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Caribbean Feminist Statement Against Israel’s Settler Colonial Project and Ongoing Genocide in Palestine

Feminists, women’s rights advocates, and civil society members across the Caribbean are aggrieved by the continued genocide in Palestine and the equivocation of many CARICOM Member States in response. We note with distress, disgust, and embarrassment the lack of a unified CARICOM position that plainly and unreservedly condemns Israel’s ongoing settler colonial project and racist genocide in Palestine.

We affirm the humanity and dignity of the Palestinian people and we rebuke the violence enacted against them, including bombardment, starvation, sexual violence, ethnic cleansing, and the intentional destruction of educational, cultural, healthcare, political, and religious institutions. More than 35,000 Palestinian people have been killed since October 7, 2023. Most of them are women and children. More than 80,000 Palestinian people have been injured. Over 8,000 Palestinian people are missing. Almost 2 million Palestinians are currently displaced in Gaza, and 1.1 million are facing catastrophic food insecurity.

While the cruelties of occupation violate everyone, those who are already vulnerable suffer disproportionately. We therefore call urgent attention to the heinous attacks on women and girls, and the deliberate deployment of gender-based violence as a tool of control, humiliation, and degradation.

Such gendered violence includes harassment; arbitrary detentions and confinements; vicious beatings; rape, multiple forms of sexual assault and the threat thereof; denial of access to menstrual care and hygiene products; being forced to carry pregnancies and give birth in unsanitary, dangerous, excruciating, and inhumane conditions; shouldering the responsibility for mothering and the gamut of care work in the midst of massacres, daily atrocities, and egregious violations of women’s and girls’ rights and dignities.

Additionally, we recognise the particular plights of Palestinians with disabilities, queer Palestinians, Afro-Palestinians, and any others who navigate multiple and intersecting vulnerabilities in this context of death, destruction, and despair.

With reverence for the life-sustaining connection between people and planet, and the planet’s inherent worth beyond human utilisation, we abhor the increased devastation of the natural environment in a time of climate crisis. We observe with horror the obliteration of flora and fauna; the intense pollution of the air, land, and water; and the widespread toxicity and contamination that will lead to further death and disease in Palestine. These effects will multiply and reverberate for countless years to come.

From the targeted killing of journalists and aid workers, to the massacre of children and babies, the destruction of hospitals, mosques, and public institutions, the ongoing siege of Gaza, the collective starvation and ethnic cleansing of an entire group of people, this must end. It must be stopped.

In line with the Human Rights Council resolution on the Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice, we demand the immediate halt of sales, funding and transport of arms, weapons and other key materials used by the state of Israel to enforce the siege and bombardment of Gaza and other parts of Palestine. There must be a permanent ceasefire.

There is no alternative.

All efforts must be made to ensure the immediate and full measure of essential aid, including food, medicine, shelter, and healthcare, reach the besieged Palestinian populations, particularly in areas like Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

We witness and denounce the ongoing complicity of nation states that openly support or refuse to challenge Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people, including issuing licences for arms sales, maintaining military partnerships with Israel, and criminalising those who are participating in Palestine solidarity actions. We call on CARICOM to end all diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties with the genocidal state of Israel in keeping with the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, recalling the success of the economic boycott of apartheid South Africa.

We reiterate the Human Rights Council resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination which “calls upon all States to ensure their obligations of non-recognition, non-aid or assistance with regard to the serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law by Israel.” We grieve the Nakba of 1948 and support Palestinians who reject the two-state solution. There can be no peace without justice.

As Palestinian feminists continue to remind us, the only real solution is decolonisation, liberation, and the Palestinian right of return. Many Palestinians, including those in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, are refugees whose right to return to their original homes is central to the Palestinian struggle.

We call on CARICOM to support the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel) case at the International Court of Justice for measures to be taken against genocidal actions by Israel. We remind CARICOM Heads of Government of international conventions they have ratified including the: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (Belem do Para), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

We draw the attention of CARICOM Heads of Government to the CEDAW General Recommendation 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict, and post-conflict situations, the Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the Statement by the CEDAW Committee on the 125th day of war in Gaza, all of which rest on principles that Caribbean leaders have pledged to uphold. Recognising that no country is free from the possibility of conflict, we call on CARICOM countries to each draft a National Action Plan on women, peace and security, focused on women’s participation and agency in preventing conflict and negotiating resolution.

In this vein, we also deplore the abject injustice, repression, and suppression in countries like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti, and insist that our leaders condemn the same. We assert the rights of the Haitian people to self-determination and to drive, be involved in, and have approval of any solutions purported to address their current situation.

We, Caribbean people, who have arisen from histories of genocide, enslavement, indentureship, and colonialism, remain firm and unwavering against all attempts at settler colonialism, apartheid, arbitrary arrests and detention, displacement and forced exile, confiscation of land and territories, sexual violence, and other human rights violations carried out by any State against any ethnic, racial, or geographic population. These images of violence are all too familiar.

Recalling the attempted annihilation of our Indigenous peoples, the chattel slavery endured by our African ancestors, and the indentured servitude suffered by our Indian ancestors, we must never remain silent as genocide, colonisation, and apartheid occur elsewhere.

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