The Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah expressed anger at the gross violation of human rights in Gaza, and urged global leaders to demand for a ceasefire between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Malaysian Queen said this during the ‘United for Peace in Palestine’ forum in Istanbul, Turkiye, this afternoon. She was joined by the spouses of world leaders in support of the Palestinians who have been under unrelenting Israeli bombardment following Hamas’ attacks on Israeli soil, on Oct 7.
The summit was hosted by Turkish First Lady, Emine Erdogan, at the Dolmabahce Palace. Spouses and special representatives of state leaders from several countries, including Qatar, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan, joined the forum.
Here’s Tunku Azizah’s speech:
“Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
Allow me, at the outset, to commend and applaud Her Excellency Emine Erdogan, the First Lady of Turkiye, for taking this profound initiative to convene a gathering of First Ladies to create a much-needed forum to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
We all recognise, acknowledge and appreciate her work, dedication, and efforts to arrange this gathering for Palestine – United for Peace in Palestine. I am most honoured to be a part of this gathering.
First Ladies, honorable guests, ladies, and gentlemen.
Families broken. Children left without parents. Homes lost. Whole generations wiped out in an instant. People displaced. Every day, we are confronted by videos and photos on our social media of parents holding their injured children, of exhausted doctors working in bombed-out hospitals, of homes in ruins – of Gazans under siege.
Since the start of the devastating and cold-blooded campaign against the people of Gaza, it has been an unfolding human tragedy. With limited access to aid due to very restricted openings of a safe corridor, we are currently witnessing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza – what the United Nations is calling a ‘living nightmare’.
For years, Gazans have been living in an ‘open-air prison’, forced to endure a cruel and inhumane occupation. According to the British Red Cross, half of the population in Gaza is under 18 years old. For all their lives, they have been under Israeli control, with no free access in, or out of their land, and under a constant threat of losing their homes, and worse, their families.
This is a population that is completely traumatised and now, they are forced to undergo an even worse ordeal. In one month, over 10,000 Gazans have been killed, nearly half of them children. They have been denied and deprived of a normal childhood and family life. This is indeed a gross violation of a basic human right – the right to live a normal and decent life.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pointed out how “no one is safe” from Israel’s constant bombing of civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches, and UN facilities and shelters.
I am angry at this gross violation of human rights. I can no longer stay silent. I am worried. I am worried for the Gazan people, and for the safety of the children. I am worried for our humanity.
We cannot let the bombings continue; we must collectively call for the immediate end of hostilities. I stand here, to join the growing call for a ceasefire now. I appeal to world leaders to pressure for an end to this madness. I stand here not only as a Queen, but as a mother, with my own children whom I love dearly. I stand here as a Muslim, as a human being, and we must use our voice to say ‘Stop, enough is enough’!
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people are urging their governments to support the ceasefire. These people come from all walks of life, practice different religions, and speak different languages – but they speak with one voice: to call for peace, to live in harmony, and to respect each other.
I call on our global leaders to listen to them. I call on our leaders to demand for a ceasefire. We need this to support coordinated efforts by humanitarian organisations. We need this to send important supplies and support local groups on the ground providing emergency services. Most of all, we need this to save the dignity of those who are suffering. We must insist on an end to this siege. We must call for the permanent opening of the humanitarian corridor to Gaza so that they can receive vital help and start to rebuild their lives.
We must do it for the Gazan people, the thousands of children who live there, who need to know that they still have a future.
Because no human should live this way, in constant fear for their lives. Thousands of victims of bombings are still stuck under the rubble. Gaza’s Ministry of Health and other international aid organisations, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, have all talked about the lack of vital items such as fuel, food, electricity, and equipment, to save those trapped.
And yet, doctors, nurses, humanitarian workers, and personnel on the ground have been making it work, performing daily miracles. I am incredibly humbled to see how ordinary Gazans have remained resilient in the last month. This is a people who will not be defeated. They are facing one of the worst conflicts in our recent history, but they get up every day and they make the most of it. They make the most of limited supplies, they make the most of every moment. It is a reminder to be grateful for what we have.
But it is also an important reminder that we cannot ignore the pain and suffering our world is going through. Every country facing war, hardships, and conflict right now, deserves peace. I humbly speak for every one of them, and as a Muslim, I want to remind you that it is our duty as human beings to demand for an end to all hostilities. As has been said, “War brings pain, not gain. Let’s choose peace to prosper.”
Let us be on the right side of history so that when our future generations look back on us, they will be proud of what we did – successfully calling for a ceasefire, supporting humanity, and standing together for peace. Let that be our legacy. Let us all unite for Palestine.