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The Palestinian Student Movement (Source AIC)

Mardi, 19 avril 2011 - 7h24 AM

Tuesday 19 April 2011


Marta Fortunato for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

The AIC spoke with the unity protestors in Bethlehem’s Manger Square. The youth movement has been camped in the spot since 15 March. Though numbers are growing smaller they remain hopeful that their message will be heard.

"We invite people to join the demonstration on Manarah Square (Ramallah) @ 2pm calling for respect of collective and personal rights and freedoms (organized by the PNGO, the Palestinian non-Government Organizations Network)," says the most recent post in the Sawt al-Manara Facebook page.

The photo attached to the account says "Always in Hope", the message that the founders of this page desire to spread.

Sawt al-Manara is just one of the numerous internet pages started after the 15th of March movement in Palestine. Since that date, the internet has represented an important tool of communication and coordination of strikes and demonstrations all around the West Bank and Gaza.

If you read past posts on the Sawt al-Manara Facebook page you will find an informal and satisfying summary of the main Palestinian facts of the last month from the students movement of the 15th of March, to the demonstrations during land day, from the hunger strikes of prisoners in Israeli jails, to the latest events in the Gaza strip.

From this website it is possible to reach other links dealing with the same subject. The blog Falasteen Lana (Palestine for us), and a page in both Arabic and English, contains the statement of principles which constitute the basis of the 15th March protests: national unity, reconciliation, end of divisions between Hamas and Fatah, the illegitimacy of imprisoning people based on their political believes and the establishment of new electoral prodedures that guarantee equal represenation of Palestinians all around theworld.

The statement ends claiming that “the March 15th movement is by the people for the people and is independent of any political party or institutional backing. It was organized by non-partisans youth groups who dream of a better future for their people”.

Palestinian youth Movement (15 March) is another Facebook page created one month ago by young people, and has now been joined by more than a thousand people.

One of the administrators of this page is Tarek Zboun, a 22-year-old from Bethlehem, who for the last month has been living in the Bethlehem’s Unity Tent in Manger Square.

Tarek told to the AIC that the number of people sleeping in the tent is decreasing day by day. “In the days that followed the demonstrations of the 15th of March, there were around 50 people sleeping in the tent, but now we are between three and ten.”

The young people living in the tent are either students or workers who go out in the morning and meet again in the evening. “It’s not easy life, it’s tiring”, another young protester affirms.

Tarek said that “at the beginning many people were interested in this movement and we managed to talk with a lot of Palestinians about our project; even some Palestinian girls visited the tent, spent time with us and were interested in talking about politics and in proposing new ideas. But as soon as their family discovered it, the girls were prevented from coming to the square once again. The main problem we are facing deals with the fact that Palestinian people in Bethlehem don’t believe in our project and the fragmentation between Palestinian political parties is stronger than our project of unity.”

“At the same time it’s surprising that the number of foreigners visiting our tent is much higher than the number of Palestinians,” Tarek added.

In fact if you pass through Manger Square, there are regularly tourists or international activists talking with the young protesters and taking photos of the tent.

“We are happy that such a large number of foreigners are coming and visit us. It’s always interesting to talk with people, but our aim is different. We would like to speak with Palestinians,” Tarek told the AIC.

He concluded saying that “even students at university are more concerned in their own political views than in our project of unity.”

And he is right. Only one of the tent participants, Mohammad, is studying at university and sleeping in the tent. There aren’t any other connections. On Wednesday, at Bethlehem University there were elections for the Student Council and the two main political blocs have been busy in preparing their programmes and their political campaign.