday) to demonstrate against 74 years of Nakba and the assassination of Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Aqleh.

The event was called by a number of organisations, including the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), Stop The War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

‘The Nakba continues today,’ declared the PSC. ‘From Jerusalem to Gaza, via the Nakba, Israel continues its policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, displacing and oppressing the indigenous Palestinian population. While Palestinians living in exile, uprooted by Israel, are denied their right of return, a right enshrined in international law.’
The demonstration began outside the offices of the BBC, the British state media, where numerous speakers addressed those present. Amongst the thousands gathering, the large number of young people was striking.

From there, the thousands of men, women and children marched to Whitehall, the heart of the UK government, where speakers called for an end to the ongoing occupation of Palestine and demanded that the international community take action, rather than allow Israel to literally get away with murder.

The latter was particularly apposite, bearing in mind the cold-blooded assassination of Shireen Abu Aqleh by Israeli Occupation Forces last week, followed by the latter’s futile efforts to claim she was killed by a Palestinian bullet. The Occupation Forces subsequently demonstrated the levels of barbarism they are capable of descending to when they attacked the funeral cortege and those carrying Shireen’s coffin.

In Whitehall, a range of speakers addressed the massed flag-waving crowd, highlighting the oppression of the Palestinian people, criticising the refusal of the international community to take any action, and paying tribute to Shireen Abu Aqleh.

British Labour Party MP, Zarah Sultana, described Israel as an apartheid state, but reminded those gathered in the sunshine, ‘apartheid was defeated in South Africa – it will be defeated in Palestine too.’

A message of support from former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was also read out, in which he declared his ongoing commitment to justice for the people of Palestine.

One of the most enthusiastically received speeches came from Andrew Murray, the Deputy-President of Stop The War Coalition, who described Israel as a settler-colonial state who can only survive by violence.’ Murray went on to condemn Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, who Murray said ‘write blank cheques to the Israeli regime.’

The thousands that attended the demonstration had travelled to London from all over the UK, to voice their opposition to the ongoing Nakba, but also to demonstrate their fury at the murder of Shireen Abu Aqleh.

A large delegation attended from the Midlands, and Naeem Malik, chairman of the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Committee, spoke with PNN to offer his views as to why so many people were attending.

‘There is huge anger at what people are seeing taking place every day in Palestine, the shooting of civilians, and now the murder of another journalist. Then we see the Israeli efforts to divert international attention away from what is actually going on,’ Naeem explained. ‘It’s time for the international community to do something, rather than just describe events as ‘deplorable.’

Naeem went on to highlight the efforts that the West Midlands PSC are making to maintain a spotlight on events in Palestine and the Israeli occupiers’ apartheid regime. Aside from regular local events, Naeem is working on a Palestinian exhibition that will help raise the awareness of Palestine, its people, history and culture. While Naeem said the project is in its infancy, he is confident that such an exhibition will prove a success, helping to educate and inform people about Palestine.

And the importance of such an exhibit was underlined as the chant, ‘in our thousands in our millions, we are all Palestinians’ resounded throughout Whitehall.

Support for the Palestinian people grows stronger day by day, but the importance of continuing to highlight the ongoing apartheid in Palestine is crucial in securing justice and peace for every Palestinian man, woman and child.

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