Spirited Seattle action raises solidarity with Palestine and pays tribute to the world’s women

Photo: Saiyare Refaei.
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On the afternoon of Friday, March 8, International Working Women’s Day, 200 activists gathered on Capitol Hill representing a broad range of movements, organizations, genders, ages, political perspectives and countries of origin. Their united message was “Solidarity with Palestine and Global Liberation Struggles.”

A colorful banner by local Iranian artists Saiyare Refaei and Parmida Ziaei was displayed on the speakers’ platform at the AIDS Memorial Pathway Plaza. The banner was flanked by others from Gabriela Seattle, Radical Women, and International Women’s Alliance, who were among the 19 sponsoring groups. The MC, Donna Denina, from the International Women’s Alliance, gave special thanks to the Iranian group, Feminists for Jina, for initiating a community coalition to honor the day.

Opening the rally was a land acknowledgment by Sameena Sarwary, whose ancestry is from the Omaha Tribe and Afghanistan. She spoke of the shared experience of colonial violence and genocide that explains “why the solidarity between Palestinians and Native Americans runs deep and is unshakeable.”

Rosalie Fish, a track star from the Cowlitz Tribe and an activist in Indigenous Nations for Palestine, connected the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people to the experience of colonization and racism. She vowed that Native women “are far from defeat. We are the backbones to the champions of change…the sacred and fierce defenders of our sovereignty.” Her speech was followed by Millie Kennedy, of the Tsimshian Raven Clan, grassroots organizer for Indigenous Nations for Palestine, leading Indigenous women in the “Women’s Warrior Song,” the anthem of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women movement.

Zaytouna spoke for Falastiniyat, a Palestinian feminist organization, working at the “intersection of gender justice and anti-imperialism.” She described the particular ways that Israel’s war on Gaza includes gendered violence and the horror of people delivering babies under bombardment and without anesthetic. She envisioned a future “where Palestinians everywhere can live without fear of colonial violence.”

Zeinab, of Feminists for Jina, declared that “the struggle for women’s liberation is bound together with struggles against racism, state violence, war, and occupation,” that “Palestinian liberation is a feminist imperative” and that the need for united fronts “has never been more critical.”

Katie Comfort, U.S. coordinator of the International Women’s Alliance, spoke out for uniting to fight and win “a new system that guarantees our equality and safety.” Hannah Thompson-Garner, from the Northwest Animal Rights Network, called for “collective liberation that ends the exploitation of all beings, both humans and animals who are not human.”

Jackie Vaughn, the Executive Director of Surge Reproductive Justice, described how Black feminists “understand we cannot separate our movements” and called on movements to “protect and center Black trans women, Indigenous sovereignty, and solidarity with the Palestinian people.” Heat, with Resist US-Led War, drew the crowd’s attention to the U.S. military as an enforcer of imperialism and pointed to the role Boeing plays as a manufacturer of military weapons.

Christina López of Radical Women praised the leadership of young women of color, immigrant women and LGBTQI people in defending Palestine, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. Malali Popalzai of Afghanistan Women’s Political Participation Network spoke of the repression and dire conditions of women under Taliban rule and urged the world to come to their aid. Génesis of Capybara Colectiva pointed out a parallel between U.S. policies toward Palestine and the government’s opposition to democratic forces in El Salvador, Chile and elsewhere. Adriana Figueira, part of Comunidad Sin Fronteras, called for decent housing for migrants. Jessica Rojas, with International Migrants Alliance – Seattle, closed the program with a call for solidarity with Palestine and immigrants everywhere.

Cultural performances and information-sharing by different organizations rounded out the afternoon.

Following the program, as darkness fell, participants gathered their banners and took off for a spirited march with vigorous chants and drumming that roused support from bus drivers and passers-by. It was a fitting celebration of this holiday that honors the contributions of working women and was initiated by socialists in 1910 to recognize massive marches of immigrant textile workers.

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