WSF in Karachi, Pakistan: Call for an anti-normalization movement grows across Asia
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WSF in Karachi, Pakistan: Call for an anti-normalization movement grows across Asia

The WSF of 2006 was held in three polycentric events, the first in Bamako, Mali, the second in Caracas, Venezuela, and the last one in Karachi, Pakistan. Palestine took centre stage at this year’s events and global discussions for another world. A delegation of 7 Palestinians participated in the third WSF event held in Karachi from the 24th to the 29th of March. Their arrival had been overshadowed by the Occupation barring 6 other delegates from leaving the West Bank, but a series of rousing meetings and speeches saw thousands of activists and campaigners unite for a Free Palestine.

***image2***The inaugural event held at the Karachi sports complex saw a series of speakers from across the world present their contributions to the global struggle.
Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, addressed the diverse crowd of 15,000 in the name of the Palestinian delegation. He illustrated the key events in the Palestinian tragedy and struggle, caused by the Zionist dream of Palestine without Palestinians, stating: “The Nakba of ’48 has been lived by our people over and over again until today. Now we are living a new Nakba that will enclose us in ghettos behind cement walls.”

He outlined how the Palestinian people are pressured to surrender to the new realities built on the ground through isolation on a global level. Juma’ noted how: “None of the international laws have been implemented nor will they be implemented, international organizations, above all World Bank, are helping the Occupation under the cover of ‘aid for Palestine’. Neither from the Arab world nor from any other government do we receive the support that is necessary and just. Even the Pakistani government is aiming to normalize its relations with the Occupation.” He accused the world of punishing the Palestinian people for their choice of resistance, against the corruption within the Authority and of the principles of their struggle. Yet, he vowed, “Palestinians won’t accept this. Palestine is not for sale, our people are not for sale!” The core demand in this speech and throughout the WSF, was a call for a strong movement to isolate Apartheid Israel and to counter any attempts to normalize relations with the Occupation.

The Palestinian delegation held a large tent at the centre of the WSF space with a photo exhibit and many different resource materials. An exhibit of the photos was presented with candles along the streets where the Forum was held. The Palestinian delegates were invited to speak at numerous events and held two organized sessions devoted to Palestine.

At the conference on “Fundamentalism: types, causes and effects”, the Palestinian delegate discussed the role of fundamentalist ideology – Zionism – had in creating and maintaining the Occupation of Palestinian lands, and the expulsion and ghettoization of the people. He highlighted how the root cause for the most dramatic forms of fundamentalism is imperialism. In the case of Zionism, the fundamentalist ideology and crimes are directly backed up from the West. “We need to hold Europe and the US directly responsible over today’s fundamentalist movements in the East.”

A session on the current realities on the ground and the political and economic situation in Palestine highlighted the current ghettoization of our people and the Zionist and international plans for the complete dependency of the Palestinian economy and life on their decisions. A second seminar on strategies for solidarity featured besides the Palestinian delegates, MP Jeremy Corbyn (UK) and Kamal Chenoy (India). The introductory speeches and the following discussion focused upon the best strategies and practices to implement the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel. Representatives from Pakistan and many Asian and European countries contributed to the discussion.

The 4 delegates from the Palestinian culture youth group “Dar Qandeel” participated at the cultural evening enjoyed by some 2000 people. The songs of Palestinian resistance brought the message of steadfastness and determination to the Pakistani people.

The interest of the media, TV and newspapers has been immense as news and testimonies from Palestine are rarely available. A special meeting with the media had been arranged to discuss possibilities of creating stronger ties with Palestine and Palestinian news sources. Other meetings were arranged with Pakistani political parties, the social science students from the Karachi University and the mayor of Karachi.

The WSF in Karachi has shown that it is time that Palestine is recognized as a key issue in the global movement for another world. It has further highlighted the potential of solidarity from South Asia. The enormous amount of spontaneous support and interest revealed fresh commitment and efforts on Palestinian and Asian groups to work side by side and reinvigorated the ties between them. Creating common strategies to back up the Palestinian struggle and isolate the Occupation made Karachi a great success in building a solidarity movement strong enough to counter the US-Israeli pressure and start to reverse normalization with the Occupation.