Poetry to express solidarity on the Gaza conflict


By Terry Xu

Close to a hundred individuals turned up at Hong Lim Park last Sunday to show solidarity with the people caught in the conflict in Gaza.

The recent conflict was started via Israel’s military operation initiated on July 8  in response to the missile attacks by Hamas in Palestine.  The Gaza’s health ministry reported on Monday that 2,016 have been killed and 10,196 wounded since the start of the conflict while sixty-seven Israelis have been killed, majority being the majority soldiers.

The event, “Speak Love not Hurt”, had poetry recital by poets, writers and activists. Well known names such as Encik Mohammed Latiff Bin Mohamed, Ng Yi Sheng, Stephanie Dogfoot, Christine Chia, along with Cultural Medallion medalists Suratman Markasan and Isa Kamari, lent their voices behind the reading.

There was also a book reading session held at the other end of the park for children, and a candle light vigil was held at the end of the event.

The event was notable in its lack of the usual fiery speeches seen at Hong Lim Park. “I think having a poetry reading introduces a new dimension to how Speakers Corner is utilised,” said Mr Fadil Bin Fawzi, who organised the event. “There will always be space for oratory, but perhaps with this event, it can broaden and expand our understanding of activism and how it can be practised.”

In his speech during the event, Mr Fawzi said that people have to learn to show encompassing empathy rather than biased good will.

“It is easy to be outraged when something bad happens against your own “tribe” or “people”, but we have to learn to expand our range of empathy so that it encapsulates all of humanity, not just the people we share something with. Our solidarity should not discriminate based on colour or faith, but it should recognise a universal human identity.”

When asked about the turnout for the event, Mr Fawzi said that it was within expectations and it was nice to see friends from civil society as well as other new faces who came to support the event.

The organisers also circulated for signatories a letter addressed to the Singapore government, asking for Singapore to formally recognise the State of Palestine, give annual aid to Palestine and to leverage the country’s strong diplomatic and military ties with the United States, who is Israel’s most powerful supporter, in order to find a fair solution for all parties.

Members of the public who wish to read about the open letter or to pledge their names to the open letter can do so online at the document link set up by the organisers.

Video of recitals