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Commemorate World Refugee Day--June 20th

June 19th, 2008


Check out our Nakba mobile billboard crashing the Israel birthday celebration on the National
Mall, June 1, 2008.

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Tomorrow, June 20th, the global human rights community marks World Refugee Day. All around the globe, people will gather to commemorate this day by recognizing and celebrating the contribution of refugees throughout the world; yet, for Palestinians worldwide these celebrations are marred by their 60th year of forced displacement, dispossession and exile.

The global community has provided urgent humanitarian aid to millions of refugees across the globe and helped raise awareness about the plight of displaced people. However, Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons remain the largest and longest-standing displaced population in the world, totaling approximately 7.2 million, or three-quarters of all Palestinians.

June 20 is an opportunity to reflect, commemorate and organize around World Refugee Day; this is an opportunity to educate ordinary Americans on the plight of millions of Palestinian refugees.The US Campaign encourages groups and individuals to utilize resources from partner organizations like AFSC and BADIL ResourceCenter in helping to bring awareness to the struggle for self-­determination and respect for human rights.

The worldwide refugee crisis is intimately linked to the Palestinian struggle--between 1947 and 1949, roughly 750,000 people were expelled or displaced in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which has come to be known as the Nakba, or catastrophe.

Of the 150,000 Arabs who remained in Palestine after the creation of Israel in May 1948, several tens of thousands were internally displaced. Driven out by fear and intimidation, Palestinians were forced from their homes and even massacred, as in the village of Deir Yassin in April 1948. In 1952, the newly-formed Israeli state passed the Nationality Act stripping Palestinians of their right to return in direct contradiction of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international laws.

Many Palestinians and activists will continue to shed light on the events of the Nakba. Here is footage by local activists of the US Campaign’s mobile billboard that traveled all around the nation’s capital earlier this month with stops at AIPAC’s annual convention and Israel’s birthday celebration on the National Mall. The billboard display had a simple message, “Everyone has the right to return to his country,” as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The spirit of the Nakba is best captured by many of the artists who submitted works for our Expressions of Nakba multi-media contest held earlier this year. Check out the latest winner of the written works category from the competition.

For those interested in bringing the Expressions of Nakba exhibit to a town or city near your, please click here to find out more information. Groups are responsible for shipping and transportation costs to house the exhibit.

As we commemorate World Refugee Day, we must be steadfast in our demands that Israel rectify the ongoing crises of the Palestinian Diaspora by upholding international human rights law and allowing Palestinians to return to the land from which they were ethnically cleansed 60 years ago.Help send a strong message to law makers and the global community that the forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinians will not be forgotten, nor will the pursuit of justice and accountability be abandoned.