The World Mourns the Death of Arafat

November 14, 2004

After the death of Yasser Arafat was announced on November 11, people throughout the world paid tribute to the Palestinian leader in public rallies, statements, and solemn ceremonies.

Throughout the West Bank, Gaza and Palestinian occupied lands, millions came out to commemorate Arafat and pledge to continue the struggle of Palestinian national liberation.

Shops throughout Palestine were shuttered as the Palestinian Authority declared a 40-day mourning period. In Ramallah, residents filled the streets in grief, and cars plastered with posters of Arafat crawled through the streets. As the helicopter carrying Arafat's coffin landed in Ramallah, thousands swarmed around the vehicle.

In Gaza city, thousands came out into the streets unleashing volleys of automatic rifle gunfire into the air as the Arab people vowed to continue the path of struggle and liberation.

In a symbolic funeral for the dead leader in Jenin, thousands of Palestinians buried a coffin wrapped in the Palestinian flag. Across the West Bank, hundreds of thousands of mourners marched in towns holding pictures of Arafat wearing his trademark black-and-white headdress.

In the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, there was a profound sense of loss. In southern Lebanon, thousands of people rushed into the narrow streets of the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp, praising their leader and promising to keep up the struggle against Israeli aggression.

Demonstrations, mourning Arafat's death, also took place in Egypt, Bangladesh and China, as well as in other parts of the world. Many world leaders in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Europe issued public statements, expressing their profound sadness for the Palestinian people's loss.

Message of Condolences to Speaker of Palestinian Legislative Council

Pyongyang, November 11 (KCNA) -- Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Thursday sent a message of condolences to Rawhi Fatouh, speaker of the Legislative Council of the Palestinian National Authority, over the death of Yasser Arafat, president of the State of Palestine, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of the Palestinian National Authority. The message said:

Upon hearing the sad news that HE Yasser Arafat passed away, I express deep condolences to you and, through you, to the bereaved family of the deceased and the Palestinian people.

HE Yasser Arafat was a prominent politician who led the Palestinian revolution for nearly 40 years and an outstanding leader who made a distinguished contribution to the noble cause of establishing an independent state of Palestine and winning back the legitimate right of the Palestinian people.

He was a close friend of the Korean people as he made ceaseless efforts to develop the friendly and cooperative relations between the peoples of the DPRK and Palestine.

Though he passed away, the noble exploits performed by him in the Palestinian cause will always be remembered by the Palestinians and progressive humankind.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to express my conviction that the Palestinian people will overcome the grief over the death of their leader and come out in firm unity in their dynamic struggle to build an independent state of Palestine which was his desire.

Cuba Declares National Mourning for Yasser Arafat´s Death

Fidel Castro Signs Books of Condolences for Arafat's Death

"Eternal honor and glory to an unforgettable and heroic combatant"

Official mourning for the death of the PLA president

On the evening of October 11, at the Palacio de la Revolución, President Fidel Castro signed the book of condolences opened by the Palestinian Embassy in Havana on the death of Yasser Arafat, the leader of this Arab people.

On the first page of the book that the Palestinian ambassador was kind enough to send him, Fidel wrote:

"Eternal honor and glory to the unforgettable and heroic combatant Yasser Arafat. Nothing can erase your name from the history of those great fighters who have struggled for the freedom of the peoples."

The Cuban president also sent a message of condolence to Rauhi Fatuh, president of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in which he expressed his profound grief over Arafat’s death, describing it as "a harsh blow for the progressive movement worldwide."

In the letter, Fidel recalled that, for more than four decades, Arafat led the Palestinian people’s struggle for an independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He underlined that the deceased combatant had also defended the just demand for the return to their native homes of all the refugees forced to abandon their ancestral land.

After describing Arafat as a "close friend", the Cuban president remarked that the late Palestinian leader is an example of a tireless fighter for the right of the peoples to freedom and independence.

"We reiterate," he added, "our unwavering solidarity and support for the just cause of the Palestinian people and our decision to continue strengthening the fraternal links that unite our peoples."

He also expressed his conviction that the Palestinian people will overcome all the obstacles that may arise at this painful and difficult time.

Likewise, the Council of State of Cuba has announced a period of official mourning from November 11 through 14 for the death of the president of the Palestinian National Authority.

"Cuba feels as its own the profound grief and pain at the loss of this close friend of our people," reads the decree, which highlights Arafat as a leader of undisputed prestige and authority.

It also describes him as an outstanding revolutionary combatant, who was always on the front line and who dedicated his life and efforts to achieving recognition of the Palestinian people’s right to exist and constitute their own state.

At the U.N.

The flag at UN Headquarters in New York was lowered to half mast in mourning....

At the General Assembly's afternoon memorial session, the chairmen of the various regional groups took the podium to pay homage.

Ambassador Crispin Grey-Johnson of Gambia, speaking on behalf of the African States, said his delegation had been profoundly saddened by the death of Mr. Arafat, who had been the very personification of the Palestinian people's struggle for self-determination. He had committed his entire life to the cause of peace and had taken the question of Palestine from being a mere footnote on the international agenda to an issue of international debate and world discourse. He had left his footprints on the sands of time, and the African Group hoped that his spirit and memory would radiate among Palestinians, as well as among all the people of the wider Middle East and beyond.

Speaking on behalf of the Asian nations, Ambassador Rezlan Ishar Jenie of Indonesia said his delegation regretted that Mr. Arafat, the father of the Palestinian movement, had been unable to see the emergence of an independent Palestinian State during his lifetime.

His permanent desire was justice and peace for a people only too familiar with the harshness of oppression. And when the ferocity of the campaign against the Palestinian people did not lessen over the years, Mr. Arafat matched it with the intensity of his spirit and undying optimism. For that, he was loved and admired by people all over the world.

Belarusian Ambassador Andrei Dapkiunas, speaking on behalf of the Eastern European States, said it was his sad duty to comment on the death and extraordinary life of President Arafat, who would be remembered as a lifelong symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people. As a person and as a statesman, he had left an undeniable imprint, not just on the Middle East but also on the world's international political scene. His delegation conveyed its deepest sympathies to the Palestinian people.

Eduardo Sevilla Somoza, Nicaragua's Ambassador, spoke on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States. He said Mr. Arafat had been an historic figure who symbolized the feelings of his people until his very last breath. The Group expressed its most heartfelt condolences to the Palestinian people, and particularly his widow and young daughter. It would also urge the Palestinian people and their leaders to keep alive the search for a free, sovereign and economically viable State dedicated to peace, not only for Palestine, but for the region and the entire world.

Sudan's Ambassador, Omar Bashir Mohamed Manis, said on behalf of the Arab States that the late President continued to work on behalf of the Palestinian people to have an independent State, and he sacrificed everything that was precious to him to achieve that ideal.

Despite forced imprisonment, he had worked to mobilize efforts with the peace process and took brave decisions with insight to pursue the establishment of an independent state through difficult negotiations.

President Arafat's loss was a source of great sadness for all peace-loving nations and people, and for those who cared about the peace process in the Middle East.

Ambassador Rastam Mohd Isa of Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said President Arafat would be forever remembered for his immense courage, enormous sacrifice and strong determination in championing and protecting the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of Palestine and their claim to their own sovereign homeland. He had devoted his life to that struggle against all odds for almost four decades, including suffering the indignity of being virtually imprisoned by the Israelis. President Arafat would indelibly remain the icon of the Palestinian struggle against injustices, brutal oppression and subjugation, as well as against the forces that sought to deny the Palestinian people of their dignity, freedom and independence.

Somaia Barghouti, the observer of Palestine, said Mr. Arafat had left the world and his spirit had returned to his Creator, but part of that spirit would remain with the Palestinian people. He had been a liberator and had struggled to ensure that the Palestinian people were freed from the shackles of oppression and occupation. In addition, Mr. Arafat had left a great universal and national legacy, which represented hope for the future for Palestinians and all people of the world. He lived hoping to make Palestine an independent state and the people would miss his great courage, adherence to principle, clear strategic vision and wise leadership. But they could take solace that Palestine die not stand by itself in the struggle for freedom.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey, Altay Cengizer, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), said the Muslim world was aggrieved but in a most meaningful way. It joined its Palestinian brothers and sisters in their loss. President Arafat epitomized the rightful struggle of his people. The flame he lit with courage and self-determination, and which had remained unabated for half a century, would continue until Palestinian statehood was achieved. He paid tribute to President Arafat's unforgettable memory and his struggle on the side of justice. He prayed for the late President's soul, for his family and brethren around the world, and saluted his ideal, which would never fade away.

Ambassador Paul Badji of Senegal, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Palestinian people had lost a leader who, for decades, had been a powerful symbol of their national aspiration, unity and steadfastness, and who devoted most of his life to the struggle against the occupation and for the realization of their inalienable rights. The Committee was hopeful that the Palestinian people would remain united and determined to continue along the road of peace charted by President Arafat.