Handala Visits Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Our flotilla had a peaceful cruise to Lisbon. Along the way, a sunset thrilled members of the Flotilla who were on the boat.

Months before, we tried to send several emails to book a port in Lisbon but until the last moment we arrived in Lisbon, our Flotilla did not have a port at which to dock. As we were passing through the 25 de Abril Bridge, our crew received confirmation that a private Marina had space for us to dock.

Due to the marina’s internal policies, we are unable to welcome people in front of the boat. The local support group came to Handala to welcome us.

The Freedom Flotilla was welcomed by the Portuguese Parliament. Fellipe Lopes, FFC Representative said: “The Portuguese government is refusing to recognize Palestine as a state. That’s barbaric. Recognizing Palestine as a State is the basis and the beginning of any political intervention. At the same time, members of the Portuguese government do not want to use the word ‘genocide’ because they consider this term is not correct to summarize what is happening in Gaza. How many more Palestinians will have to be murdered for the Portuguese government to recognize that this is a genocide against the Palestinian people?”

In the photo, from left to right: Marisa Matias (Bloco de Esquerda), Rana, Youssef, Fellipe, Rodrigo Saraiva (Iniciativa Liberal), Matilde Lima (Projecto Ruído), Carlos Almeida (MPPM), António Filipe (Partido Comunista Português), João Paulo Rebelo (partido Socialista), Rui Tavares (Livre) e Jorge Pinto (Livre).

Youssef Sammour, a Palestinian from New Zealand on board Handala, said: “Mixed feelings after the meeting held with 6 of the 9 parties that represent the parliament in Lisbon. There seems to be a very strong solidarity with the Palestinian cause here in Lisbon. The parties present advocated they will be pushing for a recognition of the state of Palestine. While this is a vital step, there needs to be more urgency placed on pressuring the Israeli government to cease its military bombardment of Gaza, which can only be described as a genocide that has lasted far too long. António Filipe from the communist party along with other parties showed a very strong commitment to this and their responses and conversations held afterwards were very encouraging. We leave Lisbon with hope for more action to be forthcoming out of Portugal.”

Alongside hundreds of people, Flotilla members waited for the start of the rally organised by support groups in Lisbon.

With resistance songs, civil society organizations attended the protest to show solidarity with the Palestinians and also the Flotilla.

“Sente no seu coração” (Feel in your heart) Rana Hamida said to the attendees at the rally in the city centre of Lisbon as she sang “Sawtuka ya sha’bi”, the Arabic version of Bella Ciao. “It is eminent that light will emerge after the dark times we are going through. As long as we stick together “

Youssef Sammour, a Palestinian from New Zealand onboard Handala, said: “Imagine how the children in Gaza must be feeling right now. It’s hotter there than it is here in Lisboa. No food, no clean water, no shelter. Six times the amount of bombs have been dropped on Gaza by weight than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Gaza is one-third the size of Hiroshima. Two million were displaced. The ‘leaders of the free world’ have failed them. The UN has failed them. The ICJ has failed them. So we, the people, must act.”

The Flotilla delegation visited the School “Sociedade A Voz do Operário” (Worker’s Voice Society). It was an opportunity to engage with the children in Lisbon as they were writing letter for the children of Gaza.

Mats Grorud a participant from Norway says: ‘’I am a father of three – and seeing the way children in Gaza and parents re struggling for survival, has been a continuous process of mourning and grief.. on a daily basis — seeing unbearable images of death… every single day for the last nine months… so to come today- to the children in Lisboa- to see their smiles, but also anxious faces.. when they talk about their drawings- and that they want peace and security for the children of Gaza and Palestine… and that they made drawings – that they thought they themselves would like to see- if they were in the situation of the children of Palestine… and that they want to send with Handala to Gaza… it was so moving to see the children act, as we should all do.”

⁨Aoife Ní Mhurchú, an irish member of the Flotilla said: “A heartfelt morning with children of the 141 year old Workers Party school Sociedade A Voz do Operário. Their empathic and sincere outlook and questions about Palestinian children and families had us close to tears, if not in tears. Their book of love and hopeful messages to the children of Palestine will be at home on the Handala until it can be delivered. The future is safe with these compassionate humans.”

We were invited to join an open conversation with members of the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers, where members of Flotilla discussed strategies, ideas and forms of actions to the Palestinian people.

Robert Suberi a participants from the US said: “Hasbara has become the official manual of our indoctrination and the calculated and deliberate cover for Israeli displacement of Palestinians. Explaining what we desperately wanted to believe. The Israeli government often provokes the Palestinians to elicit a reaction, in the case of Gaza October 7th it was a ‘gift from heaven.’ From the start Israeli government officials have made clear their intentions for a ‘final solution’ in Gaza. The sadistic targeting of children, healthcare workers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, educational institutions, hospitals, and artists are designed to destroy Palestinian existence.”

Juan Teixera, a participant from Galicia said: ‘I believe that it is very necessary to involve the entire civil society, as you well know, and meeting with the country’s majority union is something very important, so the meeting in government lines was very productive and necessary.”

“The Movement for the Rights of the Palestinian People and Peace in the Middle East” organized a meeting with organizations in solidarity with the cause of Palestine and Palestinians living in Lisbon. It was an informal but very important conversation, everyone shared experiences, ideas and the need for practical and supportive actions to the ethical, moral and humanitarian disaster that Israel continues to cause against the Palestinian people.

Lina Zdruli, an Albanian participant from Canada said: “It is important that we all bring back home the efforts we are doing on the Handala and together throughout the city-wide events, and transform it into political action in our home cities and countries. When I go back to Montréal, where I now live, I have already requested a meeting with my local member of Parliament to discuss the Flotilla’s mission specifically as well as state the need for an immediate ceasefire.”

Members of Flotilla, were invited to participate in the Pride Parade. It was a powerful event where several groups from the civil society attended to celebrate love and equality, but also, to their support for the Palestinian people.

Rana Haminda said: “I refuse to be groomed and reject these attempts to weaponise my gender and sexuality. Not agreeing with who I am , doesn’t make anyone less human nor less deserving of life I will continue to stand up for the right to freedom and self determination- just like I would do for any of you at any time. Stand up for Palestinian rights, as No pride in Genocide.”

Ángeles Cabría, a crew member from Spain added: “We have seen in social media the grotesque images of radiant Israeli soldiers holding the pride flag in Gaza over the massacred territory, showing the despicable tactics to transform violence against LGBTIQ people into weapons with colonial purposes. Colonialism is antiqueer. Israeli pinkwashing is colonial, racist and genocidal. The fight for LGBTIQ rights is the fight of the whole world for equality and human rights, it’s the fight of the Palestinian people.

Norka, a crew member from Norway said: “The Freedom Flotilla and its organisations around the world support lgbtqia+ rights. Do you know why? Because we want equality. Queer rights are about equality. Feminism is about equality. Freedom for Palestine is about equality. Equality and equal rights for all human beings. Freedom to be who we are, where we are and freedom of movement.”

As we were leaving, the local support group came to the port to wish a safe journey and to show their support. Muito obrigado.


Next stop: Caleta de Vélez in Málaga, Spain.