Kicking off International Human Rights Week 2017, Palestinian Refugees on the North America Nakba Tour visited Chattanooga to share their stories and help raise awareness about the current global refugee crisis. "The Exiled Palestinians" featured the personal stories of stateless Palestinians from the refugee camps in Lebanon.
Khawla Hammad has been a stateless refugee in Lebanon for 69 years. At the age of 16, she was expelled from her village of Kabri, in Palestine. Now she is 84 years old and still a refugee in Lebanon, with no citizenship in any country at all.
Joining her was 23-year-old Palestinian refugee, journalist and translator Amena Elashkar, the great-granddaughter of other Nakba survivors. She and her parents were born as stateless refugees in Lebanon and have never lived in their own country.
Ms. Elashkar said, "We are hopeful. It is not simply a dream for us to return to our homeland one day. We know that one day we will return home and once again we will live in peaceful co-existence with the Jews there just like we did before the Nakba or 'Great Catastrophe' in 1948 when we were forced away from our homes."
Gandhi Global Center For Peace Co-Founder Missy Crutchfield said, "The work for nonviolent revolution in Israel-Palestine, Egypt, and across the Middle East is the final frontier of civil and human rights. And Palestine specifically has become a metaphor for ending global occupation and oppression. Gandhi spoke to it. Mandela spoke to it. And Gandhi reminded us that fear is the enemy, not each other, and ultimately it will be love that conquers all."
The North America Nakba Tour is administered by a committee of Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Free Palestine Movement and the International Solidarity Movement – Northern California.
Local Chattanooga partners working with the committee to bring "The Exiled Palestinians" to Chattanooga for International Human Rights Week 2017 included: Gandhi Global Center For Peace, Egyptians Abroad for Democracy Worldwide, and The Well on the Soutside, a member church of the Adventist Peace Fellowship. Bridge Refugee Services also joined in the event to help make the connection locally and share about what is being done to help refugees who are relocated to Chattanooga.