For International Women’s Day: Honoring the Fighters

Against the Current, No. 193, March/April 2018

The Editors

IN RECOGNITION OF International Women’s Day, Against the Current takes the opportunity to honor some of the heroic women fighters of the present and recent past. Obviously this is only a small list that symbolizes much larger movements of resistance. We cite them here both for their own contributions and for the freedom struggles they represent.

Ahed Tamimi: The young Palestinian turned 17 in an Israeli prison, awaiting a March 11 trial date for slapping an IDF soldier — who had struck her first and invaded her home — hours after he or another IDF soldier shot her cousin in the face with a rubber bullet, at close range. Her cousin was very severely injured, though he has survived, after nearly dying. Two of her cousins have been shot to death; her brother’s arm has been broken by IDF soldiers; her mother, who’s in a different prison, has been shot in the leg; and her father has been repeatedly imprisoned. (On a previous occasion, Ahed intervened to prevent the arrest of her brother by biting the hand of the soldier who tried to snatch him.)

The Tamimi family and other people of Nabi Saleh, her village, continue to protest nonviolently every Friday, against a vast new settlement’s theft of their farmlands and fresh water supply. A slap in the face of a soldier who is armed to the teeth, by a young Palestinian woman armed only with her courage in defending her family, is hardly a serious act of violence. The soldier was uninjured. It is, in fact, a right under international law of every person whose land is unlawfully occupied and who seeks to end the occupation to rise violently against the occupier’s military forces.

Ahed will likely be sentenced to a prison term. The conviction rate under Israeli military law exceeds 99%. Petition signatures of support for Ahed by now exceed 1,000,000 (see This is a case that demands solidarity and action, for Ahed and for hundreds of Palestinian children incarcerated under the Israeli occupation!

Asma Jahangir: a leading Pakistani rights activist, died of a heart attack in early February. She was the founding chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, trustee of the International Crisis Group and served as the United Nations rapporteur on human rights and extrajudicial killings.

Asma’s political activism goes back to the late 1960s, when she participated in a women’s march to the residence of the governor of Punjab. Placed under house arrest and imprisoned under several military dictatorships, she was part of the successful lawyers’ movement to restore democracy in 2007.

As a lawyer and activist, Asma Jahangir championed the rights of religious minorities — who are charged under the country’s blasphemy laws — and women and men killed in the name of “honor.” She defended land rights of peasants, opposed debt slavery, and most recently supported prisoner of conscience Baba Jan, who is serving life imprisonment for organizing people displaced after a landslide. Let the fight for justice grow!

Heather Heyer: The 32-year-old marcher against the white-supremacist mobilization in Charlottesville, Virginia, was mowed down August 12, 2017 by a neonazi motorist driving his car into the crowd. This was the occasion of which Donald Trump obscenely opined that “there were very good people on both sides.” Her close friend Marissa Blair said that Heather “spoke for people even if they didn’t want to speak for themselves.” The resistance to white supremacy must now speak for her!

 Berta Cáceres: Leader of the Lenca indigenous community in Honduras, a winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for environmental activism and a founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), she was gunned down at her home in La Esperanza by agents linked to the Desarollos Energetica (DESA) hydroelectric dam company. A coup regime took power in 2009, returning the country to the rule of drug gangs and death squads (see Victoria Cervantes’ discussion of the recently stolen election and U.S. complicity, elsewhere in this issue). Two years before her March 2, 2016 assassination, Cáceres had singled out Hillary Clinton for her responsibility in the events of the coup ( Truly, the hands of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now joined together — dripping with the blood of Berta Cáceres and hundreds of indigenous and political activists murdered since the coup and in the events of the recently stolen election!

Erica Garner: The daughter of Eric Garner, she devoted her life to winning justice for her father who was murdered gasping “I Can’t Breathe” on the street in an illegal New York police chokehold. She died December 30, 2017, four months after her second child was born, of an asthma-induced heart attack. However, as the Reverend Al Sharpton eloquently stated, “her heart was attacked that day” when the police killed her father. She had suffered ever since, struggling to channel her grief and rage into becoming an effective activist fighter — a role she had never sought or prepared for. In memory of Erica Garner, it’s the responsibility of us all to end racist police impunity!

Tarana Burke: In 2006 she founded a movement called Me Too, after hearing a 13-year-old’s account of being raped, to draw attention to sexual harassment and abuse of women by powerful men. It attracted much too little attention at the time, but it took flight this past year as #MeToo has become the rallying cry for women harassed, groped and assaulted by previously untouchable male celebrities in the elite worlds of entertainment, business and politics. You can see a powerful interview with her at Thanks in no small part to Tarana Burke, Time’s Up!

March-April 2018, ATC 193