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The World Social Forum Free Palestine began on Thursday in Porto Alegre, place of birth of the World Social Forum. Thursday marked an emblematic day for the Palestinian people, since 65 years ago (on November 29, 1947) the United Nations General Assembly declared the division of Palestine into an Arab State and a Jewish State. Since then, the advance of the Jewish State over the Arab State has been dramatic. It is estimated that the State of Israel has taken over nearly 80% of Arab territory. The United Nations declared November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Besides, it was precisely on Thursday that the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a “Nonmember observer State”.
World Social Forum Free Palestine began in this context, and with the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza in mind. The forum will include 125 activities, several conferences, demonstrations and cultural activities. The first main event was the Conference “International law, human rights and the trial of war criminals”, held at the campus of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul”.
The panel consisted of members of Brazilian organizations of solidarity with Palestine, the Brazilian ambassador to Palestine, Arnaldo Carrilho, the member of the National Palestine Organization, Nabil Shaath, and human rights activist, Sahar Francis.
The panel dealt with issues such as the human rights violations of Israel against the Palestinian people. The appropriation of common goods such as water and land, and the systematic war crimes committed by Israel were also mentioned. They exposed the fact that Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions on war, by using torture, killing civilians, carrying out summary executions, and other war crimes.
Sahar Francis is participating in the forum to raise awareness about and expose the situation of Palestinian political prisoners in Israel. She said that since 1967, (when the Six-Day War between the coalition of Arab countries and Israel took place) there have been 50,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including thousands of members of the peaceful civil resistance, who have no chance of defense.
To close her presentation, Francis suggested the participants to demand their governments to put an end to the Israeli occupation. Other proposals suggested were to carry out a campaign to try the direct responsible for war crimes committed by Israel and to strengthen the global boycott on Israeli products.
On Thursday there were several activities including a march under the slogan “Let’s end all Walls”.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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