Your cameras can free Palestine

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The GIMUN 2016 Annual Conference, held from March 7th to 11th at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, gathered around 200 students for a model UN. Yes, it was over a month ago, but it turns out the GIMUN Chronicles journalists had not said their last word! When the conference ended, they still had a few more articles left for us…

Crédit : Facebook / youthagainstsettlement

By Valentina San Martin, translated by John Ryan-Mills

Freedom is relative : although everyone is born free, various laws continually force people to spend their lives living in restricted freedom. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”.

During the first Arab-Israeli war, which began in 1948,the Israelis took control of a large area of land that still forms part of their state today. The partition which followed this war led to the forced exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who for the most part took shelter in neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, or Syria. At present, Palestine remains an occupied and marginalized territory, owingnotably to the failure of numerous attempts at international negotiation led by powerful nations, but above all to politicians and a dominant media who remain indifferent to a nation that has been subjugated for decades.

This is why in 2012 a non-violent protest group named Youth Against Settlements (YAS) was formed, with the aim of ending the establishment and expansion of illegal Israeli colonies through non-violent protests and civil resistance.

Based in Hebron – one of the areas most affected by the Israeli occupation – the group decided to fight back against various military laws that the Israeli state has imposeds, such as checkpoints, curfews, and its regime of forced expulsions, to name only a few. In an area where unwarranted searches, arrests without charge, and physical violence are frequent, around 13,000 Palestinian civilians have been forced to leave Hebron, which has almost become a ghost town.

With the aim of bringing down the occupation as well as putting a stop to the demands imposed upon the region’s inhabitants, YAS encourages Hebron’s population to remain in place and to mount non-violent resistance campaigns, mainly through the empowerment and education of Palestinians, the focus being on – the youngest people, who represent the future of a nation that has been oppressed for too long. But their main aim is to use documentary footage to make the international community aware of the many abuses of power perpetrated by the Israeli army.

However, the Israeli army has continued not only to arrest members of the association but has damaged their premises and multimedia equipment, such as cameras, preventing YAS from successfully achieving this main aim.

Since then, a group of Swiss youths based in Lausanne has made the decision to contact members of Youth Against Settlements, forming a collective with the goal of pooling a large number of cameras to help members of YAS to continue their work. To date, the collective has already organized several successful events and has already been able to make some donations. The collective is also aiming to set up an event in support of YAS which would exhibit some of the members’ photography.

Meanwhile, the status of Israeli-Palestinian conflict which divides the Holy Land remains unchanged, and the number of victims of war continues to grow. It seems as though some sort of freedom, relative though it may be, sadly remains a far-off possibility.

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