Monday, September 26, 2011

The Irvine 11: Giving voice to the voiceless

The sentencing of the Irvine 11 demonstrates how voicing Palestinian solidarity is becoming more risky for activists.

Nora Barrows Friedman

"...The Irvine 11, as they have come to be known, acted in the finest tradition of civil rights leaders when they non-violently spoke out in opposition to Israeli policies during a speech delivered by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren in February 2010. Oren had come to UC Irvine as a guest of the university administration, on a speaking tour planned by the Israeli government to boost Israel's image in response to global criticism of its wanton attacks on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09, and the apartheid policies on the ground in occupied Palestine.

The sentencing followed a jury's decision to convict the students on two misdemeanour counts of "conspiracy to disrupt a public meeting" and "disruption of a public meeting" after weeks of aggressive courtroom theatrics by the District Attorney's prosecution team, which intended to criminalise the student's acts of dissent and protest....

In an increasingly cynical world, where Palestinians continue to lose so much and those who speak or act on their behalf face criminalisation, it should give us hope that these students have not traded their courage for fear. Instead, they have pledged to keep giving voice to those who have been silenced, and to inspire countless others to do the same."

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