Belize Joins Global March for Peace in Palestine and the Middle East
In other news, Belize joined countries across the world today in marching for peace in Palestine and the Middle East. Over a hundred people took to the streets of Belize City and echoed a message of solidarity with the Palestine people. The event was organized by a group of former leaders and ended at Battlefield Park, where several speakers rallied against war and the murder of people on both sides of the conflict. Reporter Vejea Alvarez has that recap.
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Dozens of people from a wide range of societies marched through the streets of Belize City this morning demanding an end to the genocide that has gripped Palestine and calling for peace in the Middle East. Just after ten o’clock the crowd moved off from Memorial Park and began chanting in support of Palestinian people. Students, current and former politicians and the every day man and woman waved flags and placards hoping to send a message to the international community.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “We have said it as a government and we say it personally we condemn Hamas. Israel has a right to defend themselves but Israel does not have a right to commit genocide against the Palestinian people and it is important for Belizeans to understand we managed to get our independence based on the principle of self determination. We believe the Palestinian people should also be given that opportunity and that is why we are here in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to show the world that we should all stand up for injustice whenever injustice is being committed.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: For many Belizeans with Palestinian lineage like Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa the Israel Hamas conflict is a stark reminder of the suffering his ancestors fled and the need for an end to the palestinian apartheid.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “My grandfather came from Palestine when he was about sixteen years old and no doubt avoiding a serious system of apartheid that has engulfed Palestine for the last seventy five years, settler occupation, settler colonialism to the point of controlling every single aspect of your life he came to a free country called Belize and that for me means a lot but it doesn’t mean I must forget where my family came from and to stand up with the m for what they’re going through.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: As the crowds marched on the unity of Belizeans was evident. The march brought together supports from across the political divide and even former Prime Minister the Right Honorable Dean Barrow who echoed a message of peace and solidarity along with his former Cabinet colleague Anthony Boots Martinez.
Anthony Boots Martinez, Former Minister: “My main support is as a citizen. I think that it’s an injustice that is happening to the people of Palestine and I cry shame and I think all of us together must lend our support because we wouldn’t want anybody invade us. So I have to support this cause because I love people and I support people and we are in the same situation.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: While there was a noticeable lack of support from the religious groups that shunned the government’s stance on the war, several young activists added their voices to the call for a two state solution.
Activist: “Colonization is not new to us in Belize. We have been colonized before and we are not new to this like I said. I agree that everybody should be free and I feel bad for the people of Gaza and people in Palestine and I feel as if they should have a voice and Belizeans should help them and promote their voices because they can’t lift their voices up at this very moment.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Despite the government’s hard stance against Israel’s actions the minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Dr.Louis Zabaneh, insisted that the march was not against Israel but against the killing of innocent people on both sides.
Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State, Ministry of Education: “My own Christian brothers and sisters I’ve heard that some statements might be made that this is a march against Israel, against the principles of the bible and all these things when in fact that’s not the case. You have many people out here who are genuinely marching because we feel that what has occurred in Gaza is a travesty and we want to stand together to say that we want peace in the region.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Since the attack on Israel by Hamas in October thousands of Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been forced to flee their homes. Prime Minister John Briceno says that scenes of the massacre has brought tears to his eyes.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “It breaks my heart. I stopped watching it. I literally feel like the tears wanted to come out so I don’t watch the images anymore. I listen to the story, I read about it but when you see a man just screaming out in pain because he has his baby in his hand I mean how could that not touch you ? I mean I can’t see it and I can’t imagine the horror that the Palestinian people are going through.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: All in all while many believe that Belize’s small voice will fall on deaf ears PM Briceno says that the small step may lead to a huge leap in the fight for peace in the Middle East.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Any positive action you can take as small as it is has a positive effect and we in our own small way we believe that we need to stand for the Palestinian people.”