Lest we forget

At a time when millions of people are taking to the streets, this small demo in Cyberjaya is hardly notable, but it is a significant sign 

A STREET demo is about to happen right outside my door, at the front gates of the Communications and Multimedia Commission office in Cyberjaya. 

It is 3pm, people are starting to assemble, but there are already plenty of police. The whole security from the adjacent shopping complex is out in force. At the moment they outnumber the demonstrators. 

The demonstrators are all in black and by the look of it, there will be many more joining them. 

It is all orderly and quiet. Participants said that’s because it is a quiet demonstration. No shouting or sloganeering is in the programme, the better to reflect that “Madani bisukan rakyat”, roughly translated to “Madani is muting the people”. 

At a time when millions of people are taking to the streets, this small demo in Cyberjaya is hardly notable, but it is a significant sign. 

Instead of shouting “down with Israel” or “free Palestine”, the monochrome crowd will gather quietly to protest “the silencing of free voices by the communications commission”, according to one person in a black T-shirt. 

A street demonstration against the government? Not the now normal protest against Israel’s genocide? This could be a sign that things are beginning to normalise here. The American-rinsed killing machine is still active in Gaza, but Palestine is not the only topic in town nowadays. 

“It’s not because we have given up on Gaza, never!” said one of the silent protesters. 

“But while waiting for a miracle to happen, maybe an earthquake right under Netanyahu’s bed or something, we carry on as best we can. We have our injustices too.” 

Quietly, this protester has said aloud the quiet part in the ongoing genocide of Palestinians. 

In a totally upside-down world, the US is sanctioning the World Court for issuing arrest warrants on Netanyahu; it found that no US weapons were used to kill innocent Palestinians; can’t make up its mind whether there’s a genocide going on or not and continue to replenish bombs to Israel despite already having dropped more munitions on that small land of Gaza than were expended in World War II. 

The military campaign Israel launched on Oct 7 has killed more than 40,000 Palestinians, though this only counted bodies that are intact and identified. Estimates go as high as 200,000 casualties. 75 % of Gaza’s population of about 2.3 million has been displaced. Israel has blocked all food and water to Gaza, which will kill through malnutrition and starvation, those who survived their bombings so far. 

These figures are astounding and it is beyond belief that the US, the main enabler, but by no means the only one, cannot even consider whether Israel has broken international laws. 

The only “reprimand” that Joe Biden has issued in seven months is to politely ask Israel to not kill too many civilians in their failing battle against Palestine freedom fighters. 

The US is also seemingly encouraging Israel to expand the current violence in Gaza into other countries, despite the danger to world security that scenario presents. 

It is easy for the rest of the world to get off the uphill struggle for justice on behalf of Palestine, that much we have seen. It is easy to stop boycotting, stop the marches, stop ostracising our favourite singers and actors. It is easy but we shouldn’t if we even have half an ounce of humanity. 

We remember the ICJ hearings, it did not stop the genocide. It was symbolic. 

No, it was symbolic and nothing more. 

The word justice and the Western institutions that are supposed to uphold it are not for all of the world, but a select few including Israel but also the US, Europe and vassals like Australia. 

The West promotes artificial justice. A show. 

A world court verdict is useless without the means to enforce it. Unfortunately, the bad guys don’t answer to words but they answer to the gun. 

We are also seeing that Palestinian freedom will not come by appealing to the moral sense of Israel, the oppressor, and its backers. 

Liberation is obtained through resistance which is the correct and appropriate response to oppression. 

What has been taken by force may only be regained by force, which if you look at it honestly, is not violence but justice. It is justice to recover what is stolen from you. 

It is justice to reject the oppression of your family. 

While the oppressor answers to the gun, it is people living in the rest of the world who can fight the bigger battle. 

The message is clear: It is not the noise of the armies but the depth of the voices that can shake the foundations of power. As the world watches, Gaza becomes more than a city; it becomes a symbol of the silent strength that fuels the fires of change. 

The road is long, but free Palestine. 

  • ZB Othman is an editor of The Malaysian Reserve. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition