The Electronic Intifada 27 January 2005
PORTO ALEGRE — Several Palestinian and Syrian NGO’s based in territories occupied by Israel will join thousands of civil society groups, organizations and people from around the world at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, calling for world leaders to commit to an end of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.
The platform, known as the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) believes the WSF is a unique platform where social movements, networks, NGOs, and individuals will come together to debate, analyse and formulate alternatives. This year the WSF will allow more space for civil society campaigns to present their demands and proposals and to discuss them with those being criticised.
They appeal to the participants of the WSF “to undertake urgent action and bring about a new era in which the indigenous people can return to their land and properties and are compensated for damages and suffering incurred, and in which all people in Palestine can freely exercise their basic individual and collective rights in the framework of one or two sovereign states in line with their choice.”
Palestinians living in the occupied territories and Syrians living in the occupied Golan do not enjoy basic protection by governments or the United Nations. Global civil society, grassroots movements and NGOs have thus remained their only ally.
The group calls upon participants at the WSF to focus on developing public information and campaigns that can effectively challenge Israeli propaganda, public boycotts, divestment and pressuring governments to impose sanctions on Israel. They would like to see local support networks for activists, journalists, teachers and politicians who are brave enough to speak out for Palestinian rights.
The coalition consists of the Alternative Tourism Group, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Defense for Children International/Palestine Section, The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine, Environmental Education Center, Golan for Development, Ibdaa Cultural Center, Jerusalem Center for Women, and the Palestinian Grass-roots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.
The first World Social Forum took place in 2001 and its meetings are deliberately scheduled to coincide with Davos. This year’s event is expected to draw at least 100,000 people from 119 countries.