Badee Dwaik, a Human Rights Defenders Activist

Badee Dwaik, is a well-known activist in Palestine and his work is based in Hebron, a city that he defines as “the museum of Apartheid”. He expresses, “Israeli occupation policies have created in Hebron a unique situation, where we experience ethnical cleansing as well as the Apartheid policies”. He decided to focus his activism in Hebron in order to document the violence that Palestinians suffer in this city through the cameras. Hebron is the only place around the West Bank where you can find the settlements in the heart of the city. For the first time in our history, a Mosque, concretely Ibrahimi Mosque, was divided and half of it was converted in a Synagogue. The city is divided in H1 and H2 areas, and there are many zones which are closed such as Shuhada street. In Hebron there is no any difference between soldiers and settlers, being the later ones the second army. There are around 2.200 soldiers to protect only 800 settlers who are based on the heart of Hebron. There are many checkpoints located inside the city, which provoke physical segregation between families and where Palestinian are humiliated during their daily life. Badee explains the following, “the soldiers protect the settlers, they only interfere if they see that many Palestinians are around”. Both of them work for the same goal, which is to make the life impossible for the Palestinians, pushing them to leave their lands in order to build new settlements extending their existence in Hebron and following the occupation policies.

He explains that his activism started in 1987, during the I Intifada when he was 15 years old. His father, who was also active during the I Intifada, was his reference when he decided to get involved with the Palestinian cause; “He taught me how to be an activist”. Badee was arrested after the Oslo Agreements and he was in jail for three years. He was supposed to study in Bagdad with a scholarship, but due to his arrest he lost that chance. However, to study was a dream for him, thus, once he was released, he decided to study social work at Hebron University. His activism continued after his realize, cooperating with International people and associations.

Most part of his life has been involved with the Palestinian Popular Resistance, but in the beginning of 2014, Imad Abu Shamsya who is another well-known activist in Hebron, motivated Badee to create the organization called Human Rights Defenders. They were already inside the Popular Resistance, but they decided to go one step further and to set up a project focused on the cameras in order to document the violations that Palestinians are suffering in Hebron both, by IDF and by settlers. Both of them created the mandates of this organization, defined as a Palestinian Democratic group.

Badee explains that, “we aim to document the violations committed by the Israeli occupation policies as well as to train people how to use the camera. Thus, we started the project called “Capture Occupation Camera Project”. However, we are also part of the Popular Resistance, thus, we organize protests, marches and demonstrations in Hebron in order to raise the awarness about the situation we face day by day”. One really important March organized by Human Rights Defenders, takes place every February together with the International community in order to show solidarity and support to Hebron. Another important campaign is called “Dismantle the Ghetto”, which consists in mobilizing people to engage them in nonviolence activities calling for the removal of the checkpoints and the eviction of settlers from Hebron.

On the other hand, Human Rights Defenders has launched several campaigns for Palestinian prisoners, being one of them the campaign for the Palestinian lawyer, Shireen Assawi, who was arrested and once she was released, the Israeli intelligence services started working to prevent her from practicing her work as a lawyer forever. Badee was in charge of that campaign, which was very successful; Aljazeera as well as BBC made a documentary about her, and an organization based in Geneva decided to nominate her with the Human Rights Defender prize in 2014. The organization called The Frontline, funded the lawyer’s costs during the process.

Shireen Assawi, a lawyer who suffered the Israeli occupation policies

Human Rights Defenders wants to raise awareness about the Hebron situation and to achieve this mission they are focused on three pillars: action on the ground, media diffusion through the cameras, which are the main tool to reflect the situation, and finally, the legal pillar using the materials to defend Palestinian people in the court when they face arrests. However, Badee explains that these materials are also useful to make documentaries about Hebron.

As it has been mentioned before, without education there is no revolution. Thus, Human Rights Defenders activists decided to educate the students, targeting four schools located in the occupied H2 area. “We train boys and girls how to use the camera teaching them that cameras can become a life weapon for them. We also provide them with skills to be protected while they are recording as well as we proportionate them some legal knowledge related to the Israeli law, in order to be aware about which are their rights when they do this work”. To conclude and according to their organization mandates, they try to empower the families who live inside H2 area since these families have become isolated at the same time that they suffer the Israeli occupation policies such as the checkpoints, the physical segregation or the IDF and settlers’ attacks.

When Badee is asked about the resistance, he says that “To me, the best part of this resistance is the gathering of the people. However, we are still on our process to create a real Popular Resistance. We are working to see more and more people involved both, Palestinians and Internationals in order to achieve our goal: freedom for Palestine”. We need to keep struggling locally but also internationally; we need the resilience of the Palestinian families avoiding that they leave their houses and their lands, otherwise, settlers and the Israeli State will take more and more land contributing to the ethnical cleansing policy.

March against U.S. statement which declared the settlements are legal

“All these years inside the Popular Resistance have taught me that many people around the world are facing the same injustices, that many countries are oppressed. I have learnt that since we have a global capitalism and imperialism system, we should be united to create a global resistance”. From Badee point of view, the global resistance is needed in order to liberate people from everywhere. “We should work together since we are facing the same system, which is focused on humiliating and controlling us in our daily life. The Palestine cause will not be possible without the International support”.

Human Rights Defenders members

When Badee is asked about the new Palestinian generations and its involvement inside the Popular Resistance, he declares that if his generation doesn’t get the chance to liberate Palestine, this should not make them give up the struggle. “We have to keep demanding our human and political rights, including refugee and their right to return. We need to work on educating our new generation to keep struggling in the future and to keep our resistance alive until we get our victory, which is our freedom”. Currently, Palestine is facing the extra support that some powerful states such U.S. are giving to the State of Israel, violating the International law such as when Jerusalem was declared the capital of Israel or the recent statement considering that the settlements are legal.

Badee dreams that Palestine will be a free State, a place where all the people will live in peace and equality without mattering the religion or the ethnic. “I want Palestine, from the river to the sea, being a free state where all of us live in equality without racism, sexism or any kind of discrimination. To achieve that goal, we need the International support”.

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