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Filipino Activists join Asia-wide Vigils for Palestine

Activists and advocacy groups in the Philippines joined the Asia-wide candlelight vigils to reiterate the urgent call for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine as Israel intensifies its ground invasion of Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering from Israel’s months-long bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

“We vehemently condemn Israel’s massacre of civilians in Rafah and their defiance of the International Court of Justice’s order to immediately halt its military offensive,” says APMDD coordinator Lidy Nacpil in a statement to the media.

On May 26, two days after the International Court of Justice ordered an immediate halt to the assault on Rafah, Israel responded by bombing tents in a designated safe zone in west Rafah, where 50 burned bodies have been recovered.

“The bombing of tents in a designated humanitarian zone is only the latest example of Israel’s contempt for international law and human rights. APMDD stands in solidarity with Palestinians—and all peoples of the Global South—resisting oppression and colonialism. We call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation of Palestine,” Nacpil added.

Last Monday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The backlash is only expected to increase after this latest incident.

In the Philippines, around 200 from various advocacy groups gathered in front of the Commission on Human Rights to listen to the stories of Filipino-Palestinian refugees, who were evacuated from Gaza in November 2023 and are now living in Metro Manila.

Some refugees shared that they were forced to leave parents and siblings behind, and have since struggled to contact them as communication lines in Gaza have been destroyed.

During the vigil, a keffiyeh, the black and white checkered scarf that has come to be recognized worldwide as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, was draped over the statue of the late Filipino statesman Jose Diokno, founding chair of the Commission on Human Rights.

“We speak up in support of Palestine because we see their struggle as part of the wider struggle to end the exploitation and oppression of peoples in the Global South,” says Sanlakas president Manjette Lopez.

“Israel’s occupation of Palestine, with the financial backing of the Global North, is deeply familiar to those in countries grappling with histories of colonialism and whose people and resources have been—and continue to be—exploited by the Global North,” she added.

Meanwhile, the exchange of stories was followed by a candlelight vigil and a prayer for a genuine and lasting peace during the event.

The Asia-wide vigils on May 28, led by the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), were held on the same day that three European countries officially joined 140 other countries in recognizing an independent Palestinian state, the latest in a series of mounting international backlash against Israel.

The solidarity vigils were attended by APMDD’s member organizations and joined by many climate activists who have previously condemned the attacks and bombings of Gaza, which has been a disaster for the people of Palestine as well as the planet.

A study found that the first two months of Israel’s military activities emitted more greenhouse gasses than 20 climate-vulnerable nations produce in one year, an alarming statistic in a year of unprecedented global temperature records.

Photo by Jann Bonifacio

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