Political Theatrics : We have seen the bodies and heard the screams but now we get to stare at the names of these innocent men,women and children.Spread this far and wide; Let the world know of these people and that we shall never forget them.You can download the full document here and read all the names. Now we want to tell a wee story here, pull up a chair. Last January during the Gaza Genocide, people in Ireland were outraged. We have always felt a close tie to the Palestinians, and also the Lebanese, Syrians and even the Iranians (think US Dictator Shah of Iran)
So, as some of you will know, there are pivotal moments within the struggles oppressed people face. These moments are not always the ones where the most people die, nor are they always the most horrendous. But they are the ones that cause even the most non-political, non-violent, non-believer into taking action. They are the moments when massive amounts of hitherto non-involved people see the writing on the wall and decide “no more.” For people in the North of Ireland this was Bloody Sunday when the British paratroopers murdered civilians on a march through Creggan in the Bogside of Derry. After that, people from all walks of life qued up to join the IRA. And thus began the long war against Britain. How does this tie in to murdered children in Gaza? Keep reading;o)
I tell you this because Bloody Sunday is remembered every year in Derry where a huge march is held on the same route of the original march. Only last year it all changed for the very first time in history. The families of the victims decided bravely to dedicate the march to the victims in Palestine. You can see a video of the march here. In the video it is important to note Holding the Sinn Fein Solidarity Banner are Raymond McCartney MLA Sinn Fein jailed for 17 years by the British and also a former Hunger striker at the Maze prison, Martina Anderson MLA Sinn Fein Foyle who spent 13 ½ years in a British Jail, Gerry McMonagle Clr Sinn Fein, Gerry MacLochlainn clr Derry Sinn Fein who spent 3 years in a British Jail. Gerry Adams MP MLA President Sinn Fein interned and jailed numerous times, and Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein, again jailed numerous times by the British. Sounds like Palestine.
I traveled to the march last year to witness this historic event for Palestine, and what I remember most is not so much the sea of Palestinian flags being carried by tiny Irish children up to old age pensioners,nor the Palestinian flags waving in the wind as the Irish National Anthem played, truly a stunning event. But what I most remember was the wall at William Street where the march ended.
Upon arrival at the wall, it was covered with white A4 sized papers, each one had the name of a child murdered by Israel in Gaza. Some had photographs of these beautiful children alive in happier times, obviously taken by professional photographers for display in their homes by the proud parents. Not unlike what we all do in our own homes, never thinking for one moment the photo may one day come to symbolize the death of that child on a wall in a far away place such as Ireland. Even today writing this post, it is hard to remember the emotion of that day.
I stood staring at the names on the wall, although this is not a complete list of all the dead children as information at the time was hard to come by. I couldn't help but notice that the childrens names were plastered surrounding a memorial plaque to one of our IRA volunteers; John Starrs, Aged 19 from Derry, killed on duty fighting the British occupation force. It struck me that in death, a Catholic Irish freedom fighter would one day be united, in death, on a wall, with a muslim child from Palestine, both of whom died without having freedom, justice and equality. I was choked with emotion. And little did I know that months later when two friends joined the "Hope" convoy to Gaza, they would meet a woman on the convoy who saw my photos of that wall in Derry with the names of the murdered children online, and by seeing them realised her family members were killed. Oh God, how awful that we must be linked in such a way, all of Ireland's dead all of Palestine's dead. I wondered if the day will ever come when the major events of our years will not always be focused on our dead, for both our countries.
As the main speakers of the event began their speeches, I remained at the wall determined to read every single name and age before leaving. I owed them that. And the world owes them that too. So I offer you the chance to meet them (click to enlarge photos):
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM ALL