The Palestinian Return Centre participated in one of the opening events of West Belfast’s Féile An Phobail. Féile an Phobail, also known as the West Belfast Festival is a community arts organisation known for its August Féile. The organisation is prominent for its promotion of Irish and international culture as well as solidarity with international causes, especially the Palestinian cause. The festival takes place on and around Falls Road in Belfast, North of Ireland.
On Wednesday 12th August, the Palestinian Return Centre participated in the Féile An Phobail’s panel discussion on ‘Palestine in 2022’. The event took place in Belfast’s St Mary’s College, on the Falls Road.
James McCarthy a local Belfast-based journalist for the Andersontown News, chaired the panel which consisted of speakers including teenage activist Janna Jihad, Farrah Koutteineh - on behalf of PRC and the rapper and activist, Lowkey.
The Panel Discussion began with the chair introducing the evenings 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 evening was well known rapper and activist, Lowkey. Lowkey delved into the online censorship Palestinians and Palestinian activists face on social media platforms. The way in which those social media platforms operate and are staffed, in order to silence Palestinian presence across all major social media platforms. Wrapping up his speech, he then mentioned the attempts by the Israeli lobby to take his music off Spotify.