‘Civil march for Aleppo’ leaves Berlin

Demonstrators attend the Civil March for Aleppo in Berlin on Dec. 26, 2016.(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Updated 28 December 2016

‘Civil march for Aleppo’ leaves Berlin

BERLIN: About 400 peace activists were marching Tuesday from the outskirts of Berlin toward the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo, heading down the refugee trail in reverse.
Organized by Polish journalist and blogger Anna Alboth, the “Civil March for Aleppo” aims to build political pressure to help civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict.
Carrying white flags and hiking backpacks and wearing outdoor gear against the cold and wet December weather, the marchers had on Monday left from the center of Berlin.
Alboth told Germany’s left-leaning Tageszeitung daily that only a core group of 30 activists planned to walk all the way, adding that she expected they may be blocked at the Turkish border.
“The true purpose of the march is that the civilians in Syria get access to humanitarian aid,” she said. “We are marching to build pressure.”
The starting point was the disused airfield of the Nazi-era Tempelhof airport, which during the Cold War became the hub for the Berlin airlift and now houses several thousands refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries.
The marchers plan to cover around 20 km a day and walk through the Czech Republic, Austria and several western Balkan countries to Turkey — and then on to Syria.
It is the route into Europe that was taken last year by more than a million people, many fleeing battlefields in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, with the majority ending up in the top EU economy Germany.
Several thousand people have pledged on Facebook they would join at least a section of the about 3,000-km trek bound for Syria’s second city, which is now squarely under the regime control.

Palestinian protests move to Haifa

Updated 1 min 48 sec ago

Palestinian protests move to Haifa

  • The 19 released had been protesting over the massacre that claimed the lives of dozens
  • The court in Haifa threw out police claims that protesters attacked officers

AMMAN: Nineteen Palestinian citizens of Israel were released on Monday after they were arrested during rare protests inside the country against the massacre in Gaza.

The protests in Haifa, the third largest city in Israel, which has a mixed Arab and Jewish population, started last week.

At a demonstration on Friday, witnesses said that police violently broke up the protesters, arresting 19 and breaking the leg of Jafar Farah, a prominent human rights researcher.

The protests were sparked by the killing of dozens of people in Gaza by Israeli forces last week. While Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank are common, it is much rarer for Palestinian citizens of Israel itself to come out and protest. Haifa has traditionally been held up as an example of peaceful coexistence.

Palestinian lawyers succeeded in getting the 19 arrested released early on Monday after marathon court sessions.

The court in Haifa threw out police claims that protesters attacked officers.

“We turned the courtroom into a space where police violence was exposed and rejected,” said Hassan Jabareen, a representative of the Adalah legal center for Arab rights.

Haifa sources told Arab News that the release of the protesters led to an increase in incidents of incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel, where many feel they are treated as second-class citizens.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, minister of internal security Gilad Erdan and the mayor of Haifa Yona Yaha all criticized the protests and the wider Arab population in Israel, calling them disloyal.

Johnny Mansour, historian and political science lecturer at Beit Beril University in Israel, said that the country’s leadership wanted to divert attention from their own problems and find a scapegoat.

“Now the Palestinian minority in Israel are the easiest target that they can attack,” he told Arab News.