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Palestinians in the UK speak out for the right to freedom of speech

The fundamental right to free expression, guaranteed by article 10 of the Human Rights Act, is first and foremost the right to “receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority”. We write to provide news of our existence, in the face of current attempts to negate it.

As British Palestinians, some citizens, others still stateless refugees, we remain bound by our common history, when previous generations of Palestinians were violently denied the right to self-determination by the British colonial power ruling Palestine from 1918. Deprived of our sovereign rights to our land, we were dispossessed of it by force in the establishment of the state of Israel, which the British colonial occupation oversaw through 1947 to 1948. There exist vast bodies of publicly available records, scholarly evidence and official testimonies to affirm these facts

The reality of the Palestinian people’s ongoing dispossession belongs to the public space: Palestinian people have the right to impart information about these present and past injustices, as every British citizen has the right to hear this information, along with the ideas and arguments that emerge directly from it.

Accordingly, any use by public bodies of the IHRA examples on antisemitism that either inhibits discussion relating to our dispossession by ethnic cleansing, when Israel was established, or attempts to silence public discussions on current or past practices of settler colonialism, apartheid, racism and discrimination, and the ongoing violent military occupation, directly contravenes core rights. First, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, who remain protected by international laws and conventions; and second, the rights of all those British citizens who stand by our side, in the solidarity of a common humanity.

We call on public bodies to actively protect and to promote accurate information about current and past events in the life of the Palestinian people, as part of Britain’s ongoing, and outstanding, colonial debt.

Omar Al-Qattan Chairman of the board of trustees, AM Qattan Foundation,Atallah Said Chairman, British Palestinian Policy Council, Professor Kamel Hawwash University of Birmingham, Professor Karma Nabulsi Univerity of Oxford, Nadia Hijab Author and human rights advocateDr Aimee ShalanCharity chief executiveBen Jamal Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Mazen Masri Managing director, Edgo, philanthropistSawsan Asfari Philanthropist, founder educational charitiesZaher Birawi Chairman,Europal Forum, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub Barrister, Professor Suleiman SharkhUniversity of Southhampton, Professor Izzat Darwazeh UCL, Dr Adam HaniehReader in development, Soas, Dr Dina Matar Soas, Feras Abu Helal Editor-in-chief, journalistDr Nimer Sultany Senior lecturer in public law, Soas, Dr Ghada Karmi Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter,Akram Salhab Refugee and migrant organiserKarl Sabbagh Author and publisher, Dr Ahmed Khalidi Academic visitor, St Antony’s College, Oxford, Samir Eskanda Musician, Selma Dabbagh Author, Ahmed Masoud Writer and director, Omar Shweiki Director, HE educational charity, Hanna Khalil Playwright, Kareem Samara Musician Ahmed Ziat Humanitarian aid coordinator

  • This letter was published in the Guardian on 31.07.2018, and can be found here.