All civilian lives matter
Dear Prime Minister:
Further to our unanswered hand-delivered letter to your Office dated the 29thday of August 2023, asking that Barbados recognises the State of Palestine.
Barbados since its independence has prided itself on a foreign policy skillfully articulated by the Right Excellent Errol Barrow as “friends of all and satellites of none”. This philosophy has successfully guided our engagements with other sovereign nations around the world.
It is a principle that your administration re-emphasised since 2018 when it chose to expand Barbados’ ties beyond our traditional partners in North America and Europe and made a thrust into having diplomatic relations with Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It is a development that we wholeheartedly support and applaud.
In your recent meeting with Israel’s non- resident Ambassador to Barbados you spoke to Barbados’ long shared special relationship with Israel. You also mentioned that capacity for smallness and resilience is a challenge which Israel has mastered.
Our Association, “Caribbean Against Apartheid in Palestine”, has for several years advocated for the Barbados Government to officially recognise the Palestinian State. We are at a loss as to why Barbados refuses to do so while eleven out of the fifteen CARICOM member states have recognised the State of Palestine, have engaged with the Palestinian people in areas of development and cooperation, and stood by them in the face of the aggressive, brutal, and violent apartheid policies of the Israeli state.
Prime Minister, you have consistently argued that Barbados, whose history has experienced and knows too well brutality due to the enslavement of our ancestors and colonialism, can never side with those who engage in similar acts of aggression and must always speak up against injustice and oppression.
Nelson Mandela, one of the most iconic figures in modern history when it comes to human rights and the fight for freedom and equality for all, and one you have rightfully emulated in your own life, recognised his lifelong fight in South Africa against the horrific apartheid regime of the time, and did not forget his support and fight for the liberation of all oppressed peoples around
the world – including those in Palestine. He said in 1997: “The United Nations took a strong stand against apartheid, and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system…but we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
He also said: “The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine…we can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face…yet we would be less than human if we did so…it behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice…”
We were in the vanguard of the struggle against South African apartheid. We ought to be in the vanguard against apartheid in Palestine. As you said at the recent public meeting with ex President Obasanjo of Nigeria, “solidarity and justice are what is required globally”.
Palestine and the Palestinian people have endured over seventy-five years of occupation and apartheid policies from the State of Israel. They too have mastered the challenge of size and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds and aggression. But today, they are facing the greatest threat of extinction, extermination, and degradation at the hands of the Israeli military aided and abetted by various Western Powers. The inherent right of the Palestinian people to live in peace, free from fear and humiliation, in their own land, is being disregarded.
We reiterate our call that Barbados joins its CARICOM brothers and sisters and do right by the people of Palestine and recognise their State. Accord them due honor and recognition as most countries around the world have done. Nothing less can be expected of our country that stubbornly stands on the side of justice, fairness, and freedom for all peoples.
If Barbados is incapable of according due recognition to the Palestinian State, then Barbados should not continue to accord recognition to the colonialist settler apartheid state of Israel, especially now that flagrant breaches of International Law are yet again being openly inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza by Israel. All civilian lives matter– whether it be on a slave ship; or in Soweto; or in Kiev; or the Kfar Aza Kibbutz; or in Gaza City.