I Dream of a Free Palestine

Abu Rafik Masad - Santiago, Chile

Like all young Palestinians who were born and grew up under Zionist occupation, we have never known freedom, but this value was and remains the most coveted, regardless of the cost or sacrifice.

My family is from Al-Bakaa neighbourhood in Jerusalem. In June 1948, my family was forced to flee under attacks from Zionist forces. They took nothing, only the key. My family came to Bethlehem where I was born and grew up.

  After high school, I went to the University of Bethlehem, but I was always looking for academic possibilities abroad to be free from the oppression, school-closures, and the permanent and violent actions of the occupying troops. I eventually had the opportunity to study in Chile, I did not hesitate one second, sent my application and was accepted at several universities.

I went to study Civil Engineering at the University of Santiago, which was a big challenge. It was essential for me to demonstrate that the Palestinians are strong - the word failure is not in our dictionary. So I finished my studies in record time; it was a very happy and pleasant experience. Despite the fact that at the time Chile was under a cruel dictatorship, it did not compare to the military occupation we lived in Palestine. The dictatorship was carried out by mercenaries and special forces against the political opposition, while the occupation is against an entire people. The occupation is a war against our people; it involves a number of unlawful policies and measures carried out by the Israeli government and army to make people’s life impossible in order to force them to leave - it aims to displace Palestinians and acquire their lands.

As a newcomer to Chile, I remember that one day while I was on the bicycle, I went in the wrong direction and a policeman signalled to alert me, but I was filled with the trauma of the occupation, and seeing the men in uniforms gave me a shock and without thinking, I accelerated, hit the policeman and ran away. Soon after, I understood that in Chile, despite the dictatorship, the uniformed men, in general are not necessarily enemies.

At the University erverybody called me “the Palestinian”, I had the affection and respect of all my classmates and teachers. We studied very hard, but also enjoyed life. Despite the pleasant stay, I felt it was my obligation – my national duty - to return to Palestine.

In Palestine, I worked as an engineer for four years, always with the pain of not being able to live in freedom - when one gets used to freedom, it is difficult to live without it. I also worked in Jordan but for political reasons I was forced to leave and return to Chile, where I succeded professionally.

I think my successes are primarily due to our character – steadfast, honest and tenacious - and our culture of survival; values that we have acquired and developed throughout our struggle for freedom.

I dream of returning to my house in Jerusalem – Palestine - to live in safety, dignity and freedom like other peoples of the world and to sleep on our land, under the shade of an almond tree. This is the best gift life could give me. I dream of a free and sovereign Palestine where our people can live in harmony, tolerance, respect and true democracy. For me, the best solution to this conflict and the refugee issue is the one state solution; a democratic state for all peoples to live in full equality without discrimination based on religion, race, colour or sex.