Right of Return Conference

June 20th marked this year’s World Refugee Day. CEPAL participated in this event by holding a conference to spread awareness on the Palestinian Right of Return. The conference was co-hosted with SPHR-Ottawa (Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights) .  CEPAL and SPHR’s goal was to generate a better understanding within the Ottawa community of the challenges facing Palestinians refuges barred from re-entering Palestine.

The Palestinian Right of Return refers to the legal and moral right for        Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their homeland. This is an often overlooked issue in the on-going Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and one that is of utmost importance.

The conference began with  a “Right of Return 101” workshop presented by Samah Sabawi. Ms. Sabawi’s workshop gave an in-depth overview of the history of the Palestinian conflict. The presentation focused on the legal and moral issues surrounding Palestinian refugees’ right to return to Palestine. Ms. Sabawi also screened a documentary outlining the issues of forming a government for Palestinians within the occupied territories.

There were two guest speakers featured in the conference, including CEPAL’s Shauna Trainor. Ms. Trainor presented her experiences as a volunteer within the Bourj al-Barajneh camp in Lebanon in 2006. She explained many of the hardships faced by the inhabitants of the camp and offered an interesting insight into the experiences of international volunteers. The other speaker was Mr. Monzer Zimmo, a Palestinian refugee and respected  member of the Ottawa Palestinian  community. He focused his lecture on the realities of Palestinian community within and outside of the occupied  territories, as well as shared some of his personal experiences as a refugee. His passion and knowledge pertaining to Palestine and the Palestinian Right of Return was inspirational. It was a sincere pleasure to listen and learn from Monzer Zimmo.

Beats for Palestine

On June 4th, CEPAL launched the first of what we hope to make an annual benefit and Palestinian solidarity concert in Montreal, Beats for Palestine, in partnership with Project Hope.  Spoken-word artist Remi Kanazi, reggae master Mark Mahoney (aka Jah Faith), and hip-hop up-and-comers KinZ joined forces at Le Petit Campus to make the evening a promising success.  Project Hope offers a similar educational exchange to    CEPAL’s in Nablus, in the West Bank. For more information about Project Hope, visit www.projecthope.ps.  Samples of the artists’ work can be found on MySpace and YouTube.

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