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Reflections of the night: From Palestine to Maya Mopan

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 3:21 pm CST.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 2:41 p.m. CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Valentino Shal: Yesterday the world witnessed a grotesque display of inhumanity in Palestine. Unarmed Palestinians protesting 70 years of Israeli occupation were mowed down by the Israeli military. An 8-month old baby was also killed in the massacre.

Late last night I was asked to go see some people whom I was told were destitute and were sleeping under a tree. I went with some friends, and what I saw was both appalling and heartbreaking. I thought when I was told that people were sleeping under a tree, that it was just an exaggeration. It was not. The family were out in the open with all their earthly possessions, under a tree indeed.

I spoke to the man and his family. They told me that earlier in the day the Belmopan City Council and Police came and took their house down. Apparently, they were squatting and needed to move. The gentleman told me that he has been living on the land for 13 years, before the area was even surveyed. He said he had requested a piece of land but was denied. His house ended up in a parcel belonging to someone else. He said he was warned that he needed to move but he did not think they would actually put him out.

So there they were; the entire family, including small children. Having nowhere else to go, they were planning to sleep in the open, under a tree. One of the older sons is attending high school so he was worried about how he would continue to attend school.

There is no way we could leave people especially women and children to sleep out in the open like that . After some calling around, a pastor in the area willingly accepted to have them sleep in his church for the night.

The plight of the Palestinians and plight of the urban poor and landless are not so different. Both are a group of human beings, and with that should come our common concern and empathy. They both have their rights denied to them with callous disregard. They are both weak, dispossessed and continuously dismissed.

When will we learn to be human? We did not ask this family what is their religion or faith, their ethnic group, their citizenship status or social status. If we have any ounce of humanity in us, we are obliged to help each other as best as we can. We cannot show empathy for some because of their high status or class and have complete disregard for those we prefer not to see.

This is what I saw last night.



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