Ahed Tamimi addresses Coventry meeting “It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

Ahed Tamimi addresses Coventry meeting 

“It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

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Ahed Tamimi speaks to Coventry meeting

The following report was written by a Coventry Socialist Party who attended the meeting with Ahed Tamimi. An edited version appears in the current issue of The Socialist, the weekly Marxist newspaper of the Socialist Party.


“It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

These were the words of 17 year old Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military who rose to worldwide prominence as a symbol of resistance against oppression and occupation.  Ahed spoke via Skype to a recent enthusiastic meeting of Coventry Friends of Palestine, organised around the issue of the treatment of Palestinian child prisoners.

Horrendous treatment of children

Karen, a member of the National Education Union (NEU) in Coventry and regular visitor to Palestine, and Mahmoud, a Palestinian living in Coventry and member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, explained in detail the situation facing Palestinians with regard to how the occupying Israeli military treats children.

It was explained how between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted each year according to UNICEF. Reports have stated that ill treatment of prisoners is “widespread, systematic and institutionalised”.

Night time arrests

The whole process was described in graphic detail – 40 to 50 per cent of children are arrested between midnight and 5am, with the arrestees being blindfolded and tied. They are rarely informed of the reasons for their arrest with parents not being allowed to accompany their children when they are taken without warning by the military.

After arrest they are transferred which can take hours, often being kept at military bases in the West Bank, being denied access to food, water, toilets and other basic human rights.

Mahmoud reported how child prisoners are not informed of their rights, are denied access to legal counsel, suffer solitary confinement and are ‘encouraged’ to sign confessions written in Hebrew.

When in court it may be the first time they have had access to legal support or the first chance to see their parents since being arrested.

Long term effects

Punishments include prison terms, fines, suspended sentences, with 60 per cent transferred to prisons inside Israel – an act which is against the Geneva convention. The average fine is the equivalent of around £300, a huge sum of money for a people often denied the right to earn a living.

But it is not just the immediate effects of military detention, which include dropping out of school. There are long term psychological effects such as repressed memories, sleeping problems, bed wetting – no one let alone a child should have to suffer these things.

All of this needs to be put in to the context of the Occupation, it is not a separate issue but a direct consequence.

Ahed Tamimi – a symbol of resistance

Ahed began by saying that “The most difficult thing for a human to lose is their freedom”

She explained how she had suffered verbal and sexual harassment at the hands of the authorities in an effort to break her. Despite her formal education being interrupted by her arrest and detention, she had continued her education within prison with other Palestinian prisoners including arrested teachers, who organise regular classes for their comrades.

After a battle with Israeli authorities to be allowed out of the country, she and her family had spoken around Europe to large rallies to explain what is taking place and to help increase the solidarity movement.

Ahed went on to explain that in her view “It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

She urged the Coventry meeting to “keep up the solidarity and to put pressure on the government to end the occupation”.

The way children are treated is a direct result of the occupation and is a brutal consequence of this nightmare. As speakers pointed out, this is taking place in the context of the 1948 Nakba, with the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their land with now millions living outside historic Palestine in refugee camps.

Fight for socialism

Ahed, along with all Palestinians resisting the Occupation, are inspiration to millions around the world.

We need to build a mass movement of ordinary people here in the UK to show solidarity with the Palestinian masses – capitalist governments around the world, with the EU and United Nations, are part of the problem not the solution, only the solidarity of working class people can be relied upon.

The continuation of capitalism in the region means war, instability and oppression. We support the fight to build a revolutionary socialist movement across Israel-Palestine with our sister organisation the Socialist Struggle Movement, and the wider Middle East. Mass struggle can put an end to racism, insecurity and the nightmare of occupation. Socialism would guarantee the right to self-determination of all national groups, as part of a voluntary, socialist confederation of the Middle East.

If you are interested in discussing the ideas contained in this article, and want to find out more about the work of the Socialists in Israel-Palestine and the fight for revolutionary change across the Middle East, please fill in the form below.

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