Indians refuse to be complicit in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

From major apparel makers to tech workers to trade unions and farmers’ movements, people across India have refused to be complicit in the ongoing siege on Gaza, while opposition parties have extended their support to the Palestinian cause

October 24, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
A demonstration was held at the national capital, Delhi, organized by the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Peoples Democracy)

Last week, a globally known manufacturer in Kerala, Marian Apparels, announced it was suspending manufacturing orders for Israeli police. The announcement made on October 20, was in response to the manufacturers’ moral concerns about the killings of thousands of innocents and the targeting of healthcare centers in Palestine. 

“We have been making uniforms for the Israel police since 2015,” said Thomas Olickal, the director of the manufacturing unit, located in Kerala’s Kannur. “In the light of recent events, bombing of hospitals and loss of thousands of innocent lives, we have made a moral decision to not take any further orders to manufacture Israel police uniforms until peace has been restored.”

For the past eight years, Marian Apparels has been manufacturing uniforms for Israeli police, and other security agencies of the Philippine Army, Qatar Air Force, and British American security firms, among others. The company added that they will not accept any orders until peace is restored in the region.

In addition to the prominent garment manufacturer in Kannur, major trade union confederations including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) have shown solidarity with the struggle of Palestinians and called the bombings a crime against humanity. 

“We extend our full support to call by Palestinian trade unions to all workers of the world and their unions to unite and boycott manufacturing or loading of weapons and military equipment destined to Israel and its brutal war,” general secretary of AICCTU, Rajiv Dimri, said.

Similarly, peace advocates and anti-imperialists in India have also called for an end to Israeli occupation in Palestine. A demonstration was held at the national capital, Delhi, organized by the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) on October 14. Representatives from various sections of society, including workers, women, students, teachers, lawyers, youth, and farmers, actively participated in this demonstration.

While underlining the importance of standing in solidarity with Palestine and joining hands against Israel’s aggression, Nilotpal Basu, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), highlighted India’s history of standing with the Palestinian struggle.

“This is the legacy of our freedom struggle, where Mahatma Gandhi himself unequivocally expressed our position stating that Palestine belongs to Palestinians as much as France belongs to the French,” Basu reminded the demonstrators.

“We should carry forward this legacy and force the government to adhere to our unflinching support to the State of Palestine with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital and the rights of Palestinians to return to their homeland.”

Opposition parties show support

Opposition parties in India have also extended their solidarity to Palestine and condemned the ongoing Israeli violence against Palestinians. They have also harshly criticized the government of far-right Hindu nationalist leader Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under prime minister Narendra Modi, and argued that it does not want the voice of people to be heard.

Several senior leaders of the BJP, including Modi himself, have expressed support to Israel’s violent siege of Gaza and publicly labeled Palestinian resistance as “terrorists”, contradicting India’s officially stated position of support for the two-state solution and Palestinian self-determination.

In the meantime, on October 17, a multi-party delegation of 15 representatives from major opposition groups met the Palestinian ambassador in India, conveying to him that the people of India support peace and the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland. 

The delegation in their joint resolution maintained by “recognizing the Palestinian people have endured immeasurable suffering for over 75 years, we firmly assert that now is the time to end their plight.”

While expressing deep concern regarding the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people, the delegation added that they “strongly condemned the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinians in Gaza by Israel, which we believe amounts to an attempt at genocide.”

“The government is almost keeping quiet now and this amounts to endorsing Israel’s project of genocide—which is a huge departure in terms of foreign policy,” noted Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary of CPI (ML). 

The statement also called on the international community to recognize the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders in accordance with the UN resolutions. “Such recognition is a crucial step towards ensuring a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, providing the Palestinian people with the opportunity to determine their own destiny and live in peace and security,” the joint statement said.