INTERNATIONAL RADIO ENDEAVOUR/ FIRE/
International Conference of Women in Black
"Women Resisting the Occupation and the War"
Feminista/Feminist International Radio Endeavour/FIRE
By Margaret Thompson & Katerina Anfossi
Calls for non-violent resistance to Israeli policies and actions both inside and outside Israel and Palestine have been one of the main themes of the 13th International Women in Black Conference in Jerusalem. A record 735 mostly women from 44 countries registered for the conference, which is entitled "Women Resisting War and the Occupation," held August 12-16, 2005.
After two days of panels and plenaries on conflict, peace & resistance issues, the international participants traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian women who were not allowed to travel to Jerusalem. A number of the Palestinian women gave their testimonies about the impact of the Israeli occupation on their lives. Afterwards the Women in Black traveled to Bil'in to join Palestinian villagers in a demonstration against the Separation Wall, which will divide their village once construction is finished.
In Ramallah, Palestinian women who in some cases had to travel 70 kilometers, met with about 350 peace activists from around the world. Israeli women including some organizers of the conference were not allowed to accompany the women, because it is illegal for them to travel to Palestinian territories.
of the Palestinian women gave their testimonies
about the impact of the Israeli occupation on their lives. One woman
talked about her three sons who were serving sentences in Israeli prisons, while another
cried as she told the story of her 11 and 15 year old sons were killed by the
Israeli military. Another woman described the six
years she had just spent in prison, as one of 127 Palestinian women
The Charter proposes to build a world where exploitation, oppression, intolerance and exclusion no longer exist and integrity, diversity, and the rights and freedoms of all are respected. Its demands include elimination of poverty and violence against women. The relay began March 8 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and will be passed along to women in 53 countries before concluding in Quagadongou, Burkina Faso on Oct. 17, 2005.
Many of the Women in Black participants then turned their words into action and joined Palestinian women and girls in the village of Bil'in for a demonstration against the Separation Wall, which as in many Palestinian areas will divide villages and take away land belonging to the Palestinians. Many countries have condemned this vast construction project as a threat to peace rather than a means to increase security as claimed by the Israeli government.
During the first two day of the Women in Black conference, participants listened to numerous panels and workshops, focusing on a variety of issues related to women, resistance and conflict. But just outside the event in the streets were nightly marches by large crowds of Israeli settlers and their supporters against the disengagement process in the Gaza Strip. During the settlers’ protests in Jerusalem, about 2,000 Palestinians were held by police outside the Old City, not allowed to go to their jobs or in some cases return to their homes.
Mainstream international media reports have focused primarily on the protests in Gaza by Israeli settlers and their supporters, which have become increasingly violent. But little attention has focused on efforts by a large number of peace activists among both Israelis and Palestinians to seek a non-violent resolution of the conflict, and a halt to the building of the Separation Wall. The Women in Black conference was timed to coincide with the disengagement process in Gaza, in order to support Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, and to explore parallels of conflict, oppression and resistance in other parts of the world.
may use all or part of this report and photos, but please cite as the source:
Radio International Feminista/Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE) at: www.radiofeminista.net
Photos by: Katerina Anfossi & Margaret Thompson
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Fuente: Radio Internacional Feminista/www.radiofeminista.net
Fotos: Katerina Anfossi y Margaret Thompson