The following article on the murderous impact of walls upon migrants was first posted by Stop the Wall in their Urgent Letter Nº 3.
FROM SAN ANTONIO TO PALESTINE, FROM MELILLA TO THE POLISH BORDER – UNITED FOR A WORLD WITHOUT WALLS
This is hell. It’s on fire.
Ghassan Kanafani, “Men in the Sun”
We are releasing this letter on July 8/9, two important dates within the Palestinian struggle. On July 8 we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the murder of Palestinian writer of resistance and the plight of refugees Ghassan Kanafani. July 9 marks the 18th anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice on Israel’s apartheid Wall.
Yet, this letter is not about remembrance, it is about the immediate need for action.
The last weeks have brought to light with chilling cruelty the extent to which horrific crimes and human tragedies are an integral part of the walls that the powerful nations and their élites are building to fortify their borders and to preserve their supremacy and privilege.
It is more urgent than ever that we build on our collective force to dismantle these walls, from Palestine to European borders, the US and beyond.
A world of walls
In San Antonio, 53 people were killed in a truck as they tried to enter the US. This is already the third of such terrible killings in Texas alone over the last 5 years. There is no wall in San Antonio but there is a wall and a no-entry policy with illegal push backs along the US-Mexico border. Donald Trump elevated Israel’s apartheid wall as a model for his own policies and claimed that ‘walls work’. They do, if the aim is to kill people and subjugate them to racist, exclusionary policies.
For Palestinians the news of the deaths in San Antonio is a stark reminder of their own reality, described by Ghasan Kanafani’s famous novel “Men in the Sun”. Palestinian refugees displaced, desperate but at the same time determined to build a better life die in a truck as they attempt to smuggle from Iraq to Kuweit. The driver later complains: “Why didn’t you bang on the sides of the tank? Why?”
It is the story and reality of those that are determined to risk all that is left to them for a better future. People across the globe are banging at the walls that keep them imprisoned, excluded, oppressed, segregated. It is the story and reality of a system of oppression that suffocates their voices and blames and criminalizes the oppressed.
Only 3 days earlier, at the wall that fences off the Spanish-controlled colonial enclave of Melilla, 37 migrants and refugees have been brutally murdered by Moroccan police and military forces, while Spanish police was supporting the crime launching teargas from the other side. They were part of many others who had organized themselves to climb together the colonial Wall of Melilla in order to make use of their right to seek asylum. Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, described the mass attempt at justice as a “violent assault” and “an attack on the territorial integrity of Spain”. Moroccan forces on their end rushed to cover up their crime by burying the dead in mass graves they tried to hide.
The Moroccan minister of interior, heading the police forces, and his Israeli counterpart had met only days before. The rampant normalization brings together regimes that share politics of walls and human rights violations and any further ties with Israeli apartheid will only export more expertise of repression to Morocco.
When in 2018 Palestinians organized in the “Great Return March” to peacefully protest the wall Israeli apartheid erected around Gaza in 1995 and the brutal siege it imposes on the occupied coastal strip since 15 years, Israeli forces shot at will. 189 Palestinians were killed, hundreds maimed and over 8000 injured.
Many have to abandon and escape their homes, Palestinians fight for their return to their homes. The brutality of supremacy, colonialism, racism and apartheid is killing all alike.
In the meanwhile, Poland has announced on June 30 the completion of a 5.5 meters high, 186 km long wall along its borders with Belarus. The $407 million budget project militarizes and seals the border where migrants are being degraded, criminalized and arbitrarily detained. This wall is symbolic for Europe’s racist migration policies: While (white) refugees from Ukraine are welcomed and supported as they should be, non-white refugees trying to cross the Polish border are met with a wall, violence and pushbacks.
This June has marked 20 years after Israel started the construction of its apartheid Wall in the West Bank. 20 years later, Israel is fortifying its Apartheid Wall as part of its escalated ethnic cleansing practices, land grab and violence. Palestinian workers who are being forced to sneak through open parts of the Apartheid Wall to reach their work are bearing the brunt of the Wall fortification. On July 5, Ahmad Harb Ayyad, a Palestinian worker was beaten to death by Israeli soldiers as he was trying to access his work place near the Wall in Tulkarm.
For a World without Walls
On July 9, it will be 18 years since the International Court of Justice declared this Wall illegal and demanded the governments across the globe and the United Nations hear the banging at the wall, end their aid and assistance to Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity and take effective action to stop it. Not only Israeli apartheid continues to build walls – Israeli ideology, methodology and technology of walls has been globalized. Today walls are growing and killing ever more people across the world, while Israeli as well as military, security and other corporations profit from the enormous budgets that states allocate for these monuments of injustice and exclusion.
July 8 2022 marks 50 years since Israeli intelligence agents assassinated Ghassan Khanafani aiming to silence one of Palestine’s most powerful voices. Today, refugees and migrants are still dying in the heat of trucks smuggling them across borders.
It is urgent that we unite, listen to the demands of the oppressed and “the others”, organize ourselves, raise our voices and redouble our efforts to overcome the systems of oppression that are ever more killing.
Together we can prevail.
Over the last 50 years we did overcome apartheid in South Africa, Latin American dictatorships have been overthrown and Indigenous leaders have won presidential elections. A second wave of progressive governments is coming to power in the subcontinent from where people are forced to leave to the US. Movements of black people and people of color have been able to bring the debate on structural racism to the mainstream. The call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, issued on the first anniversary of the ICJ decision July 9 2005, has effectively given birth to the Palestinian-led anti-apartheid movement.
Today it is crucial we stand together for a World without Walls and:
- For an end to the racist anti-migration policies and militarization of borders that criminalize and kill migrants.
- For an end to all military and security relations with Israel and its corporations that test their weapons and methods on Palestinians to then export them as battle-tested around the globe.
- For an end to the systems of structural racism and supremacy, including Israel’s 21st century version of settler colonialism enabled by a vicious system of apartheid and for a UN investigation into Israeli apartheid and the re-activation of the UN mechanisms to fight apartheid.
- For a truly democratic, just and ecological world.