BEIRUT: Efforts by activists to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp culminated Friday in a demonstration at the Corniche in Ain al-Mreisseh. The protest, organized by the feminist collective Nasawiya, along with Palestinian rights groups, brought together dozens of people united by a determination to shed light on what they call discriminatory laws and policies applied to the camp’s population.
The demonstration was organized in solidarity with Nahr al-Bared residents, many of whom have been staging a sit-in after the death of 15-year-old camp resident Ahmad Qassem earlier this month during clashes with the Army.
“We are holding this protest to express solidarity with the Palestinians in Nahr al-Bared,” said organizer Tamara Qiblawi. “The situation magnifies what is happening in every other camp, the discrimination, the humiliation.”
Replicating the confines of the camp, whose entrances are controlled by the Army, organizers strung mock-barbed wire between palm trees on the corniche and attendees were asked for their IDs before entering the protest space.
Mirroring the protesters at the Nahr al-Bared sit-in, Friday’s demonstrators had six demands: the end of what they call military rule, specifically the requirement to show IDs when entering; a full, judicial probe into Qassem’s death; the return of Palestinian homes appropriated by the Army; an end to arrests of peaceful protesters; the release of those arrested following recent clashes; and to allow for a transparent media presence within the camp.
Friday’s rally was a follow-up to “Live from Nahr al-Bared,” an event Wednesday evening, where Lebanese, Palestinians and foreigners came together to learn about how the lives of camp residents were impeded by the Army’s stringent security measures.
The evening’s stated purpose was to undermine the common media portrayal of the situation in the camp, which often focuses solely on its use by the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam as a base.
This presence led to the destruction of much of the camp in 2007 when the Lebanese Army laid siege to the camp in an attempt to root out the group.
A screening of “Nahr al-Bared: Detention Camp” was followed by an interview with director, Sandra Maddi.
Maddi, who was arrested Monday while trying to film the sit-in, said: “Palestinians have been living for the last five years in a military state. It’s very important that the public knows about what is happening in the camp.”