Posts Tagged Aid for Palestine

Freedom & Friendship Delegation “Ibrahim’s Dream”

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 September, 2012

Ibrahim waves to the people of Ireland, he hopes you will help change his life

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya is a 26 year old young man who lives in a very crowded refugee camp in Gaza. Dealing with everyday life can be harsh, the lack of electricity, or petrol or food. All of this makes life difficult for Ibrahim, who is tasked with the responsibility of providing for the 11 member family, two of whom are attemtping to go to college. The whole family depends on Ibrahim to survive, you see, Ibrahim’s father is not well and disabled. Albiet this would be a difficult enough task for any of us here in Ireland, but for Ibrahim it is even more difficult because he lives in Gaza.

Ibrahim was once a proud Gazan fisherman. Everyday he took to the sea in his small boat and fished the waters near his home. Being a fisherman is never easy, and can at times be dangerous, even in Ireland we know this to be so. Yet in Gaza fishermen face another danger that we dont have here in Ireland. Gazan fishermen must face the israeli navy on a daily basis as israel continues to tighten the seige by restricting the fishing areas and enforcing these illegal self made restrictions by firing at the small fishing boats as they cast their nets in hope of receiving a days worth of food. Sometimes setting the small boats on fire and sinking them, sometimes killing the fishermen on board.

But sadly Ibrahim is no longer a proud Gazan fisherman.

Ibrahim has been injured four times by Israeli attacks since the age of 12. But his life changed forever in 2008 when Israel attacked Gaza, 1400 people were slaughtered in 22 days, many more were left severely wounded and injured. It was during this time that Ibrahim was struck by an israeli artillary shell. He lost both his legs and one of his eyes.

Today Ibrahim is forced to try his best to make ends meet for himself and his family by washing cars in Gaza.

Ibrahim at work in Gaza

Ibrahim’s day begins early, at 7AM he gathers his supplies, ties his bucket to his old ragged wheelchair, then he kisses his mother’s hand and says “goodbye” as he begins his journey around the streets of Gaza looking for cars to wash. He maneuvers deftly with his rag and bucket and tries his best to reach every part of the car. All this for $1.50 or $3 if the car owner decides to be generous.

In our terms that is £0.94 or E1.19 per car!

As soon as a driver agrees to let Ibrahim wash his car, the disabled young man works so hard until the car is shining. Nobody helps him but he smiles when he finishes cleaning the car and hands it back to the owner.

“Please never look at my disabled body, look at the great job I ‘m doing,” said Abu Thuraya “I never felt despaired. It’s not the end of the world and life should go on.” He refuses any offers from car owners to give him money without him doing any job. “I’m not a hobo or a beggar. I can work and make my living,” he said. “Although I earn little money, at the end of the day I feel happy and satisfied because I hate just staying at home or becoming a beggar.”

Ibrahim uses his old manual wheelchair which is laden down with his buckets and rags to get around the streets of Gaza in order to work washing cars. His wheelchair has a tendancy to tip over at times, especially when he transfers from the chair to the car and back again, or when he turns corners. But that doesnt have to be so, Ibrahim has a dream of haivng his own electric powerchair so that he can carry all his supplies and safely get around the streets of Gaza easier, travel much farther, and perform his job faster than he can now. Having a special chair that wont tip over would help him avoid any more injuries!! An electric chair would give him the chance to earn more money, and make his work much easier and his life much freer!

Official figures show that the Gaza Strip has tens of thousands of disabled people, and due to years of tight Israeli blockade the coastal enclave is in a bad need of medical equipment for these people. Ibrahim says: “I feel embarrassed when people look at my disability, but life has to continue.”

PLEASE DONATE TO HELP US MAKE IBRAHIM’S DREAM COME TRUE

You can support our endeavours to deliver an Electric Wheelchair to Ibrahim by making a donation to our group.
You can make a standing order for any amount, or a bank transfer can be sent via:

Bank of Ireland
account# 45463260
Sort Code 90 49 74
Strand Road, Derry

Cheques can be sent:

Friends of Palestine
C/O Destined
45 Great James Street
Derry, BT48 7DF

“SONGS FOR IBRAHIM” EVENT AMAZING SPIRIT OF SUPPORT

Posted by on Sunday, 16 September, 2012

Members of Irish Ship to Gaza pictured with John Kavanagh and our friend Kamal from Gaza

Heartfelt Thanks to a great guy John Kavanagh who organised the event and who has a big heart!!

Followed by another BIG “Thank You” to all the musicians who performed on the night, such a huge amount of talent and so many offering their time and talent to help Ibrahim a young man they will most likely never meet, who lives in Gaza, Palestine. This is the amazing spirit of people in action!

Now, for those who could not attend the Event, here is some of what you missed out on:

The night began with two amazing wee Irish Dancers; Katelyn Whitty & Abby Walsh. Abby Walsh is Munster Champion for her age group.

The Dancers were followed by the young group called the “Trad Band” from Ballinaboola, Co Wexford. We love these guys so much!!!

After the Trad Lads we were entertained by Johnny Dunphy & Michelle Haberlin, and then Mark Atkins Sang and played Guitar. Then we had Pat Doyle on guitar and vocals and he was joined by his daughter Sarah on vocals and base guitar, with again Michelle Haberlin on violin. TRULY BRILLIANT TALENT ALL AROUND!!

And then we were treated to a live performance of the song called “Palestine” which won an award, IT WAS written and performed by John Kavanagh. The song really puts things into perspective and reminded us all why we were there on the night, to help people who are suffering everyday simly because they were born Palestinian and are forced to live under a brutal inhumane siege and a terrorising occupation.

Please enjoy John singing “Palestine”

ENJOY OUR GALLERY OF PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT BELOW:

John Kavanagh performing "Palestine"

UPDATE: have not met the funding goal for the purchase of Ibrahim’s new electric wheelchair, please dont let him be disappointed, We are still short on funding to make this heppen, so we are asking people to step forward and donate so that Ibrahim is not disappointed.

PLEASE DONATE FOR IBRAHIM


Bank of Ireland
account# 45463260
Sort Code 90 49 74
Strand Road, Derry

Cheques can be sent:

Friends of Palestine
C/O Destined
45 Great James Street
Derry, BT48 7DF

“Dying to Live” Palestinian Prisoners Conference Great Success

Posted by on Sunday, 20 May, 2012

"Dying to Live" Palestinian Prisoner Conference-Belfast

On 19th May, over 70 people from across Irish society attended the first Palestinian Prisoners Conference held in Ireland. Representatives from the Legal field, activist groups, political groups and members of the general public were in attendance. Irish Friends of Palestine, in conjunction with our partners at UFREE Palestinian Prisoners Organisation, hosted the conference at St Mary’s University College in Belfast. The conference focused on the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and on the recent hungerstrike. This conference follows on the heels of the first International Palestinian Prisoners Conference in Gaza of which Irish Friends of Palestine participated in.

The event, the first of its kind, was organized by “UFree Network.” Ufree is an international organization that works to highlight the suffering of Palestinian political prisoners and to promote their rights internationally. The entire conference was filmed for broadcast in Palestine and the Arab world.

Mohammed Hamdan, the Chair of UFree, which is an independent European-wide human rights network; set up to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, along with UFree representative Khaled Almudallal both traveled to Ireland to attend and address the Irish participants. The Irish Conference follows UFree’s recent International Palestinain Prisoner Conference which was held inside Gaza for the first time. Irish Friends of Palestine was proud to have attended and participated in the Gaza conference in April.

Opening remarks of the conference were given by Sinead MacLochlainn the Founder of Irish Friends of Palestine, who outlined the days program and introduced Bik McFarlane the Key Note speaker.

Sinead MacLochlainn, Founder of Irish Friends of Palestine, outlines the conference program

Brendan “Bik” McFarlane is a former Irish political prisoner and he was the Officer Commanding in the Maze Prison during the 1981 Irish hunger strike in which 10 prisoners died, among them Bobby Sands. By 1993 Bik had become the longest serving prisoner in the H-Block Prison. He is now a member of Coiste na n-Iarchimí (“the Ex-Prisoners’ Committee”) – a welfare organisation for republican ex-prisoners. Bik recounted the 1981 Irish Hungerstrike related to the current hungerstrike inside Israeli jails.

Bik McFarlane discusses the hungerstrike

Chairing the discussion panel was Gerry MacLochlainn. Gerry is on the UFree political committee and is a former political prisoner himself, he is also co-founder of Irish Friends of Palestine. The fellow Irish panelists included former Political prisoner and hungerstriker, Mr Pat Sheehan who is now a Sinn Fein MLA. After Bobby Sands died on Hungerstrike Pat replaced him and remained on hungerstrike for 55 days, he was near death when the strike ended. Next we have author Danny Morrison, He is also the secretary of the Bobby Sands Trust and current chairman of Féile an Phobail.Next on the panel is Mary Nelis, a former MLA, mother of former hungerstriker. Mary organised the first community association in the Foyle Hill estate and helped spread community groups in other areas of the city of Derry. In 1976, she became active in the Relatives Action Committee: an organisation campaigning for prisoners’ rights and helped organise and lead the relatives committee during the 1981 hungerstrike. She was also active in the civil rights campaign. Mary was presented with the Paul O Dwyer Award by the IAUC for her work for peace and justice in Ireland, she is also an Irish Friends of Palestine supporter.

Panel: Danny Morrison, Nidal Abu Shikba, Mary Nelis, Mohammed Hamdan, Pat Sheehan MLA, Gerry MacLochlainn

The conference heard first hand about the plight and conditions of prisoners from panellist and former Palestinian prisoner Nidal Abu Shikba who traveled from the West Bank of Palestine to speak as part of the Panel.

Nidal Abu Shikba, former Palestinian Prisoner

We then went to our live link with Gaza where Ruairi McLaughlin introduced the Gaza Participants and handed over to our host in Gaza Mr Ahmed Al Najjar representing the Waed Palestinian Prisoners group in Gaza who spoke highly of the links between our two countries.

IFOP Member Ruairi McLaughlin initiates the live link with Gaza

Ahmed Abu Ayesh our Gazan host takes over link

He then introduced us to the next speaker Former Prisoner Ahmed Abu Taha who spoke live to the Irish audience from Gaza during a video conference. He delivered a rousing speech which saw the audience stomping, cheering and clapping! For those interested, you can read Abu Taha’s speech HERE.

Former Prisoner Ahmed Abu Taha speaking live from Gaza

Also from Gaza we heard a recorded video message from Former Prisoner Obada Bilal which you can view on THIS page.

Former Prisoner Obada Bilal from Gaza

We then heard from Pat Sheehan MLA and former hungerstriker. Pat’s personal and harrowing story of what it was like being on hungerstrike touched the hearts of everyone, it will never be forgotten.

Pat Sheehan MLA recounts his personal story of being on Hungerstrike while panel and audience listen  intently

Pat Sheehan MLA recounts his personal story of being on Hungerstrike while panel and audience listen intently

After each panel member spoke, the Chair then opened up the discussion to the audience participation section. Many members of the audience participated in the 45 minute Q & A session.

Gerry MacLochlainn Chairing the audience discussion

Cathal Og Donnelly participates in the audience discussions

Culminating from the successful conference, the panelists, consisting of former Palestinian and Irish political prisoners, demanded an end to Israel’s so-called “Administrative Detention” and the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Flowing from the conference we have issued a joint Declaration which we encourage support for throughout Ireland.

The following Declaration Statement was adopted between UFree and Irish Friends of Palestine:

Palestinian prisoners’ conference declaration statement

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Organisers: UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine

Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This represents approximately 20% of the total population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and 40% of all males. Despite prohibition by international law, Israel detains Palestinians in prisons throughout Israel; far from their families. The latter almost never obtain the necessary permits to visit their imprisoned relatives.

Since 1967, Israel has detained 10,000 Palestinian women. Women prisoners endure inhumane conditions including shackling during childbirth and an ongoing lack of gynecological care. Today, 37 female Palestinian prisoners continue to be held in Israeli prisons. Most are elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and, thus, are clearly political prisoners.

This Conference on the Plight of Palestinian Prisoners in Israel Prisons was convened by UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine on 19th May 2012. We have gathered in Belfast uniting elected representatives, former prisoners and prisoners’ relatives and human rights activists

We heard speeches from former Prisoners and Palestinian human rights activists of the conditions facing Palestinians in Israeli jails.

We learned of

• The detention of Palestinians for more than 5 years without trial.
• The widespread use of solitary confinement for many years at a time
• The denial of family visits for many years on end
• The imprisonment of Palestinian children and on occasions the use of these child prisoners as hostages to pressurise their families.
• Threats and practice of sexual harassment.
• Abduction of elected Palestinian parliamentarians

Conclusion

Conference concludes that the conditions facing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment and that such conditions breach numerous aspects of international law.

We pledge our support to UFree Network’s international campaign to highlight and challenge the abuse of Palestinian Prisoners human rights and the human rights of their families.

The conference decides to have a working group in cooperation between UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine which will be a broad based group in Ireland. From today, we shall be contacting potential members to join this group.

The group will work on the following:

1. To spread awareness about the issue of Palestinian prisoners
2. To exert political pressure on both the Israeli occupation and international governments.
3. To offer appropriate legal support and rehabilitation of former prisoners.

The group shall lobby Parliamentarians, human rights groups and civil society throughout Ireland, in particular to the Irish Government and other European Governments and the European Union, appealing for support for the following actions:

1. Israel should embrace and implement their obligations under International law by
2. Immediately implement the agreement reached with prisoners to end the hunger strike, including an end to solitary confinement and imprisonment without trial
3. The European governments and EU Parliament:
4. Launch and participate in an international solidarity campaign supporting the Rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.
5. Establish a European fact-finding mission to examine the living conditions of the prisoners in the Israeli jails.

The Irish Government in particular should:

• Organise its own fact finding mission to visit prisoners and their families to inform itself of conditions in Israeli prisons.
• Report back to Dail Eireann on the outcome of this fact finding mission.
• Take diplomatic action and sanctions against the Israeli government if it fails to honour international conventions and comply with the human rights’ standards in dealing with the prisoners.

PLEASE NOTE

A working group has been established between UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine which will be a broad based group in Ireland. In the near future Irish Friends of Palestine will begin contacting and requesting potential group members within Ireland who can contribute to the Palestinian prisoner’s project.