pal.menPalestinian refugees of Sabra and Sahtila Refugee Camp commemorated Palestinian Land Day (Yawm Al-Ard) on Sunday. Every year on March 30th, Palestinians around the world commemorate Land day as a protest against Israeli appropriation of Palestinian Lands. The event that took place in Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut was organized by the Student Forum  initiated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) 6 months ago. “The Student Forum is totally independent and the PFLP has no influence over it. The forum was initiated but not controlled by the PFLP.” said Ziad Oudeh, the general coordinator of the Student Forum and the main organizer of the event in Shatila Refugee Camp. The event started at 12:00pm with an exhibition of photos and drawings by refugee kids. “Our main goal is to educate people about Palestinian culture and traditions through art and music. We aim to bring back tradition to the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon. Although we are centered in Shatila Refugee Camp but we target all Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.” Oudeh assured.

People from different refugee camps and other Lebanese citizens started arriving in the next couple of hours. At 4:30pm, the musical event started with Mahmoud Darwish poetry reading while flute music was playing. The singing band of the PFLP followed the poetry and stressed on the Palestinian unity through their songs. After that the audience enjoyed Sabreen Lobbani, a solo 10 years old girl singer.

Then Al-Awdi (the return) troupe performed the Palestinian folkloric dance, Dabkeh. And finally, the event was ended with the Palestinian hip hop band from Burj Al-Barajneh refugee camp, I-Voice who performed songs about Palestinian refugees, the right of return and Gaza.

A hip hop band, participated in the action through a new style of music resistance.

“Rap is a tool of freedom of expression. We have a message to deliver through our music, a message of solidarity and unity. And a refugee camp is where we come from and refugees are the right audience. While rap might be considered an untraditional form of music, we try to make it more local and acceptable by singing in Arabic and about directly related to the Palestinian refugee community.” said Yassin and Mohammad from I-Voice.

The crowd highly engaged with the hip hop music and seemed to be enjoying it. After the performance by I-Voice, teenagers were approaching to talk to them about their music. “I-Voice’s rap music reflects the youth vision of the cause. And the rap performance was important for such an event. It is untraditional, diverse and productive.

Plus, mixing traditional culture with modern music is very important.” Said Iman Al-Bachir, a young lady from the audience. And many seemed to agree with her. The Palestinian refugee youth are still holding to the same political messages as their parents and grandparents. They all want to fight for their right of return. However, they found their own ways to reflect it through cultural, folkloric, traditional and untraditional events.

Bahaa AlKayyali, The Palestine Telegraph Reporter in Lebanon