05 August, 2006

Press release: Citizens protest Israel's brutal war against Lebanon and Gaza

Citizens in New Delhi protest against Israel's war

More than 120 writers, poets, activists, journalists, lawyers, queer rights activists, communal rights activists, womens issues activists, child rights activists and other citizens held a 2-hour peaceful protest near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi today, Saturday August 5, to demand a immediate and unconditional cease-fire in the ongoing Middle East war. The protestors condemned Israel's disproportionate war against Lebanon and Palestine, the sanction given to Israel by US and UK governments, and also the silence of the Indian government on the issue. Some present said the Indian Parliament must pass a resolution condemning the war just as th previous NDA government had passed a similar resolution with regard to Iraq war. Others criticised the Manmohan Singh government for permitting the US to influence Indian foreign policy, which they held was responsbile for India's failure to speak up in international fora on behalf of the hapless Lebanese and Palestinian people.

As the Delhi Police did not permit the protestors to stage their dharna outside the Israeli Embassy itself, the protestors occupied the traffic island at the intersection of Shahjahan Road and India Gate Outer Circle. Slogans were raised against Israel, the US, the UK and the UPA government, and in support of Lebanon and Palestine. The protestors sang songs, performed jhankis and read poems of peace. The protest was followed by a march towards the Israeli Embassy. The police did not permit the dharna to proceed beyond the UPSC building on Shahjehan Road, but after pressure from the protestors, traffic was stopped on Shahjehan Road and the road was closed so that the protestors could conduct a meeting. The Nishant Natya Manch perfomed a jhanki caricaturing Israel, Tony Blair and Manmohan Singh as stooges of George Bush. A group of queer activists sang a song of peace. Shri Khursheed Anwar of the Aman Ekta Manch addressed the crowd. And the protest ended with all protestors lying on Shahjahan Road in silence to commemorate and grieve the war dead. Shouts of 'Salim, Salam, Shalom' brought the protest to a close.

The following petition signed by more than 250 concerned citizens was handed over to the US, UK and Israeli embassies by the protestors.

THE PETITION

CITIZENS PROTEST ISRAEL'S BRUTAL WAR AGAINST LEBANON AND GAZA

Even as we condemn all acts and forms of violence in the current crisis in the Middle East, irrespective of who commits them, we have watched with horror as Israel's disproportionate use of force against the citizens of Lebanon and Palestine has increased daily and with impunity in light of sanction for Israel from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Israel's aggression continues in open defiance of calls from the rest of the international community for an immediate cease-fire, and continues to take a heavy toll of innocent life.

Until today, the 5th of August, 900 Lebanese including 290 children had been killed and 9,00,000 Lebanese – one-third of the population – displaced in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah 24 days earlier. The number of Israeli dead in the conflict is 67, including 24 civilians, as Hezbollah continues to target Israel with rockets.

Despite this, on August 1, the European Union too provided implicit sanction to Israel's disproportionate actions by failing to call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Almost immediately, Israel launched a ground invasion in southern Lebanon, involving tens of thousands of troops.

We, the undersigned, condemn this brutal targeting of unarmed civilian populations and the systematic destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon and Gaza. We demand an immediate and unconditional cease-fire in Lebanon and in Gaza from all parties, and that the leaders of Israel, the US and the UK be tried for war crimes against the Lebanese and Palestinian people. We mourn the loss of innocent Lebanese, Palestinian and Israeli lives.

We urge groups and individuals to join in a citizen's protest against Israel's targeting of civilians which goes against all laws of war and ethics of combat.

In solidarity,

1. Aanchal Kapur, KRITI Research and Praxis
2. Aarti Sethi, editor
3. Aditya Nigam, political scientist & writer
4. Ahtushi Deshpande, travel writer
5. Ajay Bhardwaj, filmmaker
6. Aman Sethi, journalist
7. Amar Kanwar, filmmaker
8. Anand Vivek Taneja, researcher-writer
9. Aniruddha Shankar, concerned citizen
10. Anita Roy, editor
11. Anita Vasudev, writer
12. Annie Zaidi, journalist
13. Anubhav Gupta, writer
14. Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, writer
15. Aparna Sanyal
16. Apoorvanand, teacher and writer
17. Archana Dwivedi, Nirantar
18. Arka Mukhopadhyay, poet and theatre practitioner
19. Arti Sawhney
20. Ashok Vajpeyi, poet
21. Ashwin Aishwaria, artist
22. Ashwini Ailawadi, trainer
23. Bindu Menon, educator
24. Charu Soni, journalist
25. Colin Fernandes, journalist
26. Danish Husain, actor and writer
27. Devaki Khanna, student
28. Devika Prasad, human rights activist
29. Dipta Bhog, Nirantar
30. Farah Aziz, journalist
31. Farah Naqvi
32. Farida Khan, educationist
33. Gargi Sen, filmmaker
34. Gautam Bhan, activist
35. Gayatri Reddy, educator
36. George Kurian, filmmaker
37. Gita Hariharan, writer
38. Harjinder Singh Laltu, writer & scientist
39. Harpreet Anand
40. I.K. Shukla
41. I. Priya Thangarajah, student
42. Indira Pathak, activist
43. Jamaat e Islami Hind
44. Jaya Sharma, activist
45. Jeet Thayil, writer
46. Julia Dutta, journalist
47. Jyotsna Kumar,concerned citizen
48. Kanchana Natarajan, educator
49. Kaushiki Rao, concerned citizen
50. Kaveetaa Kaul writer/journalist
51. Keerti Jayaram, educationist, activist
52. Khadeeja Arif, researcher-writer
53. Khursheed Anwar, social activist
54. Kishore Kumar Singh, freelance consultant
55. Kunwar Narain, poet
56. Lesley A. Esteves, journalist
57. Madan Gopal Singh, film scholar & music composer
58. Madhu Mehra, human rights lawyer
59. Mario D'Penha, historian-activist
60. Maya Sharma, Parma
61. Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, writer & journalist
62. Meera Samson, researcher
63. Mini Krishnan, publisher and writer (Chennai)
64. Monica Mody, writer
65. Mujtaba Farooq
66. Mushirul Hassan, Prof, Historian
67. N.K. Afandi, Dr
68. Nalini Nayak, teacher
69. Nandini Sundar
70. Nandita Das
71. Narayani Gupta, consultant INTACH
72. Naveen. T.K., law researcher
73. Nazim Khan
74. Neelima Sharma, theatre activist
75. Niharika Gupta, editor Womens Collective
76. Nini, Nirantar
77. Nishant Natya Manch, New Delhi
78. Nivedita Menon, academic & activist
79. Om Gupta, playwright
80. Ponni Arasu, activist
81. Prabhash Joshi, journalist
82. Pranav Kumar Singh, lawyer
83. Preeti Bose, poet
84. Prism, New Delhi
85. Priyanka Mukherjee, social worker
86. Pulin Nayak, economist
87. Radhika Kolluru, lawyer
88. Rajneesh Saran, freelance writer
89. Rahul Roy
90. Rama Kant Agnihotri, Prof, linguist
91. Ranjan De, filmmaker
92. S. Vinita
93. Saba Dewan
94. Samit Basu, writer
95. Saba Naqvi Bhaumik, journalist
96. Sanjay Kak, filmmaker
97. Shabnam Hashmi, social activist
98. Shakti Bhatt, editor & writer
99. Shalini Joshi, Nirantar
100. Shamsul Islam, Dr, theatre activist
101. Shivam Vij, blogger-journalist
102. Shohini Ghosh, film scholar & filmmaker
103. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, media practitioner
104. Siddharth Narrain, journalist
105. Smarth Bali, Communications Specialist
106. Sridala Swamy, writer
107. Subasri Krishnan, filmmaker
108. Sudeep Sen, writer & editor
109. Sujit Ghosh, social activist
110. Sumit Baudh, lawyer
111. Sumit Roy, filmmaker
112. Sunil Gupta, photographer
113. Susan Bertolino, writer
114. Susan M Koshy, writer
115. Tabish Khair, writer
116. Teena Gill
117. Uma Iyer
118. Vaibhav Vats, student
119. Vineeta Bal, peace activist

--
Lesley A. Esteves
Associate Editor

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