Written by the The A-APRP Germany
Today we remember Afro-Palestinian freedom fighter Fatima Bernawi. Exactly one year ago, on November 3rd 2022, she passed away at the age of 83. We remember her legacy to recall our commitment to the Palestinian liberation struggle and in absolute condemnation of repeated and ongoing genocidal atrocities committed by the settler colonialist regime of Israel backed by their western allies. These same Zionist forces that assassinate Palestinians also train the police and military in Africa and around the world to repress dissent and to uphold racism and imperialist exploitation.
We condemn the repression against the Palestinian movement and express our unconditional solidarity with revolutionary forces such as Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, that are faced with repression by German imperialism, which is about to ban all activities of Samidoun. The truth is, that you cannot stop, ban or kill the determination of oppressed people to get free.
Palestine and oppressed people around the world will continue to rise, organize and fight until our lands and our people are totally liberated from imperialism, settler-colonialism and neo-colonialism. Through remembering Fatima Bernawi we highlight the long tradition of Palestinian resistance and the participation of women and people of African descent in armed struggle and prisoners’ movements in Palestine and worldwide.
Born in Jerusalem in 1939 to a Nigerian father and a Palestinian mother, Bernawi suffered as a child under forced displacement of the Nakba and together with her mother had to move to a refugee camp. At the young age of 9 she smuggled herself into Jerusalem to reunite with her father. In 1960 they lived in the African community of Jerusalem. Her father had been an active participant of the revolutionary movement and in defense of Palestine during the Nakba, and the young Fatima became an early member of the newly formed Fateh movement.
Fatima Bernawi worked as a nurse in Qalqilya during the 1967 occupation and saw firsthand the impacts of the Zionist onslaught on the West Bank of Palestine. Through those experiences, she was one of the first women to plan an armed operation in Palestine, the attempted suitcase bombing of a cinema screening of a film celebrating the occupation. She was seized by occupation forces and on 19 October 1967 became the first Palestinian woman political prisoner of the contemporary Palestinian revolution.
She was sentenced to 30 years in prison and stayed true to herself and to the commitment of liberating her homeland by all means from the river to the sea. Her sister, Enaam Bernawi, was jailed for one year alongside her. During Fatima Bernawi’s time in the occupation prisons, she was also jailed with fellow Palestinian woman freedom fighter Zakia Shammout, who was pregnant and gave birth in her prison cell with support of the trained nurse Bernawi.
In November 1977 she was released in a prisoner exchange forcing her into exile. During her time in Jordan and Lebanon, she participated in the Palestinian revolution as a member of social organizations. She later returned to Gaza in 1994 and lived with her husband, liberated prisoner Fawzi al-Nimr. Later they moved to Cairo, living there for the last several years before making their transition.
While Bernawi was the first Palestinian woman prisoner of the contemporary (post-1967) Palestinian revolution, she made always sure to remember fellow Palestinian women who had been jailed in the earlier two decades of occupation, including many women detained, held in forced labor camps and subjected to harsh violence by occupation soldiers during the Nakba.
In the spirit of Fatima Bernawi, all freedom fighters from Africa and its Diaspora:
Death to Imperialism! Death to Zionism!
Long live Palestine! Long live Africa!