The March 15 protests drew some 5000 people to Al Manara Square, Ramallah. Inspired by the ongoing revolts in the Arab world and kicked-off by young activists, the youth organizers have defined their own calls for more participation: an end to the division between the political parties and general and inclusive elections to the Palestinian National Council of the PLO.
They went to the streets on March 15 determined to stay there until their voices were heard. They are rallying more support in other districts and have repeated their demands for elections in the PLO: the release of all political prisoners in Palestinian jails and an end to the division among the Palestinian political factions (for the full statement, see below).
Four days later, protests and sit-ins are still ongoing in several cities. Beyond Ramallah protests are being organized in Bethlehem, Tulkarem as well as Nablus. The youth gathered in the streets call on other districts and cities to join the mobilization and organize their own sit-ins. In Ramallah and Bethlehem the youth are organizing concerts and cultural events in outside in the protest squares in the evening hours.
On Al Manara Square among the protestors were a dozen youth on hunger strike, underlining the depth of their determination. After four days and a commitment by the PLO Central Committee and Abu Mazen to take concrete steps to end the division between the authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, the youth suspended their hunger strike to give the leadership time to follow through on their pledges.
The repression against the youth meted out by security forces in the West Bank and Gaza prefigures a long struggle for the Palestinian youth. In a stated on May 16 (see below), the youth gathered in Al Manara Square have detailed a list of abuses they have suffered at the hands of plainclothes officers of the Palestinian security services.
1) Photos on March 15 in Ramallah, see: https://stopthewall.org/photos/2508.shtml
2) For updates on Facebook and Twitter:
3) Press Release on the fifteenth of March, by the youth movement, 16 March 2011
Our primary goal is to end all forms of Zionist injustice and oppression, including the end of the occupation and the apartheid regime, in order to achieve true justice, and the return of all Palestinians. In order to achieve this goal, we call for the following:
1) Elections for the Palestinian National Council [of the Palestine Liberation Organization] which guarantees representation of all Palestinians regardless of their location, and ensures a change of the current election system and the mechanisms for decision-making and accountability.
2) Practical steps towards ending the divisions which has led to violence and repression; and to ensure freedom for all Palestinians. This would include the release of all political detainees in Palestinian prisons to be implemented under the control and supervision of the institutions of the Independent Commission for Human Rights.
3) An end to media incitement in all its forms, especially via the television channels and websites of the parties.
4) We announce the continuation of the sit-in on al-Manara Square and we invite the youth in the other regions to continue their sit-ins, and mobilizations with us in al-Manara. We call on the regions that did not start mobilizing yet, to announce(or âto Launch ongoing sit-ins, in their regionsâ ). We call on all Palestinians to stand in solidarity with the young people in the sit-ins throughout the regions.
Long live Palestine, free like its sons and daughters
Summary of significant aggression committed by security forces against Palestinian demonstrators on Manara Square during the night from March 15 to March 16:
1 â starting from seven o’clock in the evening, plainclothes officers of the Palestinian security services attacked demonstrators almost every half hour. Some of the plainclothes officers engaged the youth participating in the sit-in on Al Manara Square in fist fights, cursing them and pushing them in the middle of the crowd. This has lead to various cases of fainting.
2 – The agents of the security forces created many different problems in the area of the sit-in in order to disperse the protesters, prevent solidarity with them and to make it look as if they had not organized but were instead random groups without serious demands.
3 – The agents of the security services arrested two demonstrators: Fadi Qur’an, Omar [surname not identified]. After almost one hour of detention, Fadi Qur’an was released. It is still unclear whether Omar has been released or not.
4 â The security services have used tasers in their attacks on the demonstrators, where they have attacked one of the protestors who was protecting one of the female participants choking in the protest in the middle of a stampede. This has led to a twist in his back and he had to be treated by the medics.
5 – The agents of the security services detained two foreign journalists who were present to cover the protest and confiscated their cameras to prevent coverage of the events, stating that the only cameras allowed within the sit-in were the cameras of the security services.
Aware that the attacks of the security services against the protestors were designed to confuse and divert them, and to exhaust the youth movement and weaken its resolve, we therefore explain the following:
These attacks will only increase our resolve and determination to achieve our legitimate and serious demands, which is to hold elections for the Palestinian National Council that guarantees representation of all the Palestinians, wherever they are residing, and that ensures a change in the election system and the mechanisms of decision-making and accountability.
Accordingly, we affirm that we will continue the sit-in on al Manara Square and we call on Palestinian youth everywhere to take immediate action in order to ensure the achievement of these demands.
Note: We will send a daily summary of attacks against the protesters. Please, so not hesitate to contact us via mail.
Media Support Committee for national representation
Long live Palestine, free like its sons and daughters