Sumud gives first signals of solidarity and starts film workshop

First Report from the international brigade 2010 in Ein el Hilweh, Lebanon
Elisa Wiener and Mohammad Aburous
Members of the Sumud 2010 Delegation arrived in Beirut and Sidon, where Nashet activists were awaiting them to accompany them to the Palestinian refugee camp Ein el Helweh. 17 participants had made their way from Austria, Germany and Italy to Lebanon to send a signal of constructive, creative and political solidarity. The delegation is accommodated in the Sumud Centre, which was renovated in 2009 in the course of the first Sumud volontary mission.

Straight after the arrival work began. The missing facilities for the multi media centre were purchased. After a first get together, Nashet organised a tour through the Camp. Those delegation members who had already taken part in the mission 2009 were immediately recognised by the inhabitants who welcomed them warmly. This first tour through the Camp allowed for an important impression of the Camp’s intensive political history and present. Posters and pictures of martyrs are everywhere, as well as symbols of Palestinian organisations and banners with political slogans. The Camp means to leave Lebanese normality. Palestine starts here.

During the tour, the delegation stopped for a short visit in the PFLP office. It was welcomed by spokesman Abu Bassel who gave an introductory speech on the current situation in Lebanon. In return, the Sumud delegation delivered a first message of solidarity. The delegation made its way back to the Sumud Centre through the narrow Camp roads. After lunch, first discussions took place about different ideas for the film projects. Around midnight another participant, a member of a local parliament, arrived from Germany.

The following morning, the delegation payed a visit to Monir Maqudah, a leading figure of al-Fatah. Maqudah had once been leader of Fatah in the Camp, but took his distance after the Oslo Agreement. He then tried to found a new organisation to oppose Arafat and his political line. However, the attempt failed due to lack of resources. Consequently, Maqudah slowly re-approached Fatah and today considers himself a representative of Fatah, who wants to change the organisation from within.

For the rest of the day, the delegation took the day off at the beach of the city of Tyr. It was suprising to see how this predominantly Shiite town is more tolerant in terms of dressing and behaviour than the neighboroughing town of Sidon. Participants visited the latter that same evening, enjoying a walk at the ‘corniche’ before work was supposed to begin the next morning. During the night, the last delegation members arrived from Graz, Austria.

On Monday, further political meetings followed. The delegation was invited by the official Fatah leader. Lieutenant Mahmoud Isa, named Lino, is heading both Fatah and PLO troups in the Camp. The latter represent the Camp’s police force and are responsible for civil security. Lino explained the PLO’s daily work and tasks to the delegation members, particularly stressing their role in the fight against Salafi groups. Like PLO heads in Ramallah, the local Fatah leaders hope for increasing political recognition and higher funding in exchange for fulfulling donor requests regarding internal security. Consequently, Lino’s military concept includes an iron fist policy against radical Islamic groups, whereas he is willing to cooperate with other organisations, regardless of political differences.

In the afternoon, delegation and local activists engaged in a discussion about the different political groups’ historical development. With the arrival of director and film maker Arab Lotfi the film workshop started officially. She began work by commenting and complementing the concepts for the documentary film written by the Sumud and Nashet activists.

In the evening, the delegation visited the Maaruf Saad Cultural Centre in Sidon. The Centre, which is named after a killed Nasserite leader, showed a political exhibition on the Nasserite movement in Sidon and its role in the struggle against the fascist Lebanese Forces and the Israeli aggression. The exhibition extensively depicted the responsibilty of the Lebanese Forces for a high number of car bomb attacks against political enemies. In the current situation, the exhibition is particularly meaningful, because it is above all the Lebanese Forces who accuse Hezbollah of being responsible for killing late Prime Minister Hariri in 2005.

Later that evening, the delegation planned the agenda for the following day and arranged for working groups to start the film workshop: Solidarity goes creative.

July 27, 2010