Gaza artists reflect on 60 years of human rights

Gaza's artists have been given a 40-meter long wall to express their thoughts about the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
gaza wall.jpg
The artists' wall is part of a year-long commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. R.R.

GAZA CITY, Feb. 14, 2008 (MENASSAT) – Despite the rain and cold in Gaza, some thirty young Palestinian artists have gathered at a forty meters long wall. It is not one of the walls that close off Gaza from Israel and Egypt; this one has been made available to Gaza artists in order to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Near the offices of the Palestinian Executive Council in Gaza, the artists have started working on the wall, upon the invitation of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen's Rights  (PICCR) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Gaza.

Since early morning, students and graduates from the College of Fine Arts in Al-Aqsa University have started coming to the location in order to reflect through their drawings the thirty articles mentioned in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, which was voted on December 10th, 1948.


MENASSAT met with Behjat Helu, a trainer at the PICCR, who explained that this event is the first of many others the PICCR will organize this year in collaboration with the UN OHCHR.

"This occasion is special because it comes amid a series of internal and external abuses against citizens of the Palestinian Territories, especially with the political division and the presence of two governments and entities. The external abuse come from the Israelis."

The drawings, Helu said, "reflect the human rights in living, personal safety, work, health, education, decision making, not to mention freedom of speech, of opinion, of travel, the right to dignity, citizenship, nationality and control over ones own fate."

He also mentioned that the PICCR and the OHCHR will honor the artists and will set up a mechanism to present the wall in different towns of the Strip, and perhaps in the West Bank as well – as a mobile Human Rights wall aiming to spread Human Rights awareness among the Palestinians. 

He stressed that the importance of this event also lies in its timing with the visit of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, to the Palestinian Territories, where he was shocked by what he saw on the ground of the suffering of the people especially in Gaza under siege.

The wall drew the attention of the citizens who stopped to watch the artists and talk to them about the meaning of their drawings. Even cars stopped to watch the event, which continued amid stormy weather conditions.

Bassem Boushnak, the manager of the PICCR offices in Gaza, said the Human Rights Wall carried a message he hoped would be delivered to the international community so that the latter would do its job in protecting the Palestinian people, and to the Israelis so they would live up to their obligations and end the daily abusive practices against the Palestinians. "I also hope this message will reach Hamas and Fateh so they can end the division which has added to the abuse," he said.

The wall will eventually also make its way to Geneva, headquarters of the OHCHR.

Imad Badwan, head of the artists' team, said, "We want to deliver a message to the Palestinian community, especially the authorities in Gaza and Ramallah, to invite them to work for national unity and to end the siege imposed on the Palestinian people."

It's tough being an artist in Gaza, he said. "The disastrous situation we are living does not allow us artists to think of our work and to express beautiful things."