On the 46th Anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day, the Palestinian Return Centre launched its nationwide Ireland tour in Belfast on Friday 25th March 2022, at Conway Mill.
A representative of the local Belfast BDS group chaired the event and opened the event by introducing the event’s first speaker, Janna Jihad. Janna Jihad is a young Palestinian activist known for being the world’s youngest journalist. A resident of the Nabi Saleh Village in occupied Palestine, Janna regularly participates in demonstrations against the Israeli Occupation. She began making video reports of what was happening in her village, from the Israeli occupation to illegal settlement building, starting when she was only 7. When she was seven years old, the murder of her uncle at the hands of the Israeli military drove her to speak out about the brutal military occupation. Janna filmed her uncle’s killing on her mother’s phone and shared it with the world. By the time she was 13, Janna was recognized as one of the youngest journalists in the world, documenting the Israeli army’s oppressive and often deadly treatment of Palestinians. Janna Jihad faces death threats and intimidation because of her work.
Janna spoke on the importance of land to the livelihoods of Palestinians - and how Palestinians are intrinsically rooted into the land of Palestine. She shared her personal stories of being a child living under brutal Israeli military occupation and how she wishes she will be the last generation of Palestinian children forced to endure such brutality.
The event then heard from Farrah Koutteineh - Speaking on behalf of the Palestinian Return Centre. Koutteineh spoke on the current dire situation Palestinian refugees face in Lebanon, Syria and within Palestine. Koutteineh closed her speech with emphasising the importance of supporting the right of return, and that the right of return is one of the only sources of justice that is left for Palestinians that can still be ascertained.
The final speaker of the event was local Irish activist Martin Rafferty, from the 32 Counties Movement, a group who call for a free and united ireland. Rafferty spoke on the stark parallels between the Irish and Palestinian struggle. From the British Black and Tans being sent to Ireland and Palestine in the early 1900’s to quash Irish and Palestinian struggles for freedom and independence, to the disastrous role of Bill Clinton in the Good Friday Agreement and the Oslo Accords. Rafferty closed his speech by referencing the strong connection Ireland has to Palestine, and that their freedoms are bound together as one, and can only be achieved together.
The Palestinian Return Centre is hosting ‘The Shared Struggle: Ireland & Palestine’ to commemorate both the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the upcoming anniversary of Land Day and to honour the long standing solidarity between the Irish and Palestinian people.