In Turkey, Palestinian student leaders call for support to BDS movement

Istanbul: With mounting pressure on world community to bring an end to mass killings of people in occupied Palestinian lands, students in Istanbul on Wednesday called for support to BDS (Boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel) movement.

Historic city of Istanbul witnessed massive protests since the controversial opening of United States Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday when Zionist Israeli troops shot dead at least 60 civilians and injured nearly 2500 others.

Founded eleven years ago, BDS has had a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

Raising slogans in favour of the besieged people of Gaza where the massacre was committed by Israeli troops, the students insisted upon the need for community work for Gaza which is facing an economic blockade by Tel Aviv.

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The student leaders who addressed the gatherings said that Israel is “mowing the lawn” in Gaza. “Every now and again Israel will return to the strip with brute force intending for nothing less than death and destruction. This death and destruction are as deliberately limited as they are brutal. The intention is not to wipe Gaza off the map, the intention is to further degrade the Palestinian people and destroy their will to live by killing their loved ones, and somehow making an already uninhabitable open-air prison less habitable. When the grass grows, you cut it. When the Palestinians rise, Israel quells them,” said a researcher from Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University at one congregation which was held in solidarity with the Gazan people.

BDS is a Palestinian led movement for freedom, justice, and equality. It is a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world.

The students decried the silence of Arab world, however, they exclaimed, “one day will come, and it is not far, when Palestine will be free and people will live with dignity.”

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In a controversial move which has invited sharp criticism from across the globe, the US shifted its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 15. Jerusalem houses holy Al Quds mosque and is considered as capital of future state of Palestine and the move has enraged people who came on roads and marched towards the Gaza border.

The day coincided with ‘Nakba’, or the catastrophe, when at least 7 million of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by Israel in 1948 and were forced to live as refugees in Gaza strip and in other parts of the world.

A Palestinian student who held the banner “Al Quds belongs to Muslims”, said, “beyond signs of rhetorical or symbolic commitment, the Palestinians bear the brunt of their tragedies in solitude, and without assistance. And even the symbolic support Palestinians receive is being offered less and less.”

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Seeking coordinated support from student community in Istanbul, the student leader said that the sense of resilience and resistance among Palestinians did not emerge as the result of the world’s support, “but in spite of it”. “It is true that the Palestinians are resilient people; it is true that, with only 4 hours of electricity per day; with an unemployment rate of 45%; with only 5% of potable water available, and where 50% of children express suicidal thoughts, the Palestinians still manage to resist the tyrannies of the Israeli occupation.”

Seeking support of the student community to raise the awareness about the situation in the occupied territories of Palestine, the Palestinian student leader said: “Students can take one concrete step to translate their outrage and pain that they feel for the Palestinians by their support to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

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“Despite these incredible achievements, the Palestinians have yet to achieve their freedom. That day will come, Insha Allah,” said one-woman protestor on the occasion.

“With, or without the help of our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters. But the question you must ask yourselves is whether you want to sit by and wait for liberation or actively work toward it and be a part of it. The Palestinians need our help. They need our help financially, morally, they need our prayers, they need our guidance, and they need our leaders to take more deliberate action,” the student protestors said.

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