By Hawa Monier
After conducting a month-long tour of the UK, renowned photojournalist, Hamde Abu Rahma, touched Palestinian soil on Friday, having conveyed the message of life under Israeli occupation to various UK audiences.
Last year, Abu Rahma was refused entry to participate in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event under the claim that he had provided no financial information, despite having proven that all aspects of his trip were financed by sponsors.
For his 2016 UK tour, Abu Rahma was again denied a visa at first
— Open Eye Gallery (@OpenEyeGallery) August 21, 2016
Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard, the SNP spokesperson on the Cabinet Office in the House of Commons who was “annoyed and outraged” at the decision, supported Abu Rahma’s original application for a visa which confirmed that the Network of Photographers for Palestine (NOPFP) would be covering all his travel and subsistence expenses.
NOPFP raised over £2500 through two online crowdfunding appeals for the visit to pay for his travel, accommodation, living expenses and his visa application.
Abu Rahma felt the key to unlocking the UK door was that “many people stood with me,”, including “people from the government”.
Arriving in the UK on August 1, Abu Rahma’s tour began in Edinburgh where he was greeted with Palestinian flags and supporters. He stated: “When I first saw the Palestinian flags I thought it was a protest for Palestine then I realized that these people have come to meet me at the train station.”
Abu Rahma, an outspoken critic of the occupation, held several talks across Scotland and England, with feature photos from his book, ‘Roots Run Deep’, revealing the reality of life under seige, in Palestine.
In his final exhibit in London, Abu Rahma was joined by Mahmoud Zwahre, from the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.
Zwahre addressed the audience on the peaceful, non-violent ways in which to resist the occupation, with a focus on the popular Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
He emphasized the need for a collective understanding and humanity across all people. The event was hosted by the activism group, ‘I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists’.
While on tour, Abu Rahma’s home in Bil’in was raided by occupation forces.
— Carmen ❤️ Palestine (@carmenlopezmar7) August 24, 2016
He stated on facebook, “Whilst I was talking about the life of the Palestinians under the Israeli Occupation in Edinburgh, Scotland last night, the Israeli army was raiding my family house in Palestine. This is just another example of the intimidation and harassment that my people have to suffer every day.”
His final conclusion on the raid was that, “The soldiers gave no reason for raiding my family’s houses, and took nothing away. They clearly just wanted to intimidate us all, as they often do to the people of Palestine.”
Born and brought up in the West Bank village of Bil’in, for the past six years Hamde Abu Rahma has been risking his life to document life under the Israeli occupation.
— Ariyana Love (@AmbassadorOPTV) August 18, 2016
Abu Rahma began photography after the untimely death of his cousin, Bassem, by occupation forces during a peaceful demonstration near Ramallah in 2009. Only two years later, Basem’s sister Jawaher, was also killed.
The death of Bassem Abu Rahma was captured in the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘5 Broken Cameras’.
The people of Bil’in are at the forefront of the Palestinian non-violent resistance movement. They have organized more than 500 weekly protests against the construction of Israel’s ‘Apartheid Wall’ which ‘separates’ the village from 60% of its farmland.
Hamde Abu Rahma, a Palestinian photo-journalist and a participant in our travelling exhibitions, has finally… https://t.co/bJFojDu8qm
— The MPP (@MPPWashingtonDC) August 8, 2016
In 2014, Abu Rahma published a collection of his photographs: ’Roots Run Deep – Life in Occupied Palestine’, which was showcased on his UK tour.
The commentary to his book reads: “Through Hamde’s lens we are able to witness remarkable scenes of living under apartheid. He allows us to see what Palestinians face on a daily basis. The constant harassment by the Israeli army, the partition wall, the humiliation of checkpoints, the destruction of homes, farms and ever-expanding settlements built by the Israelis.”