Monday, February 9, 2009

40 Days After the Death of the First Child in the Gaza War, Beirut and 13 Other Cities Hold Vigils to Commemmorate Them

The Daily Star (Lebanon), February 9, 2009 - Hundreds of candles flickered on the seafront at Ramlet al-Baida on Sunday evening in commemoration of Gaza's fallen children. The vigil was one of 13 organized by Mothers Across the World for Gaza in cities across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and North America to mark the passage of 40 days since the first child was killed during the Israeli military's December-January offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The crowd of roughly 200 men, women, and children gathered on the small seaside walkway, most of them dressed at least partially in black, with many wearing the black and white keffiyehs that have become just as fashionable as they are representative of Palestine. Participants in the vigil held thin, white candles, each mounted on a brightly colored square of paper, with the name and age of a child killed in Gaza pinned to their chests. During the vigil, organizers passed megaphones to each participant, who read the name of the child and his or her age out loud for all to hear.

"The whole point is that these are not numbers, these are people with hopes, dreams, and lives that were brutally cut short" said Ramla Khalidi, one of the 10 organizers of Mothers Across the World for Gaza. "This is not just about those who died, but also about those who survived, and who continue to suffer on a daily basis."

For Joumane Barazi, this was the first vigil she has attended in Beirut "because it is not political ... because the right to live is not political. This is simply about the universality of the human right to life." As she held on to two candles, she added that "the flame is symbolic of the spirit, which doesn't die."

Other participants agreed that the message of the vigil differed from that of a protest in that it was a peaceful and apolitical way to express a humanitarian-based solidarity with Palestinians suffering under the current situation in Gaza....

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