PRESS RELEASE: 10 November 2023: "Horror of daily news from a friend in a Palestinian refugee camp. Why a Manchester mother is marching for peace this weekend"
For more information: Dr Rhetta Moran 07776 264646 Kath Grant 07865 713474
"Horror of daily news from a friend in a Palestinian refugee camp...
"Why a Manchester mother is marching for peace this weekend"
This weekend, on Armistice Day, coachloads of people from Greater Manchester will be joining a huge demonstration in London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
As a human rights organisation, RAPAR supports this call and many of our members will be travelling to London on Saturday. See RAPAR's statement here.
Our members will be joining people from communities across Greater Manchester and the UK, many of whose lives have been personally touched by the Israeli government's war in Gaza.
One of them is Ann Wilson, a 63 year old mother and grandmother who lives in Manchester. She has worked for a faith-based international NGO, managing volunteers committed to social and global justice.
Ann first visited Palestine in 2015 on a Fairtrade trip. She has returned twice since then to learn more about life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Last year, she spent three months in East Jerusalem monitoring human rights.
In the UK, Ann has raised awareness of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza by joining bike rides highlighting violations of humanitarian law.
Last Sunday, Ann joined 100 others in a cycle ride in Alexandra Park to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, including her friend, a doctor who sends daily news about life in East Jerusalem's Shufat Refugee Camp.
She says that last Sunday, she came home from the cycle ride feeling "sustained and at one" with her fellow cyclists.
"I felt the importance of ‘sticking together’ and realised this was, in part, for fear of possibly being arrested if the home secretary deemed our activity to be a 'hate ride' along with the 'hate marches' taking place weekly.
"I observed no hate whatsoever, only a desire for a peace with justice for all in the Middle East.
"I am not a politician or an academic. I believe in human rights for all and I want my government and all governments to adhere to international law. Last year, I observed practices by the Israeli government indicating this is not the case, and it has not been the case since the occupation began in 1967."
Ann's news from her doctor friend at Shufat Refugee Camp has included scenes of distressed and injured children in Gaza that she finds hard to look at - including graphic images of an unlawful white phosphorous attack on Palestinians.
Her friend tells her the camp in East Jerusalem is raided on a daily basis.
He says the Israeli Defence Force uses rubber bullets, tear gas and skunk water, and so far have arrested 50 young people. Others have been shot. The doctor and his friends are attempting to visit the families of those detained.
"They are also attempting to ensure people have food parcels as food is increasingly difficult to obtain. The camp was closed for five days last year and raided nightly. My doctor friend told me this was the worse situation he had endured. I was puzzled as to why this was the case? He explained that he felt the soldiers had lost their humanity.
"This was shocking and disturbing for him to witness. I spoke to him today and did not ask him how he felt now…I could not bear to hear the answer."
Ann adds: "I am a person of faith and have respect for the faith of the Muslim and Jewish people I know.
"Faith, for me, is about justice and peace and the dignity of each human being.
"My Palestinian friends feel let down by governments. They tell me their hope is in the ordinary people holding governments to account.
"This is why I march, cycle, sign petitions. My actions are not borne out of hate but out of concern for my fellow human beings whatever faith they are or whether they have a faith or not."