Conversation with Munther Amira, Human Rights Defender from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem
“Popular Resistance and the Refugee Experience”
The first Café event in 2021 was privileged to hear from Human Rights Defender Munther Amira, direct from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. Munther is a refugee who lives and works in the camp, where he was born. He is the Board Director of the camp’s Youth Centre, established in 1968, a social worker, and formerly the General Secretary of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists. He is also co-ordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.
In the conversation, Munther talked about life in Aida camp, and about how the meaning of occupation emerges from the history of the camp and the experiences of its residents. This included the story of the Key of Return, which Munther accompanied to the Berlin Art Biennale in 2012.
Munther explained how, in the face of the incessant violence of the Occupation, he and others respond with an activism based on an ideology of popular, non-violent resistance. In 2017, Munther was given an annual award for popular struggle by Youth Against Settlements.
During the conversation, the following YouTube clips were shown –
Munther challenging the arrest of an 8-year old boy in Aida Camp
A report on the Aida Camp’s ‘Key of Return’ going to the Berlin Biennale
We showed a part of this film ‘We Have a Dream to Live Safe’ (from 7.30 to 9.00) to show the use of tear gas in Aida Camp, and to hear of incidents when residents had been killed by the IDF
This one minute film recorded on a phone shows the Border Police making disturbing threats in the camp
This shows Munther and other Palestinians engaged in popular resistance
These videos on Facebook are of young people from Aida Youth Centre singing about the Nakba, and about men from the camp who are in Israeli prisons
https://fb.watch/2FIENMLai_/ and https://fb.watch/2FIAVHKxbR/
This Guardian article reports on the international campaign to free Munther in 2018 – https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/social-life-blog/2018/mar/09/social-workers-demand-release-palestinian-human-rights-defender-munther-amira
If you would like to make a donation to show solidarity and support to the people of Aida Camp, they are currently raising funds to help them get through this winter, on Just Giving, where you can read in more detail how your donation will be used – https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/aida-winter-relief
In the circumstances of a severe lockdown, we were fortunate that the Cafe started with music from Izzeddin Said, Academic Supervisor and Head of Department, The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Ramallah Branch. As always the music was arranged with the help of PalMusic UK