Thousands march in Birmingham calling for Gaza ceasefire

Birmingham: Thousands of people have gathered in Birmingham to demand a ceasefire in Israel’s military bombardment of Gaza, which has killed just under 4,000 children in under a month.

As demonstrations continue to be held across the country, protesters marched through Birmingham city centre from noon on Sunday 5 November, before congregating for a mass rally in Chamberlain Square.

Protest co-organiser Abdul-Rahman said: “We’re here to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Palestine. It is very sad with what is happening in Gaza at the moment.

“The media aren’t covering certain issues, the politicians aren’t covering specific issues in Palestine so we’re here to raise awareness and talk about exactly what’s going on, in a peaceful manner as well.

“We want freedom for the Palestinians ultimately, it’s been going on for 78 years and we’ve just had enough. It’s simply just not enough to call for a ceasefire only, we want a free Palestine, we want the state of Gaza t be free as well and we want to make sure the people there are free and safe.”

Suzie Shaw’s children are Palestinian. She attended the protest march with her sister and her son after seeing images of Israeli bombing on the news.

“Watching what’s going on, we have family still out in Gaza, I have my best friends in Gaza and I can’t bear watching what I’m watching.”

On her reasons for marching, she hoped it would “bring clarity to make our government understand that actually we don’t agree with what they’re saying, we don’t agree with what they’re doing, and we voted them in so they should be listening to us.”

Suzie’s sister Becky Jones said she came along to “make a stand and say enough is enough.”

“It’s just been absolutely appalling the way in which so many civilians are dying; and I can’t bear watching the children because it’s all so very, very sad and it’s all so horrible and the violence is appalling. I’m here because I can’t sit still.

“This is the first demonstration I’ve ever been on but I feel this is so important. I need to be here today to make a stand.”

Tabassum Bibi said she joined the rally to “show solidarity for the people of Gaza” after seeing the plight of Palestinians online.

“The power of social media nowadays is much greater so there’s more awareness created around the situation in Palestine, in the West Bank, in Gaza.

“People are without electricity, food, aid; families are being ripped apart, their homes are being destroyed, and that’s why we’re all here – to show solidarity to those people.”

Salman Mirza travelled to the demonstration from Smethwick after lobbying his local MP to call for a ceasefire.

“What’s going on in Palestine is absolutely awful. We’re not just calling for a ceasefire, we’re saying that what Israel is doing are war crimes and the political class need to call it out for what it is.

“I saw my local MP John Spellar yesterday, he said it’s complicated and what we’re saying is there’s nothing complicated about murdering children, it just should not happen.”

Hamzah Hafesji took to the city streets with his young daughter in his arms to march with hundreds of others for peace.

“I’m here to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. We’re against the killings of all civilians lives, it’s an absolute catastrophe what’s happening within the region at the moment. I think it’s important that we come out here and show that we need t have a ceasefire.

“We’ve lost too many lives, too many families. I’ve got a daughter of my own and actually being a father, I can’t imagine what the parents are going through outside in that region.

“My message of peace is ‘we are with you, we are standing with you, we are applying pressure on our government to push for a ceasefire’. We want the people there to know that they might be feeling alone there but the global community is with you.”

Organised as part of national ongoing action, the protest march is the latest in a series of weekly rallies being held in Birmingham, co-ordinated by Stop the War Coalition, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and local anti-war and faith groups.

Ben Jamal, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign said :

“Israel has waged a cruel and relentless war on Gaza that has taken thousands of innocent, civilian lives by design. Its actions constitute war crimes and the support given to them by UK political leaders is shameful and appalling. This cannot continue. Like millions of people of conscience around the world we demand a ceasefire, the lifting of the siege, and immediate humanitarian help for the people of Gaza.

The root causes of the violence are Israel’s decades-long military occupation of Palestinian territories and its system of apartheid against Palestinians. We demand justice for the Palestinian people – their right to self-determination and to live in freedom, safety, and with full human rights.”

A spokesperson for Stop the War Coalition said:

“We have been organising weekly demonstrations to call for a ceasefire to end the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, which to date has killed over 9,000 Palestinians, including more than 3,700 children.

“Each of the demonstrations we have called have been peaceful and attended by hundreds of thousands of people and families from a diverse cross-section of British society. Those marching are united in their belief that violence should stop and that international law – which prohibits the targeting and killing of civilians – should be respected.”

Coaches have been arranged from multiple West Midlands locations to travel to London for the next national demonstration on Saturday 11 November.

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