***image2***Contingents from the refugee camps all over the West Bank took the lead in yesterday’s events celebrating the 59th anniversary of the Nakba in Ramallah on May 15. They came from Hebron (Arroub and Fawwar camps), Bethlehem (Deheisheh and Aida camps) Jenin camp, Tulkarem (Nur ash Shams and Tulkarem camps), Jericho (Aqbe Jaber camp) Ramallah (Jalazon, Al Amari, Qaddouri, Deir Ammar and Qalandiya camps) and Jerusalem (Shuâfat camp). Tents representing the villages, towns and cities where the people were expelled from were set up in front of the Muqataâ, the Presidentâs Compound, and were the focal point for the some five thousand people who gathered there. Many of those participating were children from UNRWA administered schools which were closed for the day.
***image3***Events started at around 11 in the morning with opening speeches from community leaders, performances by bands from each of the camps and traditional Dabka dancing. The sound of solemn drumbeats then echoed around the city as people marched behind their bands through the streets to join the rally in the al Manara square.
A wide range of groups and organizations forming the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba were represented at the rally, including the Global Palestine Right-of-Return Coalition, the Council of National and Islamic Forces, the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, National Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, PLO Department for Refugee Affairs (DORA).
***image4***Speeches emphasized the centrality of the right of return to the Palestinian struggle and how this right could never be negotiated away. Speakers also talked about a wide range of issues affecting the Palestinian people, their daily lives and their quest for Justice. Speakers remembered the days of the Nakba in 1948 as well as the fate of all those that are struggling from within the refugee camps – the keys for their homes in the Palestinian villages and cities from which they have been expelled still preserved.
This popular display of determination was to remind the Palestinian and Arab leadership and the international community that the Palestinian people are still unbroken, demanding and struggling for their rights. Itâs time for return!