SASG statement in solidarity with Palestine

We Stand With the Palestinian People! Ceasefire Now, Stop the Gaza Genocide, End the Occupation, Free Palestine!

A statement by South Asia Solidarity Group on the eve of the National March for Palestine, Saturday 21 October, Assemble 12pm Marble Arch, London

We express our deep and unconditional solidarity with the people of Palestine, who are facing a genocide in Gaza at the hands of the settler colonial apartheid state of Israel. We stand with the people of Gaza as they mourn the victims of Israel’s latest murderous atrocities on children and adults, whose numbers are daily rising. We condemn the horrifying war crimes being committed by Israel including blocking all food supplies, water, electricity and fuel alongside a bombing campaign targeting hospitals – numerous hospitals had already been bombed by the Israeli forces in the days preceding their attack on Al Ahli Baptist Hospital – schools, homes, and people following Israeli instructions to flee. The very high proportion of children killed and injured itself chillingly reflects the fact that homes are deliberately targeted. We are appalled that such horrors are being unleashed on more than two million people, half of them children, who are trapped in the densely populated ‘open air concentration camp’ of Gaza. That this is a deliberate genocide, a colonial war of annihilation is made clear to anyone who still requires proof by the statements such as that of the Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant who has called Palestinians ‘human animals’ and that of Netanyahu who called the genocidal attacks a war between ‘the children of light and the children of darkness’ (in a tweet only deleted when its verbatim reproduction of Nazi phrases was pointed out). We affirm once again the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to resist colonialism and apartheid.

We condemn the US administration and its imperialist allies who are using lies to justify once again escalating military support for Israel, emboldening it to continue to commit war crimes on an unprecedented scale. In Britain, not only PM Rishi Sunak and the Conservative cabinet but Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy and shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry have facilitated the war crimes of collective punishment and forcible transfer of civilians by unequivocally supporting Israel’s right to ‘self-defence’ in the face of extensive evidence of these crimes. Even as Keir Starmer hypocritically tries to do damage control against a mass exodus from his party, he refuses to name Israel as the perpetrator of the crimes in Gaza. We support the initiatives to prosecute these leaders for aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We stand with Palestinians in Europe and North America facing renewed criminalisation and persecution at this time of trauma and suffering. We condemn the wave of Islamophobic racist hate which has been deliberately unleashed and has already claimed the life of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in Chicago. We refuse to be silenced by the oppressive clampdown on all those in the West who stand with the Palestinian people. In Germany, protests against the Gaza attacks have been banned and face brutal police violence. In France too, pro-Palestinian protests have been banned and Palestinians are being deported including 72-year old Mariam Abudaqa, a women’s rights activist in Gaza and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who has lost family in Gaza. Here in Britain, Home Secretary Suella Braverman repeated on record the Islamophobic lies about the treatment of Israeli hostages even after the White House had been forced to admit that there was no evidence for them. Her drive to criminalise the Palestinian flag and the chant ‘From the River to the Sea’ as antisemitic is not only a deliberate misrepresentation but shamefully silences the many Jewish people who are participating in protests against Israel’s genocide. We stand with our many Jewish comrades who are at the forefront of the campaign against the settler colonial apartheid state and who are having to endure the weaponization of the Holocaust by today’s fascists in their name.  

As an organisation which seeks to amplify the voices and demands of peoples’ movements for justice and democracy in South Asia, we cannot ignore the ideological affinities and political links between Hindutva and Zionism and between the Israeli state and the Hindu supremacist Indian state under Narendra Modi. In its occupation of Kashmir, the Indian state has for several decades adapted Israeli tactics and used Israeli weapons against the Kashmiri people. Since the BJP came to power at the Centre in India in 2014, the relationship between India and Israel has turned into an open alliance, with India purchasing some 50% of Israeli arms sales. Meanwhile within India, the genocidal attacks on Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Adivasis and other minority groups, the dehumanising hate speech, the disenfranchisement of Muslims, the bulldozing of Muslim homes, the mass incarcerations, the rewriting of history, the removal of Kashmir’s limited autonomy and the advent of a form of militarised settler colonialism in Kashmir, and the attempts to brand any criticism of the Modi regime as ‘Hinduphobia’ all bear hallmarks of the Zionist model.

Despite the fascist Hindu supremacist Modi regime’s support for the apartheid state of Israel, and its supporters’ systematic spreading of Islamophobic hate both in India and globally, there remains a deep affinity among Indians of all faiths for the Palestinian people in their fight for a sovereign nation, coming out of the shared experience of colonial oppression. We stand with left and progressive forces in India in their determination to resist and counter the beleaguered Modi regime’s attempts to shore itself up with hate- and fear-mongering rhetoric about terrorism, and to strengthen these bonds of solidarity between Indians and Palestinians as part of the struggle to defeat the forces of fascism in India.

As South Asians, we also strongly reject the narrative which claims that India succeeded in gaining freedom exclusively through non-violent agitation, holding this up as an example which Palestinians can or should emulate. While Palestinians have in reality engaged in extensive non-violent movements such as the Great March of Return of 2018-19 and been met with mass killings by the Israeli state, we must also remember that the long struggle against British colonialism in the South Asian subcontinent took multiple forms throughout including armed uprisings, bombings, assassinations, and many other strategies of resistance. In fact today’s climate is deeply reminiscent of India’s First War of Independence (or the ‘Indian Mutiny’) of 1857 in which much embellished narratives of gory violence against British women and children were used to justify collective punishment by the colonisers on a vastly disproportional scale.  

We will continue to protest, and join the mass demonstrations in London and elsewhere in Britain demanding an immediate ceasefire, an end to the genocide and a free Palestine.