By Sukant Chandan
In central London on the evening of March 15th around 150 people met together to commemorate the life and struggle of Dr George Habash, founder of the Arab National Movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; a man who contributed more than most to the revolutionary struggles of a liberated Palestine and a free and united Arab Nation. Organised by the George Habash Memorial Committee (London) the meeting brought together people from many different backgrounds from all over England. It was especially significant that most of those attending were young people from mainly Palestinian, Arab and also Western backgrounds, whose political affiliations reflect the political spectrum of the Palestinian liberation movement.
In front of a backdrop of a massive Palestinian flag and next to a portrait of George Habash with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, Sukant Chandan opened up the meeting as Chair by welcoming the attendees and the guest speakers Dr Manuel Hassasian PLO representative to Britain, George Galloway MP, and Leila Khaled the legendary Palestinian revolutionary and central committee member of the PFLP.
All the speakers recounted the contribution of George Habash to the struggle. The speakers explained that Habash developed the Palestinian struggle through his and his movements Marxist-Leninist ideology, which came about as a result of the failure of the Arab states to contribute to the liberation of Palestine. Instead Habash and his comrades were inspired by the accomplishments of the major anti-colonial struggles at the time, especially the struggles of the Vietnamese and Cubans against imperialism and in the building of socialism. Dramatic and successful guerrilla operations were conducted by the PFLP to bring to the world’s attention the dispossession of the Palestinian people by the Zionist settler-colonial state of Israel and to highlight that the Palestinians were going to stop at nothing until their full national rights were won.
All the speakers also focused on the Palestinian struggle today, the main theme of the meeting in general was that unity is paramount amongst the different factions of the Palestinian struggle.
Lubna Furhat, one of the leading members of the George Habash Memorial Committee eloquently recited a poem in Arabic by pre-eminent Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish called ‘The Siege’ in Arabic, while the English translation was kindly recited by Louisa Maynard.
The meeting was especially honoured to have a video message from Leila Khaled, even more so as she has unjustly has been refused a visa to enter Britain since 2002.
The meeting was interspersed by patriotic songs courtesy of Faris Jabloun from Tunisia.
Those attending were inspired by the meeting to continue to study further the revolutionary role of George Habash and strengthen the solidarity movement with the Palestinian struggle.
The George Habash Memorial Committee will endeavour to hold at least one annual event in respect and remembrance of George Habash.
[note: Full transcripts of the contributions to the meeting will be published very soon and a DVD of the meeting will also be available for purchase soon]
[Manuel Hassasian, Sukant Chandan & George Galloway]