Book Workers for a Free Palestine held a vigil outside the London Book Fair.


Dan Sheehan

March 12, 2024, 2:47pm

Earlier this afternoon, hundreds of book workers from around the UK gathered in the rain outside the London Book Fair (one of the largest book publishing trade fairs in the world) to mourn and remember the 187 Palestinian writers, poets, journalists, and scholars killed by Israeli forces since October 7, and to demand a permanent ceasefire.

For an hour, as the rain poured down, speakers read out the names of the writers slain in Gaza—as well as a selection of poems and letters by Palestinian authors, both living and dead—and called upon their colleagues in the book world to speak out against the genocide.

Photographs, illustrations, and kites emblazoned with lines from Refaat Alareer’s farewell poem, “If I Must Die,” were laid underneath a Palestinian flag.

The vigil was organized by Book Workers for a Free Palestine, a coalition of 175 book workers from more than 15 different publishers and agencies, “who have come together out of horror at the genocide taking place today in Gaza to call for an immediate ceasefire.” The group is calling for a permanent ceasefire, a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, and a free Palestine.

In a press release sent ahead of the vigil, the organizers wrote the following:

London Book Fair is a key event in the international publishing calendar, and as such in the past has driven conversations around world events and their connection to language, freedom and more. In the extensive programme of seminars at London Book Fair, there are currently only two sessions mentioning Palestine—both organised by English PEN.

The vigil comes following widespread industry silence about the ongoing genocide in Gaza and multiple instances of censorship across publishing when it comes to Palestine. To date, more than 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces, with many more being killed as we speak by enforced starvation, dehydration, the bombing of all medical infrastructure, the blocking of aid to the region, and the recent decision taken by the UK and other nations to suspend further funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency.

We are inviting other book workers to call for a permanent, immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to offer vocal support for our Palestinian colleagues and creatives. It’s more important than ever that Palestinians have a space in which their stories can be heard, and where we as publishing workers can work for change and express our support without fear.

 

The group is asking that all supporters of Book Workers for a Free Palestine share and repost these graphics on social media.





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