Talking to CPDS: Captain Derek on Captain Boycott
Captain Derek addressing the audience (Photo: Samah Migdad)
It is Ireland. It is the century long struggle for freedom. It is the struggle for civil rights. It is Bobby Sands and others. It is also Palestine. It is the struggle for self-determination. It is Khader Adnan and Hanaa Shalabi. It is the British Empire, both here and there. Much is already known about the parallels between Palestine and Ireland, but more must be said. The Gaza Centre for Political and Development Studies, (CPDS) aiming to educate more people in Palestine about the Irish struggle, hosted on Thursday Freedom Flotilla Captain Derek Graham, to talk about the Boycott, Ireland, Palestine and everything in between.
CPDS’s hall was crowded by Palestinian and International activists, people from here and from around the world who came to listen about this exciting topic. “Ireland has been occupied by many countries, including Britain which has occupied it for last seven centuries. Currently, six counties in Ireland are occupied and 26 counties are not. Back in 1847, we had a devastating famine. The population of Ireland at that time was approximately nine millions, dropping to three millions in 1849”, said the Irish captain.
Throughout history, media played an important role in exposing the crimes committed by the occupiers against the occupied people. Media control exists now in Palestine just as it existed in Ireland throughout its occupation.
Media Control: Britain and Israel
“Britain controlled the media in Ireland. The 1916 uprising is one of the most successful uprisings we had. Most of the leaders were executed. The foremost leader of the resistance and a highly accomplished freedom fighter, Michael Collins, was known throughout the country of Ireland, inspiring freedom fighters throughout the world including Che-Guevara. Successfully concealing his real identity from the British occupiers, he fought them from 1916 until 1922 when the British agreed to negotiate with him in Liverpool. In these negotiations, the British agreed to liberate 26 counties but demanded to continue the occupation of six counties, which caused a civil war in Ireland”, he added.
Beware of Civil War
One of the things that happened in Ireland and Palestine was the internal dispute, caused by the occupation. It’s one of the most dangerous things, because it puts the national movement in any occupied country at risk.
“An internal dispute is one of the most dangerous things: brother turns against brother, father against son, tearing the country apart. The civil war continued for two years. Of course, we didn’t get back the other six counties. They are still occupied”, continued Graham.
Detention & Striking
“In Palestine, we have administrative detention [used first during the British mandate of Palestine.] In Ireland, we had something called interment. If you walk down street, you would be arrested with no charge”, stated Derek.
Striking is one of the methods activists across the globe use to get their rights in the situations of injustice. It’s been used by Palestinians since the 60s. Bobby Sands passed away due to their hunger strike.
“After this man died, the issue started to get media coverage. At this stage, the movement grew very strong. People realized that those people are dying to get civil rights. The Sinn Féin and IRA nominated Bobby Sands, who won a landslide victory in the elections. He was very famous, because he died while being in the British Parliament. He went on hunger strike for 65 days the same as Khader Adnan”, noted the captain.
Captain Charles Boycott
“In the 1870s, in a small village in the west of Ireland, there were landlords who would rent the land given to them by the British Queen to the Irish. There were huge taxes. Some landlords were brutal in running up their lands. Captain Charles Boycott was the land agent of an absentee landlord. Boycott soon found himself isolated — his workers stopped working in the fields and stables, as well as in his house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver his mail. He was recognized as one of the most brutal employers. People refused to sell him food. They refused to buy his property. Finally, the punters [like settlers in the West Bank] were brought down. That’s where the word boycott comes from”, emphasized Derek.
Boycott has been successful in South Africa and is now being implemented against Israel. Many singers, artists, writers, figures and academics across the globe joined the BDS appeal to make Israel accountable and to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
“Boycott brought down the British Empire. Later on, it brought down the Apartheid regime in SA. It will bring down the Israeli regime. If you get people from countries around the world to boycott Israel, it will not survive. You have been told since this high [using hands] that Gaza strawberry is the best in the word. You have not tasted strawberry in other parts of the world. You have been told that the Israel goods are better than the Palestinian one. When you have choice between Palestinian and Israeli products, buy the Palestinian one. Get the Palestinian people in the Diaspora to start boycotting Israeli goods. The Israeli products are labelled in Ireland”, he stressed.
Forget about Gaza and the West Bank
“If you ask somebody, where are you from? He would say: Germany, Ireland or France. When you ask a Palestinian, he says Gaza, Ramallah or Jerusalem. You are much stronger when you say I am Palestinian. Don’t let Israel wins over you. When you are united [knocking the desk], you become stronger. Israel uses the same methods used by Britain: Divide and conquer”, he continued.
Arab Spring and Social Media
“If I came to this room two years ago and said Mubarak will go, some might say this is a crazy Irish man. But now you are in the Middle of the Arab Spring”, he concluded.
CPDS is a non-governmental organization aims to empower Palestinian youth and provide them with the necessary information that would help them better represent their people. The lecture is one in series held at CPDS since the beginning of the year 2012 in which global issues related to Palestine have been discussed.