London – We Are Not Numbers, a project of Euro-Med Monitor, has launched a weeks-long advocacy tour in several British cities during which project members share testimonies about the impact of Israel’s 16-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, in an effort to publicise the human stories behind the numbers of victims in the media.
The tour is being carried out in collaboration with British organisation Amos Trust, and will last for about three weeks. During this time, project members will travel to seven British cities to speak to parliamentarians, human rights and community activists, academics, journalists, and international organisation workers about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli restrictions that have been imposed on them since the start of Israel’s blockade in 2006.
The advocacy tour takes place during the holiday season, which Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not usually able to celebrate due to the Israeli segregation policy; the policy prevents the vast majority of the population from moving between cities, visiting religious sites, and spending time with their families during one of the most important times of the year, both religiously and socially.
We Are Not Numbers Board Member Ahmed Alnaouq said, “An entire generation in the Gaza Strip grew up under the Israeli blockade, and a large portion of the modern generation has never left, due to the difficulty of travel procedures because of Israeli restrictions on the right to freedom of movement.
“The tour was launched as part of an advocacy campaign to raise awareness about the disastrous effects of Israel’s 16-year-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, at a time when the vast majority of the population is unable to travel and move freely,” Alnaouq added.
Alnaouq discussed the origins of We Are Not Numbers, which was launched by Euro-Med Monitor in early 2015, as well as the project as an incubator for young victims of the occupation, who can use writing and art to express their suffering and speak for themselves and their communities at a time when international media treats Palestinian victims merely as numbers rather than humans beings with unique stories.
“The significance of We Are Not Numbers stems from the fact that it connects the besieged Gaza Strip’s youth with the outside world on cultural, literary, and political levels,” Alnaouq said, “and makes them feel that they have bypassed the restrictions imposed on the Strip’s borders, thus reaching the rest of the world, whose language they can speak, through training provided by the project.”
For his part, project advisor Issam Adwan, said: “Writing stories of victims obscured by the numbers in the media is a tough road filled with tears and pain, as you must focus on certain stories and human aspects while millions of other details remain unspoken, understood only by those who have lived them.”
The project was launched by Euro-Med Monitor in January 2015, just a few months after the 50-day Israeli military attack on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014; the military attack caused the deaths of 2,147 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians, including women and children.
Through training young victims in journalistic and nonfiction writing, including poetry, and connecting them with English-speaking international writers and experts from around the world, We Are Not Numbers aims to tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news about victims of violations. The advocacy tour is scheduled to last about 20 days (until mid-December), and will visit London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Durham, Leeds, and Bristol.