Friday, February 26, 2010

A Fight till Death

Sudah lama aku tidak menulis, kesihatan pon tidak berapa baik. Batuk dan batuk tidak reda-reda. Idea nak menulis pon sudah lama malap. Entah mengapa aku kurang pasti. Tapi aku ingin berkongsi cerita sebulan lepas, cerita perjuangan dan pengorbanan manusia.

Dialog ini antara aku dan Komrat Salah di Malaysian Socialist Research Institue (MSRI) di bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: He was only 13 when he first thought of liberating Palestine from Israeli occupation.

Now, six decades later, Salah al Salah has not lost his zest as a freedom fighter.

This 73-year-old political activist arrived here on Jan 18 from Beirut, Lebanon, to participate in a talk in Petaling Jaya on the Palestinian struggle and has since left on Jan 26. Here are excerpts from the interview.

The Malay Mail (MM): You were also one of the many Palestinians who sought refuge in Beirut. How was the situation then?

Salah al Salah (SS): It was 1948 when my family became refugees in Lebanon. I was 11 at the time. It was a disaster for us. Being a refugee was hard. Our camp had no infrastructure, no water and movement around the camp was limited.

There were so many children there, and until now, the number of people in the camp is increasing. During my time, there were 5,000 refugee camps, and now, there are up to 80,000. You can imagine how the situation never changes and it is getting worse. To tell you the truth, I never got back to Palestine since we were kicked out.

MM: What thoughts do you have about making a change in Palestine and what inspires you?

SS: When I was 13, my schoolmates and I were always talking about liberating Palestine and restoring justice there. One day, my mother came to me and said, 'If you want to be victorious, you should prepare yourself to fight and not to talk'. It was then that I realised the only way to liberate Palestine was just by fighting. At 16, I met a man name Saidad. He was a member of an Arab nationalist movement and I joined him because of their policies.

We had our military training in Syria and Egypt, and in 1967, there was a war with Israel. Some other Palestinian movements, such as Al-Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Arab Nationalist Movement, formed a resistance force.

This force was so strong that many of the Zionist projects failed. After the war, I joined the PFLP, where I was chairman of the Palestine National Council Returnees Committee.

MM: In 1993, an agreement was made in Oslo, Norway. The accords was a resolution of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. It was intended to be the one framework for future negotiations and relations between the Israeli government and Palestinians. Why did the PFLP reject the accord?

SS: From the beginning, the agreement was not helping the Palestinian people. Our people were left with nothing. It was an unfair accord and that is the main reason why we opposed the agreement. The Oslo agreement will never be successful and will only reach deadlock. The Israelis were using the accords to build more settlements for the Jews. Under the Oslo accord, our mission for an independent State was actually put on hold.

MM: How do you see the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank?

SS: The conditions there are getting worse day by day. From my father's period until now, the generation of my grandchildren, there have been so many resistance movements.

The first intifada (uprising) were against the Zionist and the British mandate, and from the start, we are fighting for our rights. We are not fighting the Jews because of their religion, as for thousand of years Muslims, Christians and Jews have been living peacefully. We are fighting the Zionist movement and the imperialist power to occupy our land. It is important for us to focus on the main enemy, which is the Zionist movement.

MM: So do you agree that the Arab League has not been helping the Palestinians in seeking a totally independent State?

SS: I would agree with that.The Arab regimes did not help us, instead, they were helping the Israelis. The Arab regimes in 1967 had pledged not to negotiate nor recognise the Israeli State. But now, they are the ones who are negotiating in recognising an Israeli State and I believe it happened because of pressure from the United States.

MM: How was the Malaysian support towards the Palestinian people and what would you like to say to all Malaysians out there?

SS: We used to be supported by many people and governments. Now, we are reaching a stage where many of our programmes are being blocked, and we need to be supported in many ways and needs. The Palestinian resistance is all about a national movement. Today, not just the Palestinian lands are occupied by the Zionist regime but also parts of Syria and Lebanon.

It starts with occupying Palestine and the Israelis are supported by the capitalist States, such as the Arab regimes themselves and the US. We need all of our friends from all over the world to realise this and to show us support. I believe many Malaysians are concerned about us.

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