Exclusive conference coverage from openDemocracy 50.50: Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire writes Breaking the Silence on Palestine for our Defending the Defenders conference.
About 10 years ago, Doctor Mona El-Farra, one of Palestine’s greatest woman human rights defenders, visited Northern Ireland. Dr. Mona lives in the occupied Gaza strip, and she came to share with us the story of occupied Gaza and its people. Many people in the audience were moved to tears on listening to the painful stories of ongoing collective punishment of war and bombardment by the Israeli military upon the civilian population of Gaza. The majority of Gaza’s Palestinians are children and under the age of 2l years of age. Collective punishment of a civilian population breaks the Geneva conventions and is a war crime. What struck me was Dr. Mona’s comment ‘every single person in Gaza is completely traumatized by so much violence and war.’
Today this collective punishment by Israeli Government policies goes on. Why has it lasted so long? The Palestinians have been most cruelly punished by Israeli policies of occupation, war and destruction. They say that ‘silence’ is golden but in the case of Gaza and Palestine, the ‘silence’ of the world regarding the plight of Palestinians, especially little children, shows a lack of moral and ethical leadership by the international Community. It behoves us to ask ‘why is President Obama not saying: ’70 years of Israeli occupation is enough – it is time for Peace for the Palestinians’?
openDemocracy 50.50 has been covering the Nobel Women’s Initiative biennial conferences since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy’s own authors. Visit their website for more coverage of our 2015 International Conference: Defending the Defenders.