By Chisomo Phiri
A human rights group called Forum for Democracy and Rights Defenders (FDRD) on Wednesday November 15,2023 led a peaceful march in the Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre in solidarity with the victims of the war in Gaza between Israelis and Palestinians.
The march attended by thousands of people chatting ” Free!!! Free!!! Palestine!!!” started at Kamuzu Upper Stadium to Ginnery Corner Round about and then back to Kamuzu Upper Stadium where other important speeches were made.
Speaking to the protestors, FDRD Vice-Chairperson Asabun Phiri said they organized the march to show how they are concerned with the war which is claiming lives of innocent people a day.
Phiri said another aim of the march was to show the world that the war in Gaza is not a religious conflict as it is being speculated, but a human rights issue that needs a collective intervention of all people across the world.
He stressed that by organising the solidarity march, it does not mean the group is against Israel but feels that Palestinians are being oppressed as a result of the ongoing fighting.
“The people who are dying are not just Christians or Muslims. Everyone is dying and we are concerned. Even the set-up of our organisation has a representation of both Christians and Muslims so you can see that our concern goes beyond the religious lens,” he said.
Phiri said Malawi being a member of the United Nations, it is important for its citizens to have their voices heard on global issues so that the leadership is guided in the decisions it makes at that level.
He then hailed protestors for attending the peaceful march in large numbers.
Speaking to journalists, march’s organizing committee chairperson, Sheikh Muslim Abbas Vinjenje said they are concerned with what Israel is doing in Palestine which he said is against international peace laws and continued by calling all relevant organizations to stop Israel from “killing people”.
“The main message was to encourage all organizations, civil rights organizations, governments, as well as all people who have got power to change, to advise or to take part in ensuring peace in Palestine and take part in advising Israel to stop killing innocent people, more especially, women, children as well as elderly.
“This war has affected world peace because we have seen that Israel has committed crimes, which we call war crimes, genocide and the likes, which is against Geneva Convention as well as human rights chatters that protect civilians, children, women as well as elderly.
“So, you can see that, what Israel is doing right now in Palestine, more especially in Gaza, it is affecting all of these organizations as if it is not functioning and we are also noticing in the same scenario that the leaders of these organizations are working in a biased situation whereby Israel is not taken accountable for whatever it is doing to the Palestinian people,” said Vinjenje.
He added that their main expectation is for ceasefire in Palestine and that Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, should be taken to International Criminal Court to be investigated for war crimes and genocide.
‘Netanyahu and his army command, as well as the first minister have conducted genocide to the people of Gaza, to the people of Palestine. If this objective is not achieved, we will still go on the road, we will still demonstrate until Palestine becomes free,” he said.
The Israeli-Palestinian war,has led to most countries that have embassies in Israel to open them in its commercial capital of Tel Aviv.
The war has affected Gaza’s entire population of 2.3 million and Gaza health officials say more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict.