Alternative world forum supports Palestinian popular resistance

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The World Social Forum expressed support for Palestinian popular resistance and called for the rights of Palestinians refugees in its closing statement Sunday.

The week-long anti-globalization forum, held in Tunis, also called for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, the dismantling of Israel’s wall and an end to Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

The forum’s closing statement condemned normalization with Israel, by countries, institutions or companies, which it said allowed Israel to act with impunity.

The forum’s general assembly called for an embargo on arms to Israel and urged more flotillas to break the Gaza blockade. It also called for the dissolution and restructuring of the international quartet of mediators – Russia, the UN, the US and the EU.

On Saturday, more than 15,000 people marched in central Tunis chanting support for the Palestinian people.

“Land, liberty, dignity,” chanted the marchers as they made their way to the emblematic Habib Bourguiba Avenue — epicenter of the 2011 protests in Tunisia that sparked the Arab Spring in several Arab capitals.

The march was organized to coincide with Land Day commemorations in Palestine and parts of Israel to mark the 1976 killing of six protesters demonstrating against Israeli plans to confiscate Palestinian land.

The World Social Forum brought together some 30,000 individuals and 4,500 organizations who addressed a range of subjects from the environment to women’s rights.

The event, launched on Tuesday with another massive march in the heart of Tunis, casts itself as an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We are marching today to make sure that the rights of the Palestinian people to move freely by sea or land are respected, and against the blockade (imposed by Israel) on the Gaza Strip,” David Heap of the GazaArk rights watchdog told AFP.

Many marchers were draped in the iconic Palestinian black-and-white keffiyeh scarf.

Syrian dissidents, Chadian opposition members and officials of Lebanon’s influential Shiite movement Hezbollah marched shoulder to shoulder with citizens of France, Canada and the United States.

The peaceful protest wound its way from Habib Bourguiba Avenue to the embassy of Palestine some four kilometers away.

“We wanted to attend the forum which focused on a fundamental issue — the Palestinian cause,” said Ali Fayyad, a Hezbollah member of the Lebanese parliament who headed the party’s delegation to the forum.

Hundreds of workshops were held to discuss a variety of political and social problems, as well as the economic grievances behind the Arab Spring, the crisis in Europe and the role of women in the mostly Muslim Arab world.

The WSF has its roots in 1999 street protests in the US city of Seattle but its first edition was held two years later in Brazil’s Porto Alegre.

(Source / 31.03.2013)

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