Monday, June 7, 2010

Rachel Corrie - a Tribute to her humanitarian efforts

The Star June 5 :
JERUSALEM: Israeli forces seized a Gaza-bound aid vessel without meeting resistance on Saturday, preventing it from breaking an Israeli maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory days after a similar effort turned bloody.

The ship MV Rachel Corrie was the last ship of the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Israeli-blockaded Gaza and was escorted to Ashdod Port in Israel.
6  Malaysians were  on board . They were  Parit Member of Parliament Mohd Nizar Zakaria, Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO) members Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal, Matthias Chang and Ahmad Faizal Azumu, as well as two members of the press, Halim Mohamed and Mohd Jufri Judin from TV3.

MV Rachel Corrie was named after Rachel Corrie,  a 23-year-old American peace activist of the International Solidarity Movement from Washington. She was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on 16 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.
The Israeli Defence Forces had claimed that the death was due to the restricted angle of view of the Caterpillar bulldozer driver, while ISM eyewitnesses said "there was nothing to obscure the driver's view.
Since her killing, an enormous amount of solidarity activities have been carried out in her name around the world.
Rachel’s journals and emails from her time in Palestine are available in a variety of forms. They have been published in books, turned into plays and dramatic readings, and used around the internet. Corrie has become, for many, a symbol of peace, with over 30 songs, a cantata, a play, and now a ship, named after her.

Video about the ship's capture :

Since young Rachel had been compassionate about helping the unfortunate. Even at the tender age of 10 years, she had expressed her desire and ambition to pursue humanitarian activities. This is what she'd said in 1990 at the Fifth Grade Press Conference on World Hunger :

I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.

In Jan 2003, Rachel move to Palestine and started emailing back her experiences and efforts at Palestine. The emails were very descriptive , moving and very passionately written about the sufferings of the Palestinians and the callous Israeli aggression.
All her emails can be read here :

Some excerpts from her emails :

- We are all born and someday we’ll all die. Most likely to some degree alone.What if our aloneness isn’t a tragedy? What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure – to experience the world as a dynamic presence – as a changeable, interactive thing?

- Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – 

- Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.  

- If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours – do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragments remained? I think about this especially when I see orchards and greenhouses and fruit trees destroyed – just years of care and cultivation. I think about you and how long it takes to make things grow and what a labour of love it is. I really think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves as best they could

- But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above – and a lot of other things – constitutes a somewhat gradual – often hidden, but nevertheless massive – removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context. The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon’s possible goals), can’t leave.

- I think I could see a Palestinian state or a democratic Israeli-Palestinian state within my lifetime. I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world. I think it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the US supports.

- I look forward to increasing numbers of middle-class privileged people like you and me becoming aware of the structures that support our privilege and beginning to support the work of those who aren’t privileged to dismantle those structures.

After her death, her parents started The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice which is a  non-profit organization that conducts and supports programs that foster connections between people, that build understanding, respect, and appreciation for differences, and that promote cooperation within and between local and global communities.


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