Monday, April 23, 2007
Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Shot With Rubber Bullet by Israeli Military at Nonviolent Protest
Mairead Corrigan Maguire taken away after being shot with rubber bullets by Israeli soldiers.
With Amy Goodman
"AMY GOODMAN: Israeli forces have killed eight Palestinians over the past two days, including a seventeen-year-old girl and a Palestinian police officer. Meanwhile, Israeli troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a nonviolent protest against the separation wall near the West Bank village of Bilin. Several protesters were injured, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire. She was shot with a rubber bullet. She returned yesterday to Ireland, where she joins us now on the line. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mairead Maguire.
MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Good afternoon, Amy, and to all your listeners.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what happened?
MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes. I was invited with my friend to attend a nonviolent conference in Bilin, a village outside Ramallah, and to give a talk there, which I did. At the end of the conference, we were invited to participate in a nonviolent demonstration with some of the Palestinian members of parliament, including Dr. Barghouti, and Israeli peace activists and local villagers and international visitors from over several hundred countries so -- or several hundred international peace activists from over twenty countries.
We walked along to try to walk up toward the separation wall, and it was a totally nonviolent protest. And we were viciously attacked by the Israeli military. They threw gas canisters into the peace walkers, and they also fired rubber-covered steel bullets. As I tried to move back and helping a French lady, I was shot in the leg with a rubber-covered steel bullet, and the young Israeli soldier who shot me was only twenty meters from me. I was stunned by it, and then later on, after having some treatment by the ambulance medics, I went back down to the front line with the peace activists, and we were again showered with gas. I was overcome and had a severe nosebleed and had to be taken by stretcher to the ambulance and treated.
And I witnessed there a Palestinian woman, maybe around in her sixties, and an old Palestinian man with blood on his face. These were over twenty-five unarmed peace people who had been viciously attacked by the Israeli military. And it was a completely peaceful protest. It was absolutely unbelievable. I never in all my years of activism witnessed anything so vicious as from the Israeli military.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, who just came from the West Bank town of Bilin. Can you describe the wall there, the wall that you were protesting?
MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes, the wall is being built right through the village of Bilin, and the villagers’ land is being cut off. This wall is actually not so much a security wall, as it is really a wall that is taking in yet more of Palestinian land. The Palestinians have lost two-thirds of their land. When I was walking along that road, my interpreter from the press conference earlier in the day told me that he had owned ten acres of land on the other side of the wall, that the Israeli authorities had moved in, confiscated his land, uprooted his olive trees, which are 400 years old, and taken the olive trees to Jerusalem, and they were planted in Israeli settlements in Jerusalem.
So this is a wall, which is -- it is an apartheid wall. It’s dividing the people. But this is also by domination and control, which is what the word “apartheid” means. So, I mean, this kind of repression of the Palestinian people and the occupation which is going on -- now, the anniversary is June the 9th, when it’s forty years occupied -- this will not bring peace or security to Israel, which we all want to see. This will bring division and suffering, uninhibited. The international community needs to demand that the occupation end......"