The NZ Palestinian Solidarity Network called for a national day of action on 3rd of February 2018 to protest the arrest of the 16 year old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi and the detention and ill-treatment of all Palestinian child political prisoners. The Israeli state detains between 500 and 700 Palestinian children (aged between 12 and 17) each year. They are tried in military courts with a prosecution rate of almost one hundred percent. The vast majority are tried for the crime of throwing stones at heavily armed Israeli Occupation Forces and their military vehicles: a crime that is punishable, depending on circumstances, by up to ten or twenty years in prison. Around two thirds of children detained by the Israeli military have testified to being violently abused during their arrest and detention, and some have been threatened with sexual assault (UNICEF, 2013). Since the year 2000 more than 12,000 children have been detained, and the problem is becoming more acute. The Palestinian child prisoner population has doubled in the last three years (Addameer, 2018).
In response to a call from Wellington Palestine over a hundred people rallied in Cuba Street to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people. The rally was addressed by Nadia Abu-Shanab (Wellington Palestine), Kassie Hartendorp (Community Activist), Sam Huggard (Secretary, Council of Trade Unions), Shannon Pakura (President, Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers) and a representative of Peace Action Wellington. Speakers called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahed Tamimi (and other human rights defenders), an end to the occupation of Palestine and for boycott, divestment and sanctions actions against the Israeli apartheid state.
We Palestinians suffer from an incurable disease called “hope.” Hope for liberation and independence. Hope for a normal life where we shall be neither heroes nor victims. Hope to see our children go to school without danger. Hope for a pregnant woman to give birth to a living baby, in a hospital, and not to a dead child in front of a military control post. Hope that our poets will see the beauty of the colour red in roses, rather than in blood. Hope that this land will recover its original name: “land of hope and peace.” Thank you for carrying with us this banner of hope.