We would like to draw your attention to this important new voice that has recently come out of Gaza. The Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO) is a group of young Gazans who have decided to speak out. To stand up for themselves, what they believe in and how they feel about the horrors they are experiencing in Gaza. They are a voice that has not yet been heard and needs to be supported!
With more than half of the 1.5 million Gazan population being under the age of 18 (Source: A generation trapped – Gaza’s youth in figures http://tiny.cc/ij0ju), it stands to reason that we NEED to listen to GYBO.
Listen to what they have to say! They are the future!
~Sofia Smith and beatsNOTbombs
Secular, Islamophobic, Dividing, Conspiratorial, Imaginary (?); we’ve been called by so many names, stopped counting and started crying. Both our supporters and those who swore to tear us down seem to have stopped at ONE thing in our manifesto: "Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNRWA. Fuck USA!". And no matter how hard we tried to explain on our Facebook page, in vain.
The previous manifesto seems to have grown bigger than expected; many supported us, many others stood firmly against us, and very few stayed indifferent. Everyone had an opinion, yet rarely did they listen to others’ and in the middle of that mess, our own voice remained unheard.
What about the rest? Let’s make things clear, starting with the Palestinian movements point. We were harsh, true. We were angry, and still are. The order in which the "parties" have been cited was not intended, and we are conscious that it brought much confusion in people’s minds. However, to those reproaching us – because we denounced the corruption of our political leaders – of insulting the thousands who voted for Hamas in 2006 (among which us), of insulting the memories of the martyrs of the Resistance groups affiliated to the different Palestinian factions who shed their blood for us in many occasions, starting with Operation Cast Lead, we want to reply don’t insult the Palestinian people’s right to criticize its politicians.
Cast Lead wasn’t a war; Cast Lead was a massacre, a slaughter, anything but a war. And during that massacre, we, people of Gaza, paid from our blood too. Every single Palestinian sacrificed something, someone, it affected us all, from the youngest to the oldest, not only the Resistance. Bombs didn’t make much difference. We never intended to reject the Resistance, and we’re going to repeat it again; we will NEVER reject those who fight for us, for our Palestine, and it was NOT the case in our previous manifesto.
Yes we voted for Hamas government. We all did. We were tired of Fatah government’s corruption, wanted a change and hoped Hamas would be that change. That PRECISELY gives us the right to shout our anger at them, because they are responsible of us, responsible of our well-being, our security. Fatah in the West Bank arrests Hamas affiliates, Hamas in Gaza arrests Fatah affiliates, while everywhere in Palestine you can find family members from different factions living united. Yes we denounce our politicians – note that words; POLITICIANS – because their mutual hatred divided them even during the commemoration of the first anniversary of Cast Lead massacre, while a crowd of Palestinians from all factions stood united by martyrdom, grief, and love for Palestine.
Whether you want to admit it or not, believe it or not, corruption exists, and it’s our right as Palestinians to denounce it, because we are tired of it. Internal change has not only internal parameters. Change will come only if people outside realize that they need to take into consideration the fact that corruption does exist, and that it needs to be stopped if we want unity back. So if it takes us to shout it to the world for our political leaders to hear us and care to unite for us, we’ll do it a hundred times.
No one helps us by asking from us to keep our mouths shut about our political issues. We’re accused of encouraging division because we dare point out the weakness of our political leaders. No one knows, apart from those who are INSIDE, how life is in Palestine because of these divisions. Trying to shut us up by saying "don’t criticize, keep your divisions "secret" and discrete" is most harmful! It just confirms our politicians that they can keep on doing it the way they do it, they will be supported by people who don’t know the theory lying in political programs. In other terms, criticizing Hamas political leaders – but the other factions’ political leaders AS WELL – is a way for us to say "if you keep it this way, all you will get is division, which is what Israel seeks". We ought to remind them of our martyrs and imprisoned, our ancients, those who gave birth and made those movements live. We ought to remind them that Cheikh Yaseen, Marwan Barghouti, and all the others deserve more than that. Who’s in the best position for such an honest shout out, if not their own children?
The question has been raised about our anonymity. We can understand that. What we don’t understand is that instead of listening to our call for patience and time, we’ve seen ourselves caught in a witch-hunt, as ridiculous as fetching for the slightest element to make us fall. Example?
Seriously?! Because we mentioned that the closure of the forum – which was one of the only centers for youths remaining in Gaza, one of the only places where young people could meet, learn foreign languages, use the internet, and enjoy things they don’t have at home to escape from the deadly routine in Gaza – was the straw that broke the camel’s back for youths who had nowhere else to go, people assumed that our "base" was that center and that we were funded by the CIA? Other people claim that it’s most suspicious that our manifesto created that much buzz, made its way to Western journals. Where is the "innocent until proven guilty" principle? We seem to be the first victims of our success."The founding base of this group [Sharek Youth Forum] was funded by the U.S.’s National Endowment for Democracy (which have done much to overturn democracy in many countries) is suspect. Allen Weinstein (one of the founders of NED) said "a lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA". Does that sound good anyone?"
We do exist, and if we don’t want to reveal our identity for the moment – for safety reasons – it’s our right. However, more proofs of our existence are to come in the next days, one brought by contributors of the Electronic Intifada:
What is our leitmotiv? Freedom. And for that, we know that we need the Palestinians and their leaders to unite against the Zionist Occupier. And that’s precisely why we call for action. Now. Not in 6 months, not in a year, not wait until another massacre strikes us. Now. We call on the Palestinians to unite and organize in an efficient movement of non violent protests, boycott. We call for divestment and sanctions against "Israel". We want our land back, we want our freedom of movement back, we want to be able to go abroad to have a chance, like other people of our age, to get education. We want to be able to exchange freely with the world, to have a future and be motivated to work for it. Enough fear, enough terror, enough misery, enough broken dreams, enough airstrikes, enough blockade, enough mourning, enough violation of every single human right we are supposed to have.Asa Winstanley : both Max Ajl and Jarid Malsin (non-mainstream western journalists and bloggers based in Gaza, both of whom I personally trust) reckon they are for real:
We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza and Palestine is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted. And if we fail, other groups will take our place, until our voice can’t be ignored anymore.
Previous version of the manifesto:
Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNRWA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, Fatah, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.
There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30th November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization (www.sharek.ps) with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.
We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.
History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!
We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!
We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!
We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.
If you want to help, here are some ways for now:We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly: freegazayouth[at]hotmail.comWe want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.FREE GAZA YOUTH!
- Promoting our manifesto by sharing it
- Sending an email to your friends asking them to join us in our different social accounts (Facebook, Twitter)
- Translating the manifesto to your language and sending it to us
- Sending the manifesto to journalists in your country
- Making organizations in your countries that are concerned with the Palestinian issue and/or youth rights know about our existence
- Posting links about violation of youth’s rights in Gaza on our wall
- Planning an event in your country about this issue and/or organizing for a skype conference, where we are able to talk with a group of youth, politicians or others outside Gaza
- Suggesting us ideas for reaching out to a greater number of people