Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’s delegation to Lebanon, the “Ghassan Kanafani Brigade,” officially kicked off its first day of activities on 22 July 2021, meeting with organizations in Shatila refugee camp and visiting with the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon. The delegation is comprised of Samidoun activists and members based in Sweden, France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Before entering Shatila camp, the delegation visited Shatila’s Martyrs Cemetery to pay their respects to those who dedicated their lives to the Palestinian liberation struggle. Shatila today is home to 27,000 people, including 14,000 Palestinian refugees struggling for their right to return home, denied them for 73 years.
The camp, established in 1948 by Palestinian refugees forcibly displaced from their homes and lands inside occupied Palestine by Zionist occupation forces during the Nakba, was also the site of the infamous massacre of 1982 carried out by the Israeli occupation and local reactionary forces.
At the Martyrs’ Cemetery, the delegation visited the graves of the great Palestinian revolutionary leader martyrs Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972), and Maher al-Yamani (1949-2019), and the internationalist martyrs of the Japanese Red Army Tsuyoshi Okudaira (1945-1972), Yasuyuki Yasuda (1945-1972), Bakawa Hiomori (1947-2002), Owasamu Maruoka (1950-2011).
In Shatila Camp, the delegation met with the Palestinian Chess Club, which provides both cultural and after school education for more than seventy children in the camp. The Club also provides a safe and progressive environment for the children in the camp, which is stricken with extreme poverty.
This poverty is firstly caused by Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian people, but is reinforced by the Lebanese state’s discriminatory laws. For example, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are not allowed to work, causing widespread unemployment and pushing them to illegal work.
The delegation met with dozens of members of the Club to get to know each other and exchange views and experiences, as well as playing some games of chess.
The Club, which was established in 2013, is actually run by the children themselves, who form the general assembly, with support of their coordinator Mahmoud Al-Hanoun. The Chess Club provides not only education about chess, but a grounding in Palestine and politics – a poster calling for the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, jailed for 37 years in France, hangs over the club’s main hall.
Samidoun thanks the Chess Club for the warm welcome and committed to continue to support the Club and its work politically and materially.
In the evening, the delegation met with the Lebanese Campaign for the Boycott of Supporters of “Israel”. This campaign started in 2002, during the Second Intifada. One important focus point of their campaign is the cultural and academic boycott of “Israel” and confronting creeping normalization and attempts to break the Lebanese boycott.
Samah Idriss, one of the co-founders of the Campaign, discussed the Lebanese economic and political crisis and the relations between the Lebanese left and the Palestinian people in Lebanon with the delegation.
The delegation will proceed throughout the coming days, with ongoing reports of the delegation’s meetings and work throughout Lebanon. You can also follow the progress of the delegation on Samidoun Stockholm’s social media (@samidoun08), Collectif Palestine Vaincra (@collectifpalestinevaincra) and Samidoun Spain (@samidoun.esp).
The delegation is self-funded by Samidoun Network and the participants taking part in the delegation and its meetings. However, the delegation also aims to support organizing and build resources in the Palestinian refugee camps and throughout Lebanon, which is currently experiencing an extreme financial crisis, the greatest burden of which is falling on the most marginalized.
Your contribution can help the delegation to support the work of grassroots organizers in the Palestinian refugee camps to sustain and build their work as well as launching new centers for organizing for liberation and return for Palestine. Make your donation below to support this important initiative.