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Ahed Tamini, guest of honor at the 'Fête de l'Humanité'

Invited by the newspaper L'Humanité and the French Communist Party to the 83rd edition of the Fête de l'Humanité at La Courneuve (Seine-Saint-Denis), Ahed Tamini joined debates organized by the association France Palestine Solidarité. Then she took the floor Sunday, September 16 in front of the thousands of people gathered on the esplanade of the big stage before answering the questions of Dogan Düzgün, for Dogan Presse Agency.

Her name is Ahed Tamini. She's 17 years old. She's from Nabi Saleh in the north west of Ramallah in the West Bank. She could be a teenager like any other. But from this face framed by gold curls and these eyes with unfathomable transparency emerges a fierce determination and a surprising gravity for a young girl of this age. She feels physically challenged. And in fact for good reason. Ahed Tamini, an activist known as the "Palestinian Rosa Parks", became, after eight months of imprisonment, the icon of the Palestinian protest against the Israeli occupation. Forbidden by the Israeli authorities to leave the occupied territories, Ahed and her family were finally able to honor the invitation given to them by the French Communist Party and the newspaper L'Humanité to be present at the traditional Fête de L'Huma.

From the big stage, with a disarming mastery, she harangued a thronged crowd. With conviction, she spoke on the subject of the United States and their president Donald Trump: "Palestinian refugees, we don't need money from Americans but to return to our land" and find "our dignity" while remaining "united in the face of occupation". She also recalled that "even Palestinian children are controlled and arrested at Israeli checkpoints," stating, "when you are a 17-year-old Palestinian today, you are daily subjected to Israeli occupation practices."

At Dogan Presse Agency, she recalled that her arrest initially resulted from slaps to an Israeli soldier but then, at her trial, a dozen other charges were added. In prison, her conditions of detention were particularly distressing with difficult interrogations and the use of psychological torture. Her physical condition also deteriorated due to low temperatures in her cell and noise that prevented her from sleeping.

"A Human and Universal Cause"
Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, the crackdown on Palestine has intensified, going so far to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to decide to freeze financial aid for Palestine. According to Ahed Tamini, Donald Trump doesn't decide the situation in Jerusalem "which is and will remain the eternal capital of the Palestinian state". "This is the story of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people will decide." And she added that Palestine doesn't need any money from the United States. This occupied territory claims its freedom: "we could be autonomous if there wasn't this colonization and the Israeli occupation which prevents us from being free and disposing of our resources."
On the other hand, there's unfortunately the persistent silence of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) and the one of the international community concerning all the decisions that are taking place in Palestine. Ahed Tamini specifies that the duty of the United Nations is to apply their own resolutions. Palestine only asks for the application of the decisions that have been taken in this instance. She added: "we're also asking the international community to commit itself more to the Palestinian question."
The silence of international countries responds to the most surprising silence of the Near and Middle East, and more generally Muslim and Arab countries, including Turkey. The young girl said that the Arab or Islamic communities don't unfortunately support Palestine enough, but not only them. The Palestinian people wish everyone, without any distinction of religion or identity, to recognize themselves in the Palestinian struggle and to support this country: "it's a primarily human and universal cause and it isn't an identity or religious cause."
To conclude, Ahed Tamini declares that she'll most likely go to Spain but will then return to France: "there will be other opportunities for me to come back" she says, smiling!

"Fighters for Freedom"
Ahed Tamini was only 16 years old on December 19, 2017, when she was arrested for beating with her bare hands Tsahal soldiers in the yard of her house, asking them to leave. The video published by her mother showing her slapping one of them went viral and cost her eight months in jail. Released on July 29, her incarceration didn't taint her desire to resist Israeli oppression as a symbol of peaceful resistance. On 21 August, his 22-year-old brother, Wahed, was sentenced to 14 months in jail for throwing stones at an Israeli policeman during a demonstration in their village in March 2017.
Residents of the village of Nabi Saleh oppose armed Israeli soldiers, confiscation of land and settlements that seize local resources, including their wells. The actions of Ahed Tamini can't however justify the continued detention of a 16-year-old girl, although her case is unfortunately not unique, since 350 Palestinian minors are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails. But as Ahed Tamini so well recalled leaving the big stage of the Fête de l'Humanité under the ovations of a crowd she was able to move: "the Palestinian people, we are not victims, we are fighters for freedom!".

Report by Dogan Düzgün and Béatrice Taupin for Dogan Press Agency - Fête de l'Humanité 2018


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