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Event marks Nakbeh, honours veteran journalist Abu Akleh

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - May 18,2022 - Last updated at May 18,2022

Speakers during an event organised by the Kudsi Association Knowledge for Heritage and Culture on Tuesday, commemorating the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakbeh and honouring veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh (Photo courtesy of Kudsi Association Knowledge for Heritage and Culture)

AMMAN — The Kudsi Association Knowledge for Heritage and Culture organised an event on Tuesday evening in Al Shams Theatre, commemorating the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakbeh and honouring veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. 

The Nakbeh (catastrophe) commemorates the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes after the creation of Israel on Palestinian land in 1948.

The association works on uniting creative efforts “to revive the heritage of Al Quds and Al Aqsa Mosque through various cultural events and activities”. It also aims to raise public awareness of the Palestinian cause, according to head of the association Nisreen Odeh.

During the event, Odeh said: “Carrying a cultural heritage that dates back to thousands of years, Palestinians still hold on to their lands and their right to return no matter how many years pass by.”

She also noted that the killing of Abu Akleh, who was shot dead while covering an Israeli occupation forces raid in the West Bank city of Jenin last week, is a “failed attempt to silence the truth and free speech”.

The event hosted a number of speakers including head of Al Jazeera office in Amman Hasan Shoubaki, lawyer and head of the National Association for Human Rights Mustafa Nasrallah, head of the Arab Women Media Centre Mahasen Al Imam, and writer and novelist Nardeen Abu Nab’aah. 

In his speech, Shoubaki noted Abu Aqleh’s “sense of duty” towards her country and the truth throughout her journey as a journalist.

Imam, who is also a 74-year-old veteran Jordanian journalist, pointed out that Abu Akleh’s death is part of a long history of assaults on journalists and media professionals that aim to “hide and silence the truth”.

She also talked about what it means to be a Palestinian female journalist in light of the reality of the Palestinian cause and the political crisis surrounding it. 

“The abuses and threats that these journalists are subjected to on a daily basis prevent them from doing their jobs and reporting the truth,” Imam said, noting that Israeli occupation forces are yet to be held responsible for these “continuing violations”.

Nasrallah spoke of the statutory role in protecting journalists from such abuses.

The killing of Abu Akleh is “a war crime and a violation of global peace and security according to international law”, he said, adding that journalists are protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The event also featured the screening of a short documentary film produced by the Palestinian Women Abroad Association, with the participation of Palestinian journalists Abu Akleh, Givara Budeiri, Heba Akila and Bushra Al Tawil who is currently detained in Israeli prisons. 

It was filmed roughly two months ago to be premiered in Amman, marking the 74th anniversary of Nakbeh, with the presence of Abu Akleh, according to the writer of the documentary script Abu Nab’aah.

“This documentary discusses the role of Palestinian female journalists in supporting the Palestinian cause and voicing the sufferings of their people. It also highlights the difficulties and abuses they face while doing their jobs,” she said.

The documentary pointed out that the annual report by the Journalist Support Committee for 2021 shows that both male and female journalists in Palestine suffered over 800 violations, which “breaches international covenants that guarantee the freedom of the press”. 

After the documentary, Odeh presented Shoubaki with a painting by Jordanian artist Omar Al Bdour in honour of the late journalist Abu Akleh.

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