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Letter to President Chakwera from Palestine Solidarity Movement

Summary:

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in January that Israel is plausibly committing a genocide in Gaza and ordered Israel to prevent any further genocidal acts, but its enforcement mechanisms are limited. Malawi, a signatory of the Genocide Convention, is urged to pressure Israel to comply with ICJ rulings. Israel’s actions, including war crimes and a six-decade long illegal occupation, warrant international condemnation. Malawi’s vote against holding Israel accountable for war crimes in the UN Human Rights Council and deepening its ties with Israel at this time contrasts with other nations’ actions and puts us at odds with global sentiment. Israel’s expansionist settler colonial actions, system of apartheid, and current extermination campaigns in Gaza and the West Bank, demand for Malawi to reconsider its ties with the current regime, including opening an embassy in Tel Aviv and entering into a Memorandum of Understanding. Aligning with Israel risks complicity in genocide and contradicts Malawi’s history of emerging from colonization. The letter advocates for severing ties with Israel, and supporting Palestinian rights, including recognition of the State of Palestine. 

Key Points:

– The ICJ ruled that Israel is plausibly committing a genocide in Gaza and ordered Israel cease committing genocidal acts. It has blatantly violated these orders.  

– Malawi is obliged as a signatory of the Genocide Convention to prevent Israel from committing the act of genocide. 

– Malawi stands in contrast with global sentiment that Israel must be held accountable for its violations of international law, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

– We ask why our government is seemingly rewarding the genocidal Israeli regime for its murder of over 34,000 Palestinians, most of whom are children, women and the elderly, by opening an embassy in Tel Aviv and entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with them.

– Aligning with Israel risks complicity in genocide and contradicts Malawi’s history of emerging from colonization.

– We urge our government to sever ties with apartheid Israel, and support the Palestinian people’s rights to liberty and statehood. 

Full Letter:

His Excellency Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera.

Office of the President, Lilongwe, 

Malawi. 

CC: The Malawi Minister of Foreign Affairs

CC: Speaker of the Malawi parliament

CC: The United Nations Development program 

CC: The High Commissioner of United Kingdom

CC: The High Commissioner of the United States of America  

CC: The High Commissioner of Germany

CC: The High Commissioner of Norway 

CC: The High Commissioner of Egypt

CC: The High Commissioner of South Africa 

CC: The High Commissioner of India.   

CC:  Ambassador of Ireland to Malawi

CC: The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHCR)

CC: The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) 

CC: Amnesty International

CC: UN Resident Coordinator’s Office 

CC: Media

April 29, 2024 

Your Excellency Dr. L. M. Chakwera,

It has been 3 months since the ICJ ruled that Israel is plausibly committing a genocide in Gaza and ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all genocidal acts within the scope of Article II of the Genocide Convention, and to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance. The ICJ’s rulings are legally binding, and so are the preliminary measures it imposes on parties to a case. However, as the passing of Resolution 2728 in the Security Council (demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for the month of Ramadan), which was also legally binding but was not implemented, demonstrated, The UN’s enforcement mechanisms are limited. Consequently, the focus of this letter is not Israel’s violation of its duties under the Genocide Convention or the orders imposed by the ICJ, which they have been in clear violation of since they were issued, but Malawi’s obligations as a signatory of the Genocide Convention to take measures to prevent and punish the crime of genocide, which Israel is on trial for committing, and its duties as a fully-fledged member of the United Nations to adhere to the ICJ’s rulings and pressure Israel to do the same. We must not wait for the genocide to be complete before punishing the perpetrators. 

Furthermore, The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution (Draft Resolution A/HRC/55/L.30) calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the besieged Gaza Strip and demanding a halt to all arms sales to the country. Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, and Belgium have complied with the latter part of the resolution and suspended arms sales to Israel. Malawi went against the consensus and voted against the motion.

Despite the unthinkable atrocities it has carried out across the besieged Gaza strip for almost 7 months, Israel has achieved none of its military objectives. Many experts believe that through their current tactic of waging a war of annihilation, they never will. Therefore, as Finland’s Foreign Minister stated, “the time for (Israel’s) self-defence is over”. 34,000+ civilians killed,15,000+ of them being children, is enough to warrant boycotts, sanctions, divestment, and the rejection of the State of Israel in all arenas – diplomatic, political, social, sporting, academic and economic. Therefore, we urge our leadership to push for Israel’s suspension from participating in all activities within the United Nations General Assembly. Israel, like South Africa and the former Yugoslavia before it, must be made a pariah state and sidelined from the world’s stage for as long as it upholds apartheid and until it has ceased its genocidal activities and the perpetrators of genocide within Israel have been duly tried and punished. 

As concerned citizens of Malawi we remind our leadership that Israel is not only in gross violation of international humanitarian law due to its collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population in the besieged Gaza strip – where 2.3 million civilians have been subjected to the most intense and indiscriminate bombing campaign since WWII; purposely starved and dehydrated; detained, stripped, transferred to detention camps within Israel and tortured; displaced and forced to live in squalor and disease; denied medical and other humanitarian aid – but also due to its 6 decade long illegal and belligerent occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, and the system of apartheid it imposes on Palestinians. 

Like their counterparts in Gaza, Palestinians in the West Bank have been facing an extermination campaign since October 7th 2023, both at the hands of the Israeli military and armed settler militias. Israel has arbitrarily arrested over 6,000 Palestinians, many of whom are in administrative detention; authorised the building of approximately 5,000 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; expelled entire villages and communities from their homes; carried out extrajudicial executions, including in a hospital in Jenin and against children; burned and destroyed civilian property and infrastructure on a mass scale; and murdered 486 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.   

The ICJ have affirmed that as a distinct national group Palestinians are protected under the Genocide Convention. Consequently, Palestine should be afforded full membership at the United Nations, with full voting powers, and not just hold an observer status within the UN General Assembly. Not only are the Palestinians a stateless people, but Israel is blatantly attempting to ethnically cleanse the Occupied Palestinian territories of Palestinians. Refugees comprise 67% of Gaza’s population. These people represent the ethnic cleansing of Palestine which began in 1948 and continues to this day. As do the 7 million Palestinian refugees worldwide who have a right to return to their homes and lands under Resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly. Most member states, 139 out of 193, already recognize the State of Palestine, Malawi included. Therefore, we urge our leadership to push for the State of Palestine to be recognized as a member of the United Nations, for the sovereignty of its territories to be respected, for violations of Palestinian human rights to be investigated, and for the right of return to be enacted.

Given Israel’s flagrant violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes, and occupation of Palestinian Territories, we urge our leadership to reconsider its ties with Israel. The recent deepening of relations, including opening an embassy in Tel Aviv, is alarming, especially amidst allegations of genocide. The establishment of an embassy is a privilege that Israel does not deserve at this time. We ask why our government is seemingly rewarding a regime for murdering over 34,000 people, 75% of whom are children, women, and the elderly, and starving hundreds of thousands more. Our actions provide diplomatic cover to Israel and as long as countries like Malawi continue to welcome cooperation with the colonial state, they effectively give Israel permission to continue its occupation, genocide, and apartheid. Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people has persisted for over seven decades with little to no consequences imposed on them. This impunity has bred contempt for the international community and all its forums within Israel, for which reason it scoffs at UN General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council resolutions today. The Malawi government has joined the leagues of those who are not only inactive against Israel but openly support its actions. Our current path risks aligning Malawi with genocide, and it is unthinkable that Malawi, which itself has emerged from a painful history of colonization, would openly support a settler colonial power such as Israel. Therefore, we strongly advocate for severing economic, political, and diplomatic ties with Israel and condemning its actions.

Yours Sincerely, 

Asabuni Phiri

Project Coordinator

Palestine Solidarity Movement, Malawi

+265 990 08 15 85

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