While thousands are expected to make their way to what has been tipped as ‘one of the largest protest rallies’ in Cape Town since the fall of apartheid, a group of women plan to do a lot more than just march on Saturday. According to Ayesha Salie, about 500 women will be standing outside of Parliament, covered in red paint symbolising the blood of dead Palestinian women and children killed in the four week conflict in Gaza.
While some many not agree with their graphic form of protest, Salie felt it was a necessary statement to make. This group of feisty women are going as far as making fake limbs and a jelly-like substance to represent human body tissue, which will be scattered in the street.
In honour of Women’s Day on Saturday 9th August, which coincides with the March for Gaza, Salie came up with the idea to call on women from the community to show their support in a different way.
“We will be donning the national colours of Palestine along with red paint on our clothes and bodies to show the bloodshed of innocent Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military. For too long we have taken the approach of marching and chanting words of support for the people of Palestine. With this new approach, we are guaranteed to grab the attention of media and government in our attempts to raise awareness,” Salie said.
The women are planning to make their way directly to Parliament and stand arm in arm in front of its gates a half an hour earlier than the March for Gaza is scheduled to begin. Salie said the action is inspired by the march which thousands of South African women took to the Union Buildings to put pressure on the then-apartheid government in order to see the banning of the Pass laws.
“We want our government to stop talking about their hopes of peace between Israel and Palestine but rather, we want them to condemn Israel in the strongest sense and put an end to Zionism in South Africa,” Salie implored.
A number of marches in Cape Town have taken place over the past month, since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza but amongst those protesters, have been some who have taken a more bold approach.
During the protest action by the Islamic Unity Convention (IUC) on International Al Quds Day two weeks ago, some protesters made replicas of the dead Palestinian children in white cloth and carried it in front of Parliament. Some individuals were seen carrying makeshift Israeli rockets.
In the US, a protest was held in Minneapolis on Wednesday in which dozens of protesters were seen lying under red-stained sheets in a “die-in” simulating hundreds of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip.A similar protest was held on July 30 at Sin St. Paul which led to about a dozen arrests. Some of those protesters allegedly jumped on tables, unplugged phones, banged on windows and caused other disruptions.
Saturday’s march is anticipated to be one of the largest forms of protest action in Cape Town in recent years and is led by a collective of organisations called the National Coalition for Palestine. The demonstration kicks off from Keizergracht in District Six at 11am. Any form of Palestinian symbolism provides access to a free train to the CBD. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)