By Yousef M. Aljamal – MUN Media Team – Gaza
Hundreds of youngsters gathered today at Rashad Al-Shawa Hall in the center of Gaza city to take part in the Palestine Model United Nations 2012. The national anthem was played as guests stood up in respect; they included Rawya Al-Shawa, a PLC member and the head of the Gaza Association for Culture and Science Development, alongside representatives of various UN agencies in Palestine.
“Gaza wants life. Siege and occupation must come to an end. I hope you benefit from this conference. The Palestinian people are eager for freedom. The Palestinian youth can play an important role in decision-making,” said Rawya Al-Shawa.
“On behalf of myself and the association, I hope this conference will be a message to the UN and International Community that the Palestinian people are looking to the day on which they will live free of occupation. We hope the UN plays its historical role in putting an end to this conflict,” she concluded.
The notion of the conference was first adopted by the Migrating Letters Initiative and the Gaza Association for Culture and Development in an attempt to raise youth voices in Palestine and convey their message to the world. UNDP supported the initiative and hundreds of youths volunteered and worked day and night to make it a reality.
Mr. Frode Mauring, Special Representative for the Administrator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory gave a speech in which he stressed the importance of the role of the youth in Palestinian society. “This conference will help us understand the principles of international legitimacy and we will have a better understanding of the challenges and difficulties that UN faces,” he asserted. “UNDP contributes to this by facilitating access to information and empowering marginalized sectors,” he concluded.
“You will be the leaders of your communities in all fields. We need your help to work together to achieve development. The world has to take youth aspirations into consideration. The youth makes us feel proud under such tough conditions of siege,” he added.
PalMUN is headed by Mohammed Qtifan, a Palestinian youth and one of the founders of the ‘Migrating Letters Initiative’. In his speech he thanked all supporters of the conference and asserted the occupation’s culpability in silencing youth voices.
“This conference teaches us that which we refused before based on emotions is refused by us today based on reason. PalMUN tries to win back what brothers, occupations and walls have separated.”
Raise Your Voices!
Qtifan, who wore a black suit and a blue tie, asked youths to raise their voices and articulate their message clearly. “The occupation is trying to silence us. Palestinians are sick of waiting. People want to live in dignity and freedom. People want Jerusalem as a capital of Palestine,” he continued.
250 youths will represent various UN bodies. The vast majority of organizers and participants are also youth. “Despite uncertainty, the youth are capable of taking responsibility.”
“It’s true that we called for unity and got division, called for development, got famine, asked for freedom and got chains, yet you [the youth] will sing freedom songs. The youth of Palestine: raise your hands and never bow down before your occupiers, and those who steal your bread and give you pieces then ask you to thank them,” he said.
No More Gambling
As the Palestinian political arena is busy with statements from all factions, Qtifan addressed the crowd saying, “No more gambling. No more initiatives. Next Sunday, all recommendations and decisions will be between your hands.”
The conference is the first of its kind held in Palestine. As UN agencies hold their annual sessions, the youth in Gaza will discuss and learn more about the world’s countries’ positions towards Palestine. The conference is expected to be tremendously successful.
-Yousef M. Aljamal is a Gaza-based blogger and translator. He is on the media committee of PalMUN 2012. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.