Tower Hamlets school students walk out for Palestine

Hundreds of school students walked out of classes and poured through Tower Hamlets, east London, on Thursday to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Up to 400 took action after the vote in parliament the day before to reject a ceasefire. “We wanted to say how wrong it is for our MP Rushanara Ali not to support the ceasefire,” school student Zainab told Socialist Worker. 

“We have been talking about Palestine for weeks. Our schools encouraged us to support Ukraine when it was invaded and to wear the colours of Ukraine.

“When we wanted to do the same for Palestine it was not allowed. We can collect for Children in Need, but not for children being killed in Gaza. So we walked out today. The message spreads on our phones.” 

A group of parents joined the march to support the students’ campaign. Some of the students marched to the Town Hall where the mayor Lutfur Rahman came out to speak to them. He had a two-sided message.

“We want to see a ceasefire immediately. All human lives matter. Your cries, your sympathies I fully understand,” he said. But then he went on, “If I wasn’t a solicitor I wouldn’t have been mayor of this council. Education got me here, my teachers got me here.

“Yes, go to the marches, encourage your parents to go to the marches. Lobby your MPs who are not supporting a ceasefire. But please, please do not leave school and try not to miss classes.”

He then issued a statement that praised the students. But he said, “Staying in your classes and showing your opposition outside of school will prove the most powerful tool in the long-run.”

Zainab said, “If we don’t walk out then nobody listens to us, nobody notices us. We’re invisible unless we take some action.” 

School students plan action in several other boroughs on Friday in support of Palestine.

Meanwhile, over 200 people protested outside the offices of local Labour MP Rushanara Ali—who abstained in the ceasefire vote—in Bethnal Green in the evening. 

Protesters chanted, “One, two, three, four—Gaza broke through the prison wall. Five, six, seven, eight—Israel is a terror state.” 

The call from one speaker to expel the Israeli ambassador got a huge roar from the crowd. 

People plan another Palestine protest in the borough on Saturday, gathering at Altab Ali Park at 12noon. 

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