by Girard Mariano Lopez

Photo Credit: Girard Mariano Lopez

IN COMMEMORATION of this year’s Eid-al Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, dozens gathered at Taipei’s Grand Mosque to hold a candle-lighting ceremony honoring the more than 15.000 Palestinian children that have been murdered since Israel’s siege on Gaza began last October 2023.

The event, which was held last June 16th, was also a culminating activity to showcase a “Birds of Gaza” exhibit, which is part of a global campaign aimed to bring awareness to children killed by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip. Paper birds were hung along the mosque’s gate bearing names of martyred children, which were prepared by participants of a community event by Generation Now Asia titled “Birds of Solidarity” a month earlier at National Taiwan University.

Photo credit: Girard Mariano Lopez

The Birds Of Solidarity event also raised approximately 10,000 NT for Palestinian refugee students in Bandung, Indonesia in cooperation with Yayasan Ma’had Annujuum Arrobaniyyah, an Indonesian religious charity organization that also has offices in Gaza.

Julia Mariano, spokesperson of Migrante Taiwan, hosted and opened the event recounting the recent tragedies that have trifled the Palestinian people, especially the Nuseirat refugee camp massacre which saw at least 276 Palestinian civilians killed during an operation by the Israeli military aimed at rescuing Israeli hostages. However, Al-Qassam media claims three other Israeli hostages were also killed in the raid, which the Israeli Defense Force denies.

Photo credit: Girard Mariano Lopez

Soad, a Danish-Palestinian Nakba descendant and wife of a Gazan native, also spoke how the number of Palestinian civilians killed should not just be treated as a statistic as well as the animosity that Palestinian kids face daily robs them of their childhood.

“I cannot bear to witness the suffering of children in Gaza any longer,” Soad said. “In Gaza, childhood is not marked by laughter and play, but by fear and uncertainty…these children are not just numbers, but all have dreams and aspirations like any other child. Yet, their dreams are shattered by the harsh reality that has actually been going on for decades.”

Photo credit: Girard Mariano Lopez

A ten minute silence was observed as candles in the shape of a heart and colors of the Palestinian flag, stuffed animals, and flowers were laid in front of the mosque’s Birds for Gaza display. Various attendees also shared their own artistic performances, which included a group solidarity singing headed by Ibby Jingyi, a breakdance performance by Daniel Courteau in honor of Gaza’s Camp Breakerz crew, an impromptu song performance by Soad’s two sons of Samer’s “World Goes Blind”, as well as multi-denominational prayers and poetry readings by other participants.

This candle lighting event is only one of a series of Palestine solidarity events that have been organized in Taipei as Israel’s siege on Gaza enters its eighth month. While Taiwan’s government has donated 500,000 USD for humanitarian efforts in Gaza, politicians within the country’s ruling Democratic People’s Party are persistent about maintaining strong ties with Israel. However, more of Taiwan’s civil society are beginning to unite under the Taiwan Alliance for a Free Palestine, with over 50 civil organizations signing a broad call to the Taiwanese government last month to halt all arms sales to Israel and provide more humanitarian aid to Palestine.

Photo credit: Girard Mariano Lopez

A bigger Palestine solidarity march will be held this Sunday, June 23, 2024 at Liberty Square, in front of the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The parade will start at 1:30 pm until 4:30 pm where it will end at Zhongshan South Road.

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