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Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel Receives International Human Rights Award

The Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel (ADRID) was selected as one of four winners of The Body Shop Human Rights Award 2002. ADRID was selected from among 44 grass-roots initiatives worldwide for its outstanding efforts for the advancement of housing rights (return and real property restitution) of the some 250,000 Palestinians who have lived as internally displaced in Israel since their forced displacement in 1948. BADIL congratulates The Body Shop and its expert jury for this courageous decision on behalf of the basic human rights of internally displaced Palestinians, whose more than 50-year-old struggle has received little international attention. ADRID was nominated for the 2002 Body Shop Human Rights Award by BADIL, in recognition of the important work of ADRID in the past and in order provide an international stage for the struggle of internally displaced Palestinians for their right of return and real property restitution in the future.

ADRID shares the 2002 Body Shop Human Rights Award with the Romani Baht Foundation (Sofia, Bulgaria), COPINH Civil Council of Indigenous and Popular Oranisations (La Esperanza, Intibuca, Honduras) and the Ilishe Trust (Mombasa, Kenya). The award ceremony was held last night at the London Globe Theater with the presence of some 300 journalists and representatives of British and international NGOs. ADRID was represented by its spokesman, Soliman Fahmawi, who received the award on the Association’s behalf. The award ceremony included screenings of video clips featuring the work of the winning organizations.

For further information, please contact:
Wakim Wakim, advocate; head, ADRID: tel. 00972-64-441407;
Soliman Fahmawi, spokesman, ADRID: tel. 00972-50-267679.

Please find attached the press release issued by The Body Shop on the occasion of its 2002 Human Rights Award, as well as The Body Shop information sheet on internally displaced Palestinians in Israel, which was distributed to the participants at the award ceremony. The Body Shop is a British skin and body care retailer with branches in 50 countries. For further information about this human rights award, see: www.the-body-shop.com or call Ms. Elly Hargreave, Human Rights Officer, The Body Shop International, tel. 0044-72087600 or mobile: 0044-7-876 578 133.

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THE BODY SHOP HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD 2002

Housing is a human right

“Home” is a concept that most of us take for granted. Yet there are countless communities across the world fighting for their fundamental right to housing.

At a very special ceremony on Monday 29th October 2002,

The BODY SHOP HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD will mark the achievements of four international grassroots organisations campaigning to protect those threatened with the loss of their homes, or who are fighting to regain land taken away from them. The four groups will share the $300,000 Award.

Each of the winning groups, from ISRAEL; KENYA; HONDURAS and BULGARIA, has demonstrated exceptional bravery and creativity in protecting and promoting housing rights for the vulnerable and the marginalised.

Land-grabbing, illegal eviction, persecution and discrimination are just some of the issues our winning groups have to regularly face.

Launched in 2000 The Body Shop Human Rights Award is unique in that it is the only award to highlight and celebrate the outstanding achievements of grass roots organisations working in the emerging areas of social, cultural and economic rights.

Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and his holiness the Dalai Lama have endorsed the Award.

The Body Shop is grateful to Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, who acted as invaluable advisors to the Jury in selecting regional experts.

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BUILDING HOPE:

THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE

DEFENSE OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INTERNALLY DISPLACED IN ISRAEL

Around 250,000 Palestinians currently living in Israel were displaced during the Israeli-Arab conflict from their homes. The National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Internally Displaced is a self-help and advocacy advisory service, and a network for all community-based organisations campaigning for the right of return for these internally displaced Palestinians.

Providing moral support to their communities, the group restores destroyed communal property and religious sites (grave yards, churches, mosques) and undertakes documentation of history, demography, and properties of internally displaced Palestinians. It organises liaison between the community and Palestinian refugee-rights advocacy organizations and NGOs outside Israel.

Their work has resulted in a re-awakening of interest, among the young Palestinian generation, for their villages of origin, and in many local and individual initiatives throughout the year including repairing village graveyards and celebrating family events (picnics, marriages, baptisms) on their lost land.

The people:

1. In Mujeidel, Abu Umar and his wife are elderly Palestinians displaced from their home territory since 1948. The land remains but it has not been developed since that time. Without government permission, the couple are afraid to return, fearing humiliation, and have had to live nearby. They maintain the hope that one day they will return.
2. In Saffouri, Amin Mohammad talks about his destroyed village. Following the 1948 Israeli occupation, he and many others fled to Lebanon, where he stayed for a month before returning. After seven months the area was declared to be a “closed military zone” and they were forced to leave. He says that now “they (the Israeli authorities) planted trees to hide what remains of the village.”
3. In Al Basseh, Wakim Wakim works to prevent a church from being turned into a stable. He also protects the surrounding cemeteries, by building fences around them . Without his efforts and those of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, it is likely that these areas would go to ruin as they have in many other places.
4. The organization is working hard to strengthen the links between uprooted people and their villages. Wakim’s daughter was recently baptized at the church he helps to preserve. Many displaced villagers were invited to attend and the church was specially cleaned for the occasion. It is a symbol of their efforts to keep their sense of community alive despite not being able to return to their land to live. Wakim explains that in many cases displaced peoples are given the right to return, but claims when they attempt to exercise their right, the area often is designated as a “closed military zone.” And so they cannot in reality exercise that right.

 

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