Famine Walk 2024: Speech by the Walk Leader Faten Sourani

Saturday, May 18th, 2024
Famine Walk 2024: Speech by Faten Sourani

‘Friends, supporters, and kind people who have come all the way here today to commemorate, learn, and act. I feel deeply honored to be among you.

As we gather to remember a time of great suffering in Ireland’s history, we also gather in solidarity and love for our people in Gaza, Palestine who are today enduring genocide and great atrocities at the hands of a settler-colonial regime—the same kind of regime that caused unimaginable loss, intentional starvation, and displacement of the Irish people.

The plight and shared history of the Irish and Palestinian people cannot be more intertwined than it is today. Today, we witness, on live streams, the same brutality and inhumanity that the Irish people once faced. In Gaza, it is us—it is me and you. Our fellow humans, with the same eyes, dreams, and ambitions, are being intentionally starved, killed, and tortured.

What is it like to witness the genocide and starvation of your own people in today’s world? It is a horrifying reality, a constant state of psychological torture. Since October 7th, 2023, my social media feed has turned into obituaries. Every morning, I wake up to the news of the deaths of friends, relatives, classmates, teachers, and kind neighbors. And how enraging it is that people in Gaza were already living in misery—poor, desperate, and under siege for 16 years. Despite this, they were trying with whatever they had to build a decent life. These kind and simple people had their lives taken away from them in the blink of an eye by the decision of this settler-colonial power.

Today, I remember 5-year-old Rahaf, my niece, killed on November 12th, 2023. My sister Hala lost her husband and little angel Rahaf to a sniper drone, an Artificial intelligence drone that scanned that little face and decided it’s time for the 5-year-old to be killed. My heart was torn apart when my seven-year-old niece, Hala’s surviving daughter, told me, “We left Dad sleeping on the pavement with blood, and Rahaf—we could see her brain.” This trauma is something no child, not my six-year-old niece nor the thousands of other Palestinian kids, should ever have to hear about, let alone witness with their own eyes.

On the 76th anniversary of Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, we see history repeating itself. The Nakba continues, and our struggle for freedom, justice, peace, and equality is far from over. From non-stop bombardment to intentional starvation and forced displacement, people in Gaza tell me that the misery we see from afar doesn’t reflect a quarter of the reality on the ground. Imagine not feeling safe for over six months, constantly living in fear, with a good chance of dying at any minute.

In the end of last month, I lost my dear father to forced starvation and the blocking of medical care in the north of Gaza. He was a great man, a kind father and grandfather who loved life, his people, and his land. He planted and cared for olive trees way more than I could count. Despite everything, he refused to leave his home until the last minute. Escaping death many times, he died heartbroken after burying his granddaughter. Starved, denied medical care, and scared, he passed away after enduring six months of genocide.

And starved… ‘starvation, not famine’ ‘famine is a lie.’ I heard this and nodded in strong agreement whenever someone mentioned An Gorta Mor. Yes, starved, with food intentionally blocked from them, with all the evil a human can muster, not allowed to survive or to feed their children. Just like the people of Doolough, who tragically took their death journey from here to search for food, death journeys happen today in Gaza.

Today, I remember Mohammed Reefi, a friend and talented photographer. Mohammed was shot dead on March 14th, 2024, while seeking a bag of flour. My friend’s life was taken for a bag of flour. How can this make any sense?

As genocide in Gaza continues, we must hold onto hope. Holding on to hope can be exhausting, but we have no other choice.

I plead with you all today to continue giving hope to the Palestinian people. Your unapologetic, mass solidarity is felt today in Gaza and throughout Palestine. Your honest actions, words, and feelings continue to give Palestinians hope in a world where we feel forgotten and forsaken. To be remembered and stood by in your darkest and most brutal moments is invaluable.

Now, it is the time to push for no dealings with Israel, to cut off all ties with the apartheid regime—no Israeli goods, no companies, no sports, no music or university ties. The regime’s total isolation, like that of South Africa’s former apartheid, is our path.

We tell the Irish government that words of condemnation are important but not enough in times of genocide. It is time for Ireland to act now on its legal responsibility to prevent genocide. The time is now to act with economic sanctions. Ireland can proudly lead on this, until we reach a day of international isolation of the apartheid Israel, and eventually, one day, a dismantlement of the apartheid entity.

We remember the Dunnes stores heros’ role in ending South Africa’s apartheid. And my dear Irish friends, you ended apartheid once, you can do it again.

Continue to talk about Palestine, and continue to disturb the aggressors, who wants us to only die in silence.

Organizers at Afri, thank you, and thanks to everyone involved and here today. Thank you, Joe Murray, for a life of dedication to advancing human rights worldwide.
Thanks to the brilliant Donal O’Kelly and Roisín El Cherif.

May justice and peace prevail in our lifetime for the Palestinian people and all oppressed people around the world.

Thank you.’

Faten Sourani is a lawyer and advocate for human rights and social justice, with a particular focus on the rights of the Palestinian people. Coming from the Gaza Strip, Faten has pursued her studies and professional endeavors in Galway and Dublin. Over the past few years, she has collaborated with dedicated individuals in the felds of international law, human rights research, and advocacy to amplify the voices of those affected by confict and oppression in the MENA region. Currently, she supports the work of the NGO Front Line Defenders by supporting human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Photo credit: Roger Whelan


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