The Palestinian Return Centre participated in People Before Profit’s annual conference in Belfast, Ireland. The conference took place in Belfast’s prestigious Queen’s University on Saturday 8th October.
The conference was chaired by Fiona Ferguson, a People Before Profit Councillor for Belfast, who introduced the first speaker, Farrah Koutteineh. Ms Koutteineh spoke on behalf of the Palestinian Return Centre during the Conference’s plenary session entitled ‘Free Palestine: Taking a Stand Against Apartheid’, engaging the audience with the concept of the Palestinian right of return, it’s legal basis and it’s need to be implemented 74 years on, for the worlds largest and longest waiting refugee population: Palestinian refugees. She then delved into the current dire situation Palestinian refugees face living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and within Palestine. She wrapped up her speech emphasising the urgency of the Palestinian right of return, as Palestinian refugees continue to languish in refugee camps unfit for human habitation.
The plenary session also heard from Richard Boyd Barrett, a Teachta Dála for the Dún Laoghaire constituency in Ireland’s House of Parliament, Dáil Éireann. Mr Boyd-Barrett helped to organise mass protests against the war in Iraq in 2003 as chair for the Irish Anti-War movement. He has continuously politically fought for Ireland's Israeli Ambassador to be expelled, and to place sanctions on Israel, for its brutal treatment of Palestinians and its apartheid regime.
Mr Boyd-Barrett spoke on the hypocrisy of which the world has responded to the Russia/Ukraine crisis, with how they respond to Palestine. Delving into how Palestinians have every right to fight imperialism just as Ukrainians do. He then touched on the reports released by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Israeli apartheid earlier this year, stating how Israel was categorically an apartheid state, for which he witnessed for himself when he lived on an Israeli farm in his youth.
The conference then heard from the final speaker of the plenary session, Mohammad Sa’amana, who is the chair of the Belfast branch of Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Mr Sa’amana spoke on his own personal experience of living under Israeli apartheid, and having to go through checkpoints every day of his life living in Palestine.