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Balfour Declaration protested in various parts of globe

From Ramallah to Pretoria, rallies held to condemn British document that set the stage for the occupation of Palestine.

Palestinian high school students

Crowds in various parts of the world have protested the centenary of Britain's Balfour Declaration which promised a homeland for Jewish people and set off the occupation of Palestine.

Thousands gathered in Ramallah on Thursday, the administrative capital of Palestinian territories, to march to the British cultural centre there, according to the official Palestinian media.

A statement from the President Mahmoud Abbas' office called for an apology from Britain, recognition of Palestine and compensation for the Palestinian people both in political, moral and material terms.

Dozens others gathered in a separate protest in outside the British consulate in East Jerusalem.

A hundred thousand signatures and hundreds of sample letters from Palestinian high school students were presented to the British consulate in East Jerusalem, according to Sawsan Safadi, an official from the Palestinian ministry of education.

The letters express the students' feelings about the legacy of the declaration.


READ MORE: Palestinian students slam Balfour celebration to PM May


Khadiga Kahlaf, a 17-year-old Palestinian high school student from East Jerusalem, was among the protesters that carried the letters.

"We came here holding signatures of 100,000 students from the schools of Palestine protesting the Balfour promise" Kahlaf said.

"After 100 years, we the Palestinians have not taken our rights. We hope that they hear our voices as children."

Protesters chanted slogans such as "down with the Brits" and "Justice, power, freedom, our state is Palestinian."

"In addition to admitting its mistake for the Balfour declaration, it must assume responsibility for the damages that befell the Palestinians as a result of the Balfour declaration and the policies that ensued," Zakaria Odeh, a 64-year-old protester said.

Protest in Pretoria

In South Africa, hundreds of people gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria to protest against Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Protesters, dressed in characteristic red t-shirts, held placards that called for an end of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and a halt on the attacks on Gaza, danced and sang outside the heavily guarded embassy.

"Away with apartheid Israel, away," the crowd chanted.

Julius Malema, the leader of the spokesperson for the organiser Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF), urged the crowd to look beyond their own context and to consider the plight of the Palestinians. He also called for a one state solution, where Jews and Palestinians could live in peace.

Malema made an impassioned appeal to South Africans to stop working with Israel, even asking South Africans to stop traveling to the country in solidarity with Palestine.

"We asking all South Africans to stop doing business with Israel, to stop visiting Israel. We are returning the favour to the people of Palestine who stood with us," Malema said, to loud cheers.

"We call for the release of the Marwan Barghouti, who is in sitting in Israeli jail, in quite the same way that Nelson Mandela was in jail for all those years," Zaakirah Vadi, the communications officer for the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, an anti-apartheid organisation told the crowd.

Roads around the embassy were closed off, and police had closed off the entrance to the embassy.

Many South Africans see the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and policies carried out there similar to the apartheid, the institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination, carried out in their country by the with white minority until 1991.

In Ankara, the Turkish capital, dozens of members of the Anatolian Youth Association marked the centenary, a conservative organisation, chanting slogans and carrying placards.

At Sakarya University in northwest Turkey, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, an aid group, led protesters, including Palestinian student Zaid Maher.


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