ICYMI | #155

Biplab Basu RIP | Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital raided | 62 years of Cuban embargo

By Staff

Our weekly roundup of stories you may have missed.

Israel strikes Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital

Israel has launched an assault on Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City killing dozens. Over 80 Palestinians have been arrested, including Al Jazeera journalist Ismail al-Ghoul and his crew. 30,000 people, mostly displaced civilians, patients and medical staff, are currently trapped inside the hospital, with Israeli forces targetting those who attempt to flee.

As Israel threatens a ground invasion of Rafah, where the majority of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people are now sheltering, new reports show that 50% of the population of Gaza currently faces catastrophic hunger, as Israel continues to restrict aid deliveries, using hunger as “a weapon of war”.

Biplab Basu

Biplab Basu, lifelong activist and founding member of KOP (campaign for the victims of racist police violence), has sadly died aged 72. Born in Calcutta, India, Biplab lived in Berlin since 1979, becoming a key figure in antiracist activism and migration policy in the city through his work at KOP and ReachOut, a counselling centre for victims of right-wing, racist and anti-semitic violence. 

We met Biplab in 2022 to discuss racial profiling and the history of gentrification in Kreuzberg on the eve of the opening of Kottbusser Tor’s new police station – you can read that here. Our thoughts are with his family and those closest to him.

13 years of Syrian Revolution

13 years ago in March of 2011, the people of Syria took to the streets for mass demonstrations calling for democratic change and an end to the al-Assad dictatorship. This marked the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, which continues to be violently suppressed by the Russia and Iran-backed Assad regime, killing over 300.000 people and displacing another 12 million within and beyond Syria. Last weekend, Syrians and allies commemorated the sacrifices of the ongoing struggle for freedom. 

March in Berlin for Democratic Republic of Congo

In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, violence between the rebel group M23 and the Congolese armed forces has led to the mass displacement of 7 million people and a humanitarian crisis. In the city of Goma, healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by the number of wounded civilians.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of adults and children are forced to work under conditions described as “modern slavery” in the country’s cobalt and copper mines. The mining is driven by the Western market's demand for these minerals to keep tech industries afloat. Join a march in Berlin to protest these crimes against humanity on Saturday 23 March at 13:00 from Wilhelmstrasse 77.

Cuban embargo anniversary

14 March marked the 62nd anniversary of the US embargo on Cuba. In six decades, the blockade and sanctions have devastated the island economically and cost Cuba over 130 billion dollars. The embargo has led to enormous shortages of food, fuel, and medicine, affecting life in Cuba until today. On Sunday, Cubans in Santiago protested the recurring blackouts and the worsening food crisis. In November 2023, the UN General Assembly called on the US to lift the embargo for the 31st time, but the resolution was vetoed by the US and Israel. 

Ocean Viking migrant deaths

60 people died last week when a rubber boat carrying migrants across the Mediterranean became lost at sea. Rescue ship Ocean Viking, operated by humanitarian group SOS Méditerranée, was able to save 25 survivors. A new UN report shows that 2023 was the deadliest year for migrants since records began in 2013, and though the number of people crossing is far lower than it was a decade ago, the Mediterranean crossing continues to be the world’s most dangerous route, due in part to the intensifying criminalisation of rescue work.

Newroz/Nowruz celebrated this week

Newroz or Nowruz, the Persian and Kurdish New Year, is celebrated this week. More than a celebration, Newroz is also a day of resistance against the ongoing violence against the Kurdish people. Join us at the march in Berlin this Thursday at 19:30 to highlight the struggle for a free Kurdistan. On 22 March Spore Initiative hosts another Newroz event with live music and a fundraiser for Palestine and Kurdistan. 

Tegel Refugee Camp fire

Last week a fire broke out in a refugee camp on the site of Berlin’s former Tegel airport, destroying a 1000 square meter tent hall and leaving at least 300 refugees without a place to live. On Wednesday, Migrantifa is holding a discussion led by Kurdish activists who will report on the inhumane conditions that face the 4000+ people currently living in the Tegel camp. The discussion will be held at Rote Lilly in Neukölln and translated from Turkish to German.