A woman who says she was appealing for help to get her parents out of Gaza and trying to speak to federal Liberal party members in Halifax Thursday night alleges she was injured while being arrested by police.
Mouna Manna, 38, was part of a protest outside a downtown restaurant where Minister of National Defence Bill Blair and Halifax MP Andy Fillmore were dining. The politicians are attending this year’s Halifax International Security Forum.
Manna said she had tried to buy tickets to the event to speak with Fillmore, but was told she was unable to purchase last-minute seats.
“The reason why we wanted to go in there to talk to (Fillmore) and his friends was because we never got any reply or anything back from him or anybody,” she explained in an interview on Friday.
“At that moment, I’m desperate. My parents are in Gaza. They’ve been there for as long as the war’s been going on.”
She said she called out to Fillmore when she spotted him in the restaurant and was ultimately arrested.
“They (police) asked me to leave and I said, ‘I need to talk to them. I need to relay a message,’” she said.
“This other cop comes from the other side, pulls me in with full force.”
Manna alleges police wrenched her arm back while putting her in the police car during the arrest. She said she went to the hospital after police released her, and said she was told she had a torn muscle.
Halifax Regional Police confirms two people were arrested for breaching the peace but offered no further details.
The Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT), which investigates serious incidents involving police in the province, told Global News they were not aware yet of this incident. Manna said she plans on filing a complaint and is contemplating legal action.
The Gaza conflict, now in its sixth week, began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into Israel, killing an estimated 1,200 people and taking roughly 240 others back into Gaza as hostages.
More than 11,200 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, with most believed to be buried under the rubble. The official count does not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths, and Israel says it has killed thousands of militants.
Manna said her elderly parents travelled to Gaza in September to visit her grandmother and arrived 10 days before the conflict began.
“It all started right away, and I started thinking of ways to get my parents out ASAP,” Manna said.
“I had so much faith in the Canadian government and I cannot say I have any more.”
In a statement, Fillmore’s office said “the right to protest is a necessary part of a healthy democracy” and that the federal government was “working nonstop to evacuate Canadians from the affected areas.”
“If you are a Halifax constituent and Canadian citizen or permanent resident who requires assistance getting out of Gaza, my office is always available to connect you with consular support and ensure every effort is made to get you home safely as quickly as possible,” the statement went on.
“As MP, I continue to meet with and hear from constituents and community leaders impacted by this conflict.”
About 300 delegates are in Halifax for the annual global security forum, which is taking place at the Westin Hotel. While the agenda is heavily focused this year on the war in Ukraine, the fighting between Israel and Hamas will likely come up when former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak participates in a discussion on Saturday.
At Peace and Friendship Park, across the street from where the forum is taking place, protesters gathered Friday afternoon.
Manna’s brother, Ibrahim, was among those at the protest Friday.
“My parents are Canadian citizens, 28 years. Canadian citizens here in Nova Scotia,” he said.
“We can’t even get them out right now, and I’m calling all the government officials to help and to call for a ceasefire and to get the Canadians out.”
Amethyste Hamel-Gregory said she was compelled to show up at the rally after seeing the images of the deadly conflict.
“It’s kind of hard to believe but at the same time you have to believe how incredibly and horrifying it is and stand up against it,” she said.
More protests are planned over the course of the three-day conference, which wraps up on Sunday.
— With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, and Global News’ Heidi Petracek and Zack Power.
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