Sara Mersha's blog
By Sara Mersha
April 23rd, 2013
On this Earth Day, I’m inspired to share a story of the Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC). One of Grassroots International’s US allies, BMWC organizes in indigenous communities, going up against powerful corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry, and engaging in movement building toward a vision for a transition to an economically and ecologically just society.
For 37 years, March 30 has been celebrated as Palestinian Land Day, a day of action for land rights. On this date in 1976, Palestinians inside Israel mobilized to protest Israel’s plans to take 2,000 hectares of land from Palestinian communities in Galilee. Six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces, and hundreds more were injured and arrested. Though the repression was severe, people around world celebrate this date as an important moment in history, bringing Palestinians together in a common struggle for their rights to land wherever they live.
Israeli government repression of Palestinian human rights groups continues with arrest of Stop the Wall Youth Coordinator, Hassan Karajah.
At 2:30 in the morning of January 23, 2013, the Israeli military raided the home of Hassan Karajah, Youth Coordinator of Grassroots International partner, Stop the Wall Campaign, in the West Bank village of Safa, near Ramallah. In the video below, Hassan’s brother gives a firsthand account of how the soldiers entered the house by force, searched all the members of the family (including Hassan’s mother and younger sister), ransacked their belongings, and took away computers and files, before blindfolding and arresting Hassan, and taking him away.
January 28, 2013 was marked around the world as an International Day of Solidarity with Idle No More, a movement sparked in November 2012 by First Nations women in Canada, in resistance to legislative threats to indigenous sovereignty. One particular piece of legislation which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promoting, Bill C-45, would nullify provisions of provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act which since 1882 has mandated consultation and approval by First Nations for projects that could affect waterways on indigenous territories.
Four Years on from Operation Cast Lead: Worsening Impacts of Israeli Military Aggression on Community Agriculture in Gaza
Last week marked the 4th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s deadly 23-day military offensive launched in 2008, which resulted in the killing of 1,167 civilians and injury to 5,300 more in Gaza. It also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure in the already besieged Gaza Strip, which had been struggling under the Israeli blockade since 2007.
On May 1 of this year, my colleague Saulo Araujo (Program Coordinator for Latin America) and I spent the day with Rafael Alegría, a leader of the Vía Campesina based in Honduras. The video below offers some of his reflections.
Rafael’s message is clear:
Stop the Wall Youth add Vibrant Energy to a Tradition of Steadfastness in the Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination
On my last program visit to the Middle East, I had a chance to spend two days with Stop the Wall Campaign (a Grassroots International partner) staff and leaders throughout the West Bank. Through all of our conversations, two distinct but complementary themes arose – steadfastness and fierce determination from farmers who had been in the struggle for decades, and creative vibrant energy from youth who have recently taken on leadership in their local committees and in the broader movement.
As UN negotiators sat in their air conditioned rooms during the last official day of the United Nations climate negotiations, I had a chance to visit a community in Pateque, Mozambique. I spoke with members of the National Peasants Union (UNAC), a member organization of the Via Campesina. They described the ways they have been impacted by climate change: the summer is hotter than they can ever remember, and they showed me large tracts of empty land where the sun had burned many of their crops (including tomatoes and cucumbers).
Eight years ago this month, the International Court of Justice ruled in an advisory opinion that “the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law.” While neither the state of Israel nor the corporations like Elbit Systems Ltd., which profit from the wall, have heeded the advice of this ruling, Palestinian communities’ resistance continues to grow in both scale and creativity.