Tamsila Tauqir, Vice-Chair UNISON branch of University of the West of England, at Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition march for a Ceasefire in Gaza, 4th November 2023 in Bristol, UK.

“Some years ago I went to the West Bank in Palestine. Everytime I waited in line at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank to get from one neighbourhood to the next there would be an Israeli security gun pointed at me. The gun would only lower when a line of Palestinian school children queued up and then it would point at them, coming or going to school. Presumably to expose to the youngest of children the power and control Israeli forces exert in that area. I believe, as did the Palestinians I spoke to, the only reason I had the gun pointed at me, was for the Israeli security to intimidate any foreigners not to return or witness and voice the daily terrorism that continues to be inflicted on the Palestinians since 1948.

So I stand today in solidarity with the Gazans and Palestinians on behalf of my local trade union branch at the University of the West of England UNISON. Knowing, all UNISON workers, of which there are over a million, have been encouraged by our national office to take part in actions like this. And, additionally, a solidarity statement from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), an umbrella body of 48 trade unions, including UNISON, has called for a ceasefire. The TUC has over 6 million individual worker members, that’s more members of all the main political parties in England put together. 

Not only in England, but SI Cobas union in Italy, the General Alliance of Trade Unions Poland, Belgian Transport Union and many more across the world stand with our Palestinian trade union comrades against occupation, colonialism and apartheid.

Since 7th October, the majority of Gazan workers outside the Gaza area have been arrested by Israeli security and publicly stripped and beaten. Many have just disappeared under Israeli police custody, their families and fellow workers don’t know where they are or if they’re alive.

All of us here in Bristol today and all the other cities taking action are the overwhelming voice for peace in the country. We will not be intimidated, we will not be silenced. Marvin Rees and any local politician in Bristol cannot block their ears to our shouts. As we cannot ignore the equivalent of a nuclear bomb effect from the multiple strikes on the civilians, including the children of Gaza.

Comrades, the Palestinian trade unions have called on the workers of the world to unite, as they’ve said, Palestinian justice and liberation is… a lever for the liberation of all dispossessed and exploited people of the world.’

La adl, la salaam, free free Palestine!”

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Tamsila Tauqir
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