Ouders moslimstrijders in Syrië vragen maatregelen van overheid

Verschillende ouders van Belgen die strijden in Syrië vragen de overheid om dringend maatregelen te nemen. De ouders hebben een groep gevormd onder leiding van Dimitri Bontinck, de vader van Jejoen, en hielden donderdag een persconferentie. Voor het eerst sprak ook de moeder van Jejoen, al bleef ze volledig bedekt met zonnebril en sluier.
‘Jejoen kom naar huis alsjeblieft, wij houden van jou en je vriendin is zwanger van jouw kind’, smeekte de moeder van Jejoen, een vrouw van Nigeriaanse afkomst. Ze zat naast Dimitri Bontinck, die enkele ouders bij elkaar bracht in Brussel om er hun verhaal te doen en om de overheid te dwingen tot maatregelen.

‘Hoeveel westerse Belgische zonen moeten er nog sterven voor de regering en de zogenaamde task force echt iets ondernemen? ‘ vroeg vader Bontinck zich af. ‘Onze kinderen worden bestempeld als misdadigers maar ze zijn slachtoffers van radicale organisaties.’


Een van de aanwezige ouders was de moeder van Sammy (23), zelf een katholieke vrouw. Haar zoon heeft zich op vijftienjarige leeftijd bekeerd tot de islam. ‘Ik heb hem toen gezegd dat het zijn keuze was, maar zonder dat ik het wist is hij naar Syrië vertrokken.’ Hij laat soms weten via de telefoon dat het goed gaat met hem, maar meer informatie heeft de vrouw niet.

Een buur en vriend van Sammy, ook een Brusselse Belg, is overleden als martelaar in Syrië. ‘Ik weet zelfs niet waar hij begraven ligt’, vertelde zijn vader. ‘De jongeren daar moeten geholpen worden voor met hen hetzelfde gebeurt als met mijn zoon.’

De schuld van de radicalisering van de westerse jongeren ligt volledig bij Sharia4Belgium, aldus de ouders. ‘Het is schandalig dat die organisatie nog niet verboden werd door de overheid’, klonk het.

(Source / 30.05.2013)

Syrian opposition to boycott Geneva talks

Syrian National Coalition says it will not take part in planned summit until siege of Qusayr ends.



Syria’s opposition will not participate in proposed international peace talks in Geneva next month, its leader has said.

George Sabra, the head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), on Thursday said the opposition was suspending their participation until the international community intervened to end the siege in Qusayr, a town in Homs province near the Lebanese border.


“The National Coalition will not take part in any international conference or any such efforts so long as the militias of Iran and Hezbollah continue their invasion of Syria,” Sabra told reporters in Istanbul.

Khaled Saleh, the SNC spokesperson, who addressed the news conference after Sabra, said civilians in the town had been “severely wounded” and Qusayr had been completely cut off by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

“Civilians have no access to water, electricity and the massacre continues minute by minute while the Assad regime continues to use weapons” it receives from allies, he said.

He said the UN and Arab League should intervene to stop the killings that the Lebanese group “Hezbollah is responsible for”.

The planned peace talks in Geneva are being arranged by Russia – a Syria ally – and the United States. The SNC had said earlier it would take part only if a peace process that led to Bashar al-Assad stepping down is put in place.

Russian missile

SNC’s announcement to boycott the talks came only hours after Assad said his country would respond to any Israeli attack on its soil.

In an interview to be aired on Thursday by Al-Manar TV station, owned by Hezbollah, Assad also said he had already received the first shipment of an advanced S-300 Russian missile system and would soon get the rest.

Gerald Steinburg, a professor of Political Studies at Bar-ilan University, told Al Jazeera that Israel was paying attention “closely” to what was happening in Syria.The comments were first published on Thursday by the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar  which got excerpts of the interview.

“Syria has received the first shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S-300 rockets,” al-Akhbar quoted Assad as saying. “The rest of the shipment will arrive soon.”

Israel has suggested its military might strike the Russian S-300 missiles.

(Source / 30.05.2013)

International parties have hidden agenda to destroy Syria – Hamas leader

First came confirmation that the interview was on. We flew to the Qatari city of Doha. And waited…And waited…
Then we were given a day, then two hours notice – a location.

That is an area of the city and a time. No address – just initial directions to the general area.

We proceeded junction to junction; roundabout to roundabout, stopping to receive new directions at each way point.
A Mossad injection 15 years ago very nearly killed the man we were going to see. Three years ago another top Hamas official was assassinated in a Dubai hotel room by a group of Mossad agents dressed up as tennis-playing tourists on faked passports – including British ones.

So the Palestinian group Hamas, do not take chances. Elected to power in Gaza over, yet deemed “a terrorist organisation” by the US and the EU, Hamas remains committed to denying Israel’s right to exist and resisting Israel by force of arms.

30 syria2 w copy1 International parties have hidden agenda to destroy Syria   Hamas leader

We arrived at a villa after several calls for the next stage of directions. “So who owns this place then?”

“It is owned by a man,” came the reply from the genial man in charge of welcoming us to this safe house.

Several times the producer would ask the question, several times, exactly the same smiling reply. We hand in our mobile phones. We walk through an airport-style scanner. The film equipment is carefully, intimately, searched. Then tea, cakes, sweets and we wait.

Finally, the courtyard doors open again and Khaled Meshaal emerges from a 4×4 with guards. The boss of Hamas is with us.

Neatly trimmed beard, soft-spoken with a ready smile, careful to greet all our team and both cameramen with handshakes. Scrupulous not to neglect or ignore anybody in the room. The guards take up postions by the door and outside. Open- necked shirt, neat, dark jacket: the technocrat, fixer, pragmatist, very much intended look.

I start with Syria.

Hamas left Damascus in January last year, for Doha. Goodbye to his longtime friend and ally President Bashar al-Assad:

“The military approach is wrong. It makes the crisis worse. It doesn’t solve anything,” he explains, “it only makes it more complicated. What we are witnessing today proves our advice was right.”

So advice to Assad to seek a political solution when it looked feasible. And now Hamas denies the accusations that it is supporting rebel Syrian groups like the Free Syrian Army:

“We do not interfere in Syrian internal affairs nor do we interfere in the Syrian Crisis and this is our policy towards the Arab Spring and all other Arab and non-Arab countries in the World.”

“So when the British government wants to arm Syrian rebels they’re making a mistake?” I ask.

“Hamas policy is against any foreign intervention in our countries.This is our general principle. But at the same time we support the rights of people to freedom, democracy and reform and we are against the use of force and violence, massacres, and military options against them. We support people to win their rights, but we are against foreign intervention.

The international community has been talking about this for months and I think there is a kind of deception going on, and that there is a hidden agenda from many international parties to prolong the Syrian crisis and destroy Syria. These parties do not want to see recovery for Syria…they use positive slogans but in reality their attitude identifies with the Israeli agenda of destroying Syria, more death, and prolonging the Syrian crisis.”

“In moving to Doha you are sending a clear message to Assad that he should go?”

“No no, this is not what we meant. We, as the leadership of Hamas, had to leave Damascus the moment we felt that our efforts to convince the Syrian leadership to choose a solution other than the military one failed. On the other hand, the Syrian leadership was not happy with Hamas’ political stance and also, I felt they wanted to put pressure or demand on us to stand by the official Syrian position and support the leadership in their military solution to the Syrian issue … this is why we did not feel then I could stay, so we left – circumstances forced itself on us, but if Assad goes or stays, that’s up to the Syrian people not to us.”

“But you moved to Qatar,” I say, “which more than any other supports the rebels in Syria. You’ve betrayed a great friend in bashar al-Assad and betrayed Iran.”

“I explained to you why we left and this not a betrayal of any one We did not mean to anger any party by our political position, we just stuck to our principles.”

But it’s clear the move has been difficult. Relations with Syria are strained to put it mildly. Qatar has long been the key sponsor of the uprising in Syria. The Emir recently visited Gaza, and as we speak Qatari money is rebuilding the ruins of Israeli bombing back in Gaza.

And then Israel itself.

Bizarrely Hamas and Israel may even find themselves close to being on the same side over Syria. Israel bombs, Hamas leaves Damascus and seeks refuge in the coutry supporting the rebels. How deep is the rift with Assad? If profound, then on the basis that my enemy’s enemy is my friend Hamas could be uncomfortably close to The Zionist Entity as they would have it:

“If you use this kind of description,” says Mr Meshal, “how can you explain the Israeli assault against us in Gaza months ago?

The aggression that killed our great leader Ahmad Al-Jaabary after we left Syria. Israel looks after its own interest and has its own policy of assault no matter which country it’s assaulting, if it’s Lebanon or Syria or any other country in the World. Israel is our enemy.”

So does Hamas continue with its position of stating that Israel clearly exists de facto but has no legitimacy to exist in law?

“I am surprised that the world keeps concentrating on the recognition of Israel and its right to exist, while it is an existing state on the ground, occupying the land and expelling its people while practising all manner of killings, aggression and terror. In all civil and religious laws in the world, there is no legitimacy to any one who establishes themselves by means of violation and the seizure of land and the rights of others. Does the international community accept this equation?”

“So yes or no? Does Israel have the right to exist Mr Meshal?”

“You ask your question your way, so let me answer you in my way. I’m telling you, we are the real owners of the land. We have the right to live freely without occupation, settlements, aggression, prisons and Jewishisation of the land.The law I believe in and I think it’s the same for every human being in the world, not only the Arabs and all Muslims is that there is no legitimacy or future for occupation or aggression.”

I wondered if there were any circumstances in which he could conceive of shaking hands with the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu?

“Although the question is legitimate, how can I have peace with a killer like Netanyahu. Think logically. I am the Palestinian victim, my land is occupied, and my people are displaced. Netanyahu is waging war against my own people, and denies my rights, so why would the world expect me to shake his hand in the future? There was a historical handshake between Rabin and Arafat, God bless his soul, in the White House Garden when they signed Camp David Agreement, but what was the result? This hand, Arafat’s, the hand that shook Rabin’s hand was poisoned and killed by Rabin’s followers after that.”

He accuses Israel of somehow relishing concessions from Arabs in the Middle East for their own sake and here the historical self-image of Hamas is tellingly revealed:

“It’s a kind of sadism because it enjoys and relishes the Arab concessions. This is why the only answer to this situation is to take a rigid stance.

You are in Britain and you are a respectable TV station. Why are the British proud of Churchill when he was dealing with Nazism when they occupied France and bombed Britain? Why did De Gaulle call for resistance to the German occupation of France from London? Why did he become a hero instead being criticised because of his lack of flexibility?”

With that, he takes his leave in a leisurely fashion. There are more talks with others in side the house before the guard shepherd him into the 4×4 and he leaves the house “owned by a man” and we can now retrieve our mobile phones and, after a suitable time has elapsed, leave the villa as well.

(Source /30.05.2013)

G4S’s dirty secret: Al-Jalame Prison

Al Jalame has come to be known as Israel’s children’s dungeon with its infamous cell 36 of which so many children have testified about. Deep inside Al Jalame prison, three floors below the surface are located tiny childrens cells, black holes, where Palestinian children as young as 12 years old are caged in solitary confinement, some for 65 days. In a Guardian interview two children described cell 36: “The cell is 2m long by 1m wide, its as big as a mattress, without the toilet. You put down the mattress and in front is the toilet.. There is no window.. the air chokes you.”. The room is barely wider than the thin dirty mattress which covers the floor. Its a very thin mattress, only 5cm thick. The yellow light is kept on 24 hours a day to inhibit sleeping whilst the walls have sharp protrusions preventing the child from leaning against them for support. The delivery of food through a locked flap in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night. The breakfast tray is dropped through the flap in the door 30cm from the floor at 4am. If the tray isn’t caught in time the food will spill on the floor and the child will be punished if he doesn’t finish the food. Where the mattress finishes is a low concrete wall behind which is a hole in the ground toilet. The stench from the toilet has no escape in the windowless room.

The only escape the children have from this cage is the interrogation room where the children, shackled by hands and feet, are abused by Israeli secret police for over 6 hours at a time, until they confess, usually to throwing a stone which carries a penalty of up to 20 years. The children described the grueling 6 hour interrogation sessions: “On the ground is an iron ring, he puts the cuffs through it with your hands locked on either side. he cuffs your ankles to the chair legs.. You cannot move.. like a statue. They said they would arrest my father and mother and bring them here if I didn’t confess. They said “You are forcing us to bring them here, understand that I have the state of Israel behind me, behind you is nothing.” Children have testified to being sexually assaulted by the interrogators and threatened with sodomy with an object in order to coerce a confession at Ofer prison which is also secured by G4S. During interrogation at time of arrest before entering the facility children have testified to Israeli soldiers using attack dogs. One boy described how after being shackled so he couldn’t move, dog food was placed on his head and the attack dog unleashed to eat off his head, he described his fear as the dogs saliva dripped down his face. They then placed dog food near the boys genitals..

(Facebook / 30.05.2013)

Een wijze jonge moslim

By Marianna Laarif

Vele jaren geleden, gedurende het tijdperk van de Tâbi´ien -de generatie moslims van na de sahâbah (metgezellen)-, behoorde Bagdad tot de voornaamste steden van de islam. Feitelijk was het de hoofdstad van het islamitische rijk en vanwege het grote aantal geleerden dat daar resideerde, was Bagdad het centrum van islamitische kennis.

Op een dag zond de toenmalige heerser van Rome een afgezant naar Bagdad met drie tartende vragen voor de moslims. Toen de boodschapper bij de stad aankwam, bracht hij de kalief op de hoogte dat hij drie vragen bij zich droeg waarmee hij de moslims uit moest dagen.

De kalief ontbood alle geleerden van de stad in zijn paleis en de Romeinse boodschapper klom er op een hoog podium en zei: “Ik ben gekomen met drie vragen. Als u ze beantwoordt, dan zal ik weg gaan, voor u een grote hoeveelheid rijkdom achterlatend die ik met me mee heb gebracht van de keizer van Rome. Wat de vragen betreft, dat zijn: “Wat was er voordat God er was?” “Tot welke richting wendt God zich?” “Waar is God op dit moment mee bezig?””.

De grote groep mensen was muisstil (Zou u een antwoord kunnen bedenken op deze vragen?) Temidden van deze schare van briljante geleerden en studenten stond er een man toe te kijken met zijn zoontje. “Oh mijn beste vader! Ik zal hem beantwoorden en hem het zwijgen opleggen!”, zei de jongen. Dus vroeg de jongen toestemming aan de kalief om op de vragen in te gaan. Zijn verzoek werd ingewilligd.

De Romein richtte zich tot de jonge moslim en herhaalde de eerste vraag: “Wat was er voordat God bestond?”

De jongen vroeg: “Kunt u tellen?”

“Ja”, zei de man.

”Tel dan eens van tien terug!”. Dus de Romein telde terug “tien, negen, acht…” Totdat hij bij “één” uitkwam. Toen
stopte hij met tellen.

“Maar wat komt er voor “één”?, vroeg de jongen.

“Er is niets voor de één- zo zit dat!”, zei de man.

“Tsja, als er klaarblijkelijk niets voor het rekenkundige “één” is, hoe kunt u dan verwachten dat er iets bestaat voor de “Ene” die de Absolute Waarheid is, de Eeuwige, Eeuwigdurende, de Eerste, de Laatste, de Zichtbare, de Verborgene?”, zei de jongen.

De man was zichtbaar verbaasd door dit directe antwoord, waar hij niets tegenin kon brengen. Dus vroeg hij: “Vertel me dan tot welke richting God zich wendt”

“Breng een kaars en steek hem aan”, zei de jongen, “en vertel me welke richting de vlam opgaat”.

“Maar de vlam is gewoon licht- het verspreidt zich naar alle vier richtingen, het noorden, zuiden, oosten en westen. Het gaat niet slechts een kant op”, zei de man verwonderd.

De jongen riep uit: “Als dit tasbare licht zich in alle vier richtingen verspreidt waardoor u me niet kan vertellen welke kant het opgaat, wat verwacht u dan van de noer al-samawaat wa-l-ard: God- het licht van de hemelen en de aarde!? Licht op Licht; God richt zich tot alle richtingen op hetzelfde moment”.

De Romein was stomverbaasd dat er hier een kind aanwezig was die zijn uitdagende vragen beantwoordde op zo een manier dat hij de bewijzen niet kon weerleggen. Dus- de wanhoop nabij- zocht hij zijn toevlucht tot de laatste vraag. Maar voordat hij hier kans toe kreeg, zei de jongen: “Wacht! U bent degene die de vragen stelt en ik degene die uw uitdagende vragen beantwoordt. Het is meer dan redelijk dat u van het podium afkomt en u zich hier waar ik mij bevind, begeeft en dat ik op het podium klim en de plek waar u nu bent inneem, zodat de antwoorden door een ieder goed gehoord kunnen worden”.

Dit vond de Romein een redelijk voorstel, dus verliet hij de plek waar hij stond en klom de jongen het podium op. Toen herhaalde de man zijn laatste vraag: ”Vertel me, waar is God op dit moment mee bezig?”

De jongen zei triomfantelijk: “Op dit moment dat wij spreken, toen God op dit hoge podium een leugenaar en bespotter van de islam aantrof, liet Hij hem naar beneden gaan en vernederde Hij hem. En wat degene betreft die in Gods eenheid gelooft, deze hief Hij op en Hij vestigde de waarheid. Hij beoefent iedere dag universele macht (Koran 55: 29).

De Romein had niets meer te zeggen behalve dat hij weer weg moest naar zijn land, terneergeslagen. In de jaren daarop groeide deze jongen op om een van de meest beroemde geleerden van de islam te worden. God de Verhevene zegende hem met wijsheid en kennis van de religie. Zijn naam was Abu Hanifah (moge God genadig met hem
zijn) en vandaag de dag staat hij bekend als al-imam al-a’zam, de grote imam en geleerde van de islam en de stichter van de hanafi-school. Moge God iets van Zijn genade op dezelfde wijze schenken aan onze moslimkinderen die vandaag de dag opgroeien. Amien.

Geschreven door imam Muwaffaq ibn Ahmad al-Makki, in de zesde islamitische eeuw (dertiende eeuw A.D.).

Fundraiser in NYC for ‘Palestinian House of Friendship’ to support creative approaches to non-violent resistance

I traveled to Palestine last October with a group tour arranged by the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, a Palestinian tour agency. We visited the town of Aseira to meet the people there and to take part in an olive harvest. While there our group met with Mohammed Sawalha.

Mohammed is a professor of linguistics at Al-Najah University, and is the founder and director of the Palestinian House of Friendship (PHF) in Nablus. He gave a fascinating and authoritative talk on current conditions in Palestine and the work of the Palestinian House of Friendship.

The PHF engages in human rights and democracy education, and leads local election monitoring efforts. A primary goal of PHF is to develop critical thinking skills required for democracy, through investing in the personal development of each individual.

Smiling Faces summer camps and cultural heritage festivals engage children from Nablus in dance and visual arts rooted in Palestinian traditions. Children are provided access to computers, are offered tutoring and attend English classes. Participants, staff, and volunteers reflect the diversity of economic conditions and political affiliations of the region. The PHF also sponsors a marathon for hundreds of boys and girls in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth.

Opportunities for expression and creative collaboration provide youth with a sense of hope in their own futures, and alternatives that make them less vulnerable to potentially destructive and extremist influences in their societies. Creative projects facilitate platforms for conversation among people of different political persuasions, urban and rural dwellers, and people living in the city and those in refugee camps.

Mohammed will be visiting Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York, from May 23rd to June 10th raising funds for these vital programs for the children of Nablus. The American Friends of PHF is presenting a benefit event in Brooklyn on June 6, co-sponsored by the Brooklyn Ethical Society’s Action Committee and Brooklyn for Peace.


(Source / 30.05.2013)

Palestinian Leader Passes Away After Life Of Struggle


Abdul-Aziz (Abu Ali) Sahin

On Tuesday at dawn, May 28 2013, senior Fateh leader, a leader who fought the occupation and fought injustice and corruption, Abdul-Aziz Sahin (Abu Ali Shahin), 80, passed away at a hospital in Gaza, due to complication resulting from a liver disease.

He was receiving treatment in the Gaza Strip after he returned to the coastal region at the beginning of this year when the Fateh movement was celebrating its anniversary on January 1, and decided to stay there.

He was moved to Egypt due to his deteriorating health condition, his body was not responding to treatment, and he asked his sons to move him back to Gaza, to be buried there. He was then moved to the al-Shifa medical center in Gaza where he died a few hours later.

Shahin said that he wanted to die in Palestine, in the country of his people who fight for liberation and independence, to hug the soil of his country.

He comes from a Palestinian family from the Basheet village, near Ramla in historic Palestine. His father was killed by Israeli army fire when he led a resistance faction to fight against the ‘Israel’. Five of his uncles were killed by Israeli fire in in the period between 1956 and 1967.

He was kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel for 15 years, including 12 years in solitary confinement. After his release in the early eighties, he formed the Fateh Youth Group, a political bloc in Palestinian universities and colleges.

Abu Ali was kidnaped again, and in 1986 he was forced into exile when he was sent to Jordan, from there he went to Tunis, and joined up with Khalil Al-Wazeer (Abu Jihad) who was assassinated by Israeli commandos.

In the 1990’s, he moved to Egypt amidst tension between the Fateh movement and Hamas over political talks held by Fateh with Israel.

He opposed the Oslo Agreements between the PLO and Tel Aviv, and when he went back to Gaza he was elected as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council during the 1996 election, the first election since the Palestinian Authority was established; Hamas did not participate.

In July 1998, he held a sit-in protest at an Israeli roadblock between Rafah and Gaza city, sparking a movement of sit-in protests blocking roads that led to illegal Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

He fought corruption in the Palestinian Authority, and in 1997, he organized mass resignations of Palestinian Authority ministers.

In late September 2000, the second Intifada started (The Al-Aqsa Intifada) after former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, accompanied by his armed guards, conducted a provocative ‘visit’ to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

In January of 2002, the Israeli army bombarded his home in Gaza.

In 2002, Abu Ali became the representative of Fateh movement in the National and Islamic Movements Committee, that was tasked with following up on Palestinian affairs during the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

He resigned later after blaming the Hamas leadership in exile of vetoing a draft agreement between the factions.

(Source / 30.05.2013)

Boy, 11, shot in face in al-Khader clashes

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot an 11-year-old boy in the face with a plastic-coated bullet on Thursday during clashes in al-Khader south of Bethlehem, locals said.

Basel Issa was taken to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital for treatment.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said around 30 Palestinians were throwing rocks at soldiers in al-Khader. Soldiers responded with riot dispersal means, she told Ma’an, adding that she was not familiar with any injuries.

(Source / 30.05.2013)

Palestinian Refugees Flee Syria to Find Poor Conditions in Lebanese Camps

Gaza,(DRAH.ps)– As Syria’s civil war has increasingly encroached on Damascus and its environs in the past six months, tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in and around the capital have found their lives once more uprooted by conflict.

According to the United Nations, more than 56,000 Palestinians living in Syria, mostly from the Damascus region, have fled into neighboring Lebanon, joining nearly half a million Syrian refugees as well as an already established Palestinian refugee community estimated to be between 260,000 and 400,000 strong.

Already overcrowded, the dismal Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in South Beirut is receiving some of the inflow. Established in 1948 to shelter the initial wave of Palestinians displaced by the creation of the state of Israel, the camp is now home to tens of thousands packed into a slum measuring about one square kilometer, or a third of a square mile.

Along the camp’s main street, one of the few wide enough for cars to pass, armed guards laze in front of faction buildings. From there, a twisting labyrinth of narrow alleyways lead into the heart of the camp. Puddles of sewage slush underfoot and overhead, tangled electricity cables hang so low that pedestrians must duck to avoid them.

During Lebanon’s brutal civil war, from 1975 to 1990, Beirut’s refugee camps became at times major battlefields. Many of Burj al-Barajneh’s buildings still bear the scars of bullets and shells.

With no room to expand the camp as its population grows, flimsily constructed floors have been added on top of older buildings, keeping some alleyways permanently shrouded in darkness.

A stark message, “2013 is the year of death” is spray-painted on a wall at the edge of the camp.

“The only open space we have in the camp is where we bury our dead,” said Ahmed Mustafa, a representative of a council of Palestinian factions that manages the camps in Lebanon.

“The situation in the camps is so overcrowded,” said Ann Dismorr, the highest representative in Lebanon for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the agency that handles the affairs of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. “It was before, and now the total Palestinian refugee population has increased by 20 percent in a few months.”

“In the early days, we had Palestinians from Syria returning when they saw the conditions in the camps,” Mrs. Dismorr said in an interview this month.

But as the fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces intensified in Damascus, the Palestinians found themselves caught in the middle.

“We are being tortured by both sides,” said Mahmoud Hamide, a 39-year-old refugee from Yarmouk, Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, several kilometers south of central Damascus.

One night in December, Mr. Hamide said, his wife Leenda Habbash, 35, was washing dishes in their small home, a rooftop apartment constructed of concrete blocks. Free Syrian Army units had taken up positions inside the camp and government forces were shelling the area. “We could not sleep at the time because of the heavy clashes and shelling,” he said.

At about 11 P.M., a shell came through the roof of the apartment, exploding in a room where their nine-month-old son, Ahmed, was asleep. The wall next to the baby collapsed and killed him. Mr. Hamide and his wife were wounded.

“My wife was in the hospital and kept asking about the baby,” Mr. Hamide said. “I kept telling her that the baby was fine and nothing happened.”

When Mr. Hamide’s wife eventually found out what had happened to their son, she was devastated. From the hospital, they fled to a village that had not yet been hit by violence and then across the border to Lebanon. Now, they live with eight other people in a cramped, moldy room in Burj al-Barajneh.

Shrapnel from the shell that killed his son cut through Mr. Hamide’s right hand, damaging the nerves. Like many men in the camp, he tries to make a living as a manual laborer but work is scarce and the injury has gotten in the way.

The family’s life now is very different from the one they had before.

“Yarmouk camp in Syria used to be like Hamra Street in Lebanon,” said Mrs. Habbash, referring to one of Beirut’s main thoroughfares known for its shops and cafes. “It was a city, not a camp.”

“But what can you do? This is our destiny and this is our luck.”

Others echo these sentiments: “Out of Palestinians living in camps in other Arab countries, we were the happiest,” said Majida al-Mahmoud Husseini, another refugee from Yarmouk. “We had an extremely good life before the war.”

Few Palestinians in Lebanon speak positively about conditions here. Relations between the Lebanese and Palestinian refugees have always been uneasy at best. Palestinian militias played a major role in the country’s civil war, a participation that led many Lebanese to view the community with disdain.

The legal rights of Palestinians are severely restricted in Lebanon. They are barred from most skilled professions and not allowed to own land. There is a widespread fear among many Lebanese that granting Palestinians greater rights could serve as a stepping stone towards naturalization, which could disrupt the country’s precariously balanced system of sectarian politics.

The disadvantaged situation of Palestinians in Lebanon has kept large numbers trapped in dire poverty.

Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps have also long been a battlefield for domestic and foreign groups looking to wield influence. A short walk through many camps will pass posters for the militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah; Palestinian jihadi groups like the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade; has-been communist parties; President Bashar al-Assad of Syria; Saad Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon; and many others. In some camps there are regular bouts of violence between the dizzying numbers of factions operating in them. With little else to do, young men join the militias.

The harshness of camp life means that many Palestinians who have arrived from Syria will return once the war ends, Mrs. Dismorr said.

“We believe that they want to return when the crisis is over — they have a very different set of rights and living standards in Syria,” she said.

But for now, the number of refugees is growing, and aid is the first priority.

Outside the umbrella of the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Palestinians arriving from Syria rely on aid from nongovernmental organizations, UNRWA and local factions. Long hobbled by shortages, UNRWA is providing some small cash payments to refugees for rent and expenses, but the organization can only afford such payments every several months.

As the Syrian war swells the ranks of the Middle East’s displaced people, Mrs. Dismorr urged that Palestinians caught in the conflict not be forgotten.

“We must not allow the Palestinians to yet again be marginalized and fall into the shadow,” she said.

(Source / 30.05.2013)

De deportatiemachine: en zwijgen zal je.

De alarmmeldingen stromen binnen bij de werkgroep Deportatieverzet. Het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie ontdoet zich in rap tempo van diegenen die een tipje van de sluier oplichten over wat zich binnen de detentiecentra allemaal afspeelt. En en passant ook nog van wat anderen. “De doofpot vóór alles,” lijkt het motto van het ministerie te zijn. En tot iedere prijs.

Eerder al werden meneer S.,  meneer F. en meneer Ghafurigedeporteerd, terwijl ze alle drie in honger- of dorststaking waren en in extreem slechte toestand verkeerden. Om de laatste twee deportaties toch mogelijk te maken huurde het ministerie artsen in, die zonder medisch onderzoek of inzage in hun dossier beiden ‘fit to fly’ verklaarden.

Aanstaande dinsdag, 4 juni, wil de DT&V Issa K. het zwijgen opleggen door hem te deporteren. Ook Issa is al geruime tijd in dorststaking en is er slecht aan toe. Via Nieuwsuur was het hem gelukt om de deal tussen het ministerie, de Guinese ambassade en de Guinese Taskforce naar buiten te brengen. Nieuwsuur ging op onderzoek en ontdekte dat daar een fors budget en dubieuze reisdocumenten mee gemoeid waren.

Maar zij zijn niet de enigen; de deportatiemachine draait nietsontziend op volle gang. Behalve de klokkenluiders, moeten ook hele gezinnen en alleenstaande tieners het veld ruimen.Nabid en Yasir worden beiden uitgezet naar Afghanistan, op zaterdag 1 juni en maandag 3 juni.

Kennelijk heeft het ministerie ook een lucratieve deal kunnen sluiten met het ministerie van Vreemdelingenzaken in Kabul, want behalve Nabid en Yasir worden er bijzonder veel vluchtelingen gedeporteerd naar Afghanistan op het moment, ondanks het feit dat de Afghaanse ambassade expliciet geen reisdocumenten verstrekt aan vluchtelingen die niet terug durven naar Afghanistan.

Op maandag 3 juni staat ook N. op de deportatielijst: hij moet terug naar Libië.

Maar deportatie is verre van de enige manier die het ministerie toepast om krampachtig te voorkomen dat er informatie naar buiten komt.

Nog steeds worden vluchtelingen die contact met buiten hebben in isoleercellen gestopt, volgens de berichten van vanochtend zelfs alle Afghaanse vluchtelingen van een afdeling in detentiecentrum Rotterdam in één keer. Tegen Yasir werd ook gezegd dat hij ‘geen contact meer met de mensen buiten’ mocht hebben.

Meneer Bah bleef informatie doorgeven, ondanks het feit dat hij twee keer zwaar mishandeld werd door de bewaking.

De pers wordt bestookt met onjuiste berichten vanuit het ministerie, de vertrouwensarts wordt het werken onmogelijk gemaakt. Steeds komen er nieuwe voorwaarden bij waaraan voldaan moet worden voordat ze haar patiënten kan bezoeken.

Was de oorspronkelijke modus operandi dat iemand het slechts hoefde aan te geven een arts van zijn keuze te willen zien, op dit moment moet die kennisgeving schriftelijk, met de naam van de arts erbij, bevestigd door een fax van de advocaat en per dag herhaald worden en mag de arts alleen nog maar tijdens de beperkte bezoektijden naar binnen, terwijl volgens het protocol voor advocaten en medici geldt dat ze ten allen tijde toegang hebben. Ook werd de vertrouwensarts gedwongen een verklaring te ondertekenen waarin ze moest beloven ‘niets naar buiten bekend te maken’.

We herhalen het nog maar eens: het is Teeven er kennelijk veel aangelegen om niets, maar dan ook niets, naar buiten te laten komen.


(Source / 30.05.2013)