“I Will No Longer Be Complicit in Genocide”

February 26, 2024 Statements

Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | February 26, 2024
— United States Air Force active duty member Aaron Bushnell, who set himself on fire outside of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, has died of his injuries. The twenty-five-year-old live streamed the self-immolation on Sunday, stating that he will “no longer be complicit in genocide.” Bushnell’s last words were, “Free Palestine.” 

“My name is Aaron Bushnell, and I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force. I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest but, compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

– Aaron Bushnell’s final message

This isn’t the first instance of protestors resorting to extreme measures in their desperate attempts to be heard. Since 2008, Tibet has witnessed the largest surge of self-immolation as a form of political protest in modern history. In 2010, a Tunisian fruit and vegetable vendor immolated himself in the town of Sidi Bouzid, igniting the “Thawra” or revolution across North Africa and other Arab nations. Most recently, a woman wrapped in a Palestinian flag intentionally set herself ablaze in October outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta. We can see a semblance of Aaron Bushnell in these respective protests, serving as a poignant reminder of the pervasive sense of desperation felt by those calling for equality and justice around the world.

Amid these desperate acts of dissent, the death toll in Gaza is nearing 30,000, and the Biden administration has yet to call for a ceasefire. Biden has failed to pressure Israel to allow the flow of humanitarian aid into a region where innocent civilians, including children, are dying of starvation. According to the UNRWA, the last time food was delivered to Gaza was January 23rd, over a month ago. Senator Chris Van Hollen called the denial of food to starving civilians “a war crime.”  Many Americans are protesting US sponsorship of and collaboration with the genocide, with some like Bushnell using extreme forms of protest to send a final and ultimately fatal message of discontent.  

The US media and government officials have shown a pattern of ignoring or dismissing the pleas of the American people at large, particularly when it comes to the ongoing violations of human rights in Palestine and right here at home — they have lost all credibility with the country, the majority of whom are opposed to the genocide.  Our elected representatives and administration appear to have shifted their focus away from serving the interests of the people they represent, instead prioritizing the agendas of foreign nations and influential lobbying groups like AIPAC. We as the American people must demand accountability from our representatives and U.S. media, and find alternative forms of communication to understand the truth about the ongoing assault on Palestinian life.

The loss of Aaron Bushnell, a man who was dedicated to serving our country, is a tragic reminder of the consequences of inaction. It is a call for all of us to work towards justice and accountability with renewed urgency. 

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