Silas Cerqueira is deceased

It was with deep regret that the MPPM- Movement for the Rights of the Palestinian People and Peace in the Middle East - took note of the death of Silas Coutinho Cerqueira, our founding member, director and major driver, occurred yesterday. His wake will take place at the House of Peace, headquarters of the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation in Lisbon, at Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 56, 2nd, between 17h and 22h, on Wednesday, August 24th, and between 10 hand 16h Thursday, 25 August. His funeral will take place in the cemetery of Alto de São João, on Thursday, from 17h.
A tireless fighter for peace, Silas Cerqueira dedicated his life to the cause of peace and cooperation, solidarity among peoples and the fight against racism, colonialism, apartheid and all forms of discrimination and exploitation. He was an important antifascist fighter and was arrested on several occasions by the police of the dictatorship. A renowned and prestigious international personality, Silas Cerqueira leaves his name on the most important initiatives and public movements promoted in Portugal before and after April 25, related to the struggle for peace and solidarity among peoples. Among the many and varied struggles that involved, Silas Cerqueira he felt with particular intensity the drama of the Palestinian people and the constant threat to peace that is the situation in the Middle East, which he deeply knew as a result of his many visits to the region.
He was the great worker of the organization in Lisbon, in November 1979, of the World Conference in Solidarity with the Arab People and his Central Cause: Palestine. Promoted by the Arab People's Congress and an international committee representative of organizations from North and Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, the Conference was organized, at the national level, by the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation, and had the support a wide range of personalities and democratic, civic, humanitarian and religious associations. The presence in Portugal, during those days, of the President of the PLO, Yasser Arafat – his first visit to a country in Western Europe, during which he was received by the Head of State and the Prime Minister, then respectively, General Ramalho Eanes and Maria de Lurdes Pintasilgo – reinforced the high significance of this event, which marked symbolically the beginning of the recognition, in Western Europe, of the PLO and, in general, of the Palestinian cause.
As an aggregator of wills supporting the rights of the Palestinian people, Silas Cerqueira promoted in February 2004 – at the same time as the issue was discussed at the International Court of Justice in The Hague – the petition "No to Sharon Wall "which collected accessions of a significant number of individuals representing various sectors of the Portuguese activity, He publicly presented the petition at the United Nations International Meeting on the Impact of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including In and Around East Jerusalem which was held in Geneva on 15 and 16 April 2004.
In June 2005, he laid the foundation of MPPM with the document entitled "Reasons, Principles and Objectives of the Constitution a Movement for Palestinian People's Rights and Peace in the Middle East", which was to be signed by a significant range of individualities and stressed the need to set up a Portuguese movement to defend the rights of the Palestinian people, defining what should be its guidelines.
The Installing Committee, which he integrated, created the conditions so that, on August 9, 2007, MPPM was constituted as non-profit association.
Silas Cerqueira always integrated the National Directorate of MPPM, where he held the positions of Coordinator of the Executive Committee and Secretary for International Relations.
His friendship with José Saramago, another long-time militant of the Palestinian cause, paved the way for Saramago’s acceptance of the invitation to preside over the General Assembly of MPPM, a position he held until his death.
One of Silas Cerqueira personality traits was his ability to bring together individual wills around common causes, overcoming differences that could be manifested in other aspects of public life. This explains the plurality of adhesions that he achived in the initiatives he led, as well as the diversity of sensibilities he gathered in the teams he formed.
Also, in the international field, MPPM benefited from reputation Silas Cerqueira had as a renowned militant of the cause of peace and solidarity with the peoples. His action was decisive for the accreditation of MPPM as Non-Governmental Organization by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, by Determination of 17 September 2009. It was also through his influence tha it was possible to bring to Portugal, to participate in MPPM initiatives, internationally renowned figures, as happened in June 2012 with a UN delegation composed by the President of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Ambassador Abdou Salam Diallo, Ambassador of Senegal to the United Nations, and Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, who participated in the International Seminar "The Palestinian Issue and Peace in the Middle East."
Over the years, Silas Cerqueira imprinted on MPPM his bold and unyielding fighter brand. At this time of sorrow, we present to his family our heartfelt condolences and affirm our solemn commitment to honor his memory by continuing his struggle until there is a just peace in the Middle East and the Palestinian people lives in freedom in its independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Lisbon, August 23, 2016
The National Directorate of MPPM
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