‘These are not just numbers!’: Huge banner naming Palestinians killed in Gaza displayed in front of Senedd

The banner was 200 metres long and had 20,000 hand-written names

A 200-METRE long banner displaying the names of 20,000 people killed in Gaza was displayed outside the Senedd.

The protesters called for members of the Senedd to stand with them and pay tribute at the event on March 13.

Protesters wanted the public to remember that each statistic was a human life lost. 

Protesters and Members of Senedd holding the banner. Credit: Katharine Worrell

The protesters gathered in front of the Senedd at noon and had to split into groups to hold different sections of the 200 metre banner.Due to the size it was split into three parts. Each protester was dressed in black and had brought flowers, treating the event as a funeral. 

One of the protesters, Sumayya Ahmed, gave a speech to the crowd talking about the importance of grief. 

Sumayya Ahmed giving her speech. Credit: Katharine Worrell

“We have not been able to grieve our children, our mothers or our fathers. We have been denied the right to memorialise their names, their stories. What we want from the Senedd is for us to be able to hear them mention at least one name per Senedd member, per day.” 

She praised the Welsh government for voting to call for a ceasefire but was clear that more needed to be done. She said herself and the campaign wished to see Senedd members visiting Gaza in person to provide aid to those dying of starvation. 

In an interview, Mrs Amhed talked more about the importance of these protests. 

“The geographic distance may be far, but politically we are very very close to what is going on. There is a historic responsibility for us to make sure that the justices that have been withheld and the traumas that have been inflicted are reversed.” 

We have not been able to grieve!”

Sumayya Ahmed, protester

Some of the names on the banner are particularly relevant to Cardiff. 

“Because we are in Wales there is one person, Miriam, a child who was three years old. Her grandmother lives in Cardiff, and she was not able to say goodbye to the 20 members of her family that were killed. It brings her so much pain. In tribute to her I will mention that story,” said Mrs Ahmed. 

Current records show that 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7. This number does not include those whose bodies are buried beneath their destroyed homes, according to a press release from Newport Palestine Support campaign who organised the event. 

Many people attending the protest were not part of Newport Palestine Support but were volunteers who had heard about the event on social media. 

“We need to respond to this by putting pressure on the government to end this right away. Too many people have died already, many too many people!” said Frankie Fern, one of the volunteers, while waving a Palestine flag.

Image Credit: Katharine Worrelll
Image Credit: Katharine Worrell

These statistics come from a House of Commons Committee Report .

Volunteers holding the banner. Credit: Katharine Worrell

The honorary president of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Betty Hunter, said in the press release it is always difficult to understand the scale of loss when large numbers are involved. People tend to focus on the statistic and forget there is a person behind it. 

“The banner helps us make a human connection to each death and reflect on the lost dreams and hopes,” said Ms Hunter. 

The campaign also partnered with ‘Naming the Dead’, a Bristol based organisation who made the banner and have organised similar events. 

Mrs Ahmed explained that she felt let down by media coverage of Palestine. She praised social media for being a tool for young people to learn about what is going on across the world. For the first time young people are able to challenge the media’s narrative and participate in events like this one. 

“We can have a better Britain, a more moral Britain,” she continued. 

Mrs Ahmed is from Cardiff and works as a neuroscientist. She spoke about her identity as a British-Palestinian women and how she is currently unable to visit Palestine as she once did.

“This hurts me. I claim all parts of my identity,” she said sadly.

The protest was also attended by members of Plaid Cymru including the party leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, MS Owen Griffths, MS Delyth Jewell and MS Cefin Campbell.