We, cultural actors in Switzerland, have been deeply shocked by the massacre perpetrated by the Israeli army against the civilian population of Gaza. We have witnessed acts of colonial barbarism that breached international law and fundamental human rights, and left us feeling dazed and impotent.
We stand with the Palestinian artists who asked us to show our solidarity with the people of Gaza. Below is their call:
“We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.
As artists, the most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play, dream and imagine. The oppressive forces fear this weapon because as long as we are able to imagine another kind of reality, we have the power to pursue it – a free and just Palestine.
Israel is portraying the ongoing massacre in Gaza as a war between them and Hamas, as part of an obnoxious media campaign of turning the oppressed into the villains. This latest Israeli attack against Gaza is a crime that must be understood within the context of Israeli occupation and apartheid. For over six decades Palestinians have been systematically bereaved of their lands, their water and their freedom of movement. Settlements continue to be built, a wall is erected on occupied lands and Gaza has been under a suffocating blockade for over six years.” (Statement by Palestinian performing art organizations -July 17, 2014 http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news/36377)
We understand that for Palestinian artists, the artistic gesture and the struggle for freedom are one and the same. That is why we, as cultural actors, add our voices to the activists in Switzerland who stood up to express their outrage.
We call on the Federal Council
- to strongly condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians perpetrated by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, in violation of basic rules of humanitarian law;
- to condemn deliberate war crimes, such as the bombing of hospitals and The UNRWA schools;
- to activate the Geneva Conventions, including Convention IV concerning the protection of civilian persons in times of war, as Switzerland was explicitly requested to do by the State of Palestine as of July 9, 2014;
- to demand the lifting of the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, in place since 2007, which amounts to Israel locking the Palestinians in a open prison;
- to demand the dismantling of the Apartheid Wall and illegal settlements in the West Bank, in line with the now ten year old opinion of the International Court of Justice at The Hague;
- to suspend all military cooperation with Israel and to rescind the planned purchase of military drones manufactured in Israel.
Together we can show Palestinian people effective solidarity by redrawing the relation between our country and Israel.
Committee of Swiss Artists standing in solidarity with Gaza, Switzerland, August 2014
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