In Chile, which is home to the largest and oldest Palestinian community outside the Arab world, people of Palestinian origin and others usually observe Christmas celebrations in Santiago. President of the Republic, Gabriel Boric, who is well-known for his staunch support of the Palestinian cause has always participated in the lighting of the Christmas tree ceremony at the Palestinian Club.
This year, Christmas is unlike any other after the Palestinian community announced that they would not light the Christmas tree and that all festive activities will be cancelled due to the tragic situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to destruction and a genocidal war for the past 80 days.
Instead of the usual celebrations, President of the Palestinian Community of Chile, Maurice Khamis, along with thousands of Chileans, lit candles for Gaza at the headquarters of the community in Santiago. President Gabriel Boric joined them at the Palestinian memorial in honour of the thousands of children who have been murdered in Gaza. The ceremony was held under the title “From Chile to Bethlehem: a light of unity and hope.”
President of the Palestinian Community Maurice Khamis opened his speech during the event, thanking the president for attending: “Mr President, on behalf of millions of Palestine and Palestine, please do not forget to take with you the olive branch that we have never allowed to drop from our hands. You have already called for an end to this genocide; we hope all world leaders will work to stop these massacres against our people”.
“To our people here, I want to say that millions of Palestinians live under the Israeli occupation that will end one day, for sure. But this will happen when everyone raises their voice for Palestine loudly and works for defending human rights. It is a necessary duty”.
In an interview with MEMO, the President of the Palestinian Community Maurice Khamis told me that Christmas this year is different; we can’t celebrate while we are seeing these massacres against our people.
“The only thing we want from the international community, that watches silently, is freedom and an end to these massacres”, he added.
According to Maher Pichara, director of the Palestinian community in Chile, cancelling all celebrations is a human duty because many Palestinians are suffering in Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine. “We cannot celebrate when our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land suffer from massacres, hunger, and fear”, Pichara said.
“He told MEMO, “For more than 70 years, ethnic cleansing has been carried out in Palestine by Israel, by expelling the natives from their lands, demolishing their homes, and negating their Palestinian identity.”“We have here more than half a million Chileans whose origins and families belong to Palestine. We are one community and what our families suffer there, we feel it here.”
Pichara concluded saying that the presence of Gabriel Boric, President of Chile, reflected his commitment to the Palestinian cause.
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