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We Palestinians will never tire of telling our story!

June 1, 2016, midnight

The fact that a British-Palestinian school girl was crowned regional finalist for speaking so passionately and so eloquently about the suffering of Palestinians demonstrates that our voice, as a nation, is being heard more loudly and clearly every day in the most unexpected places. The fact that she was silenced and stopped in her tracks by the institutional anti-Palestinian discrimination that haunts so many parts of British public life also shows that we, as Palestinians, still have a lot of work to do. But we will never tire of this work because the oppression we suffer is real and our cause is just. We will never give up the fight for our human rights and a state of our own.          Manuel Hassassian

The Palestinian Mission UK condemns the decision of Speakers Trust of the Jack Petchey Foundation to silence British-Palestinian school girl, Leanne Mohamad. Leanne won the regional final of the ‘Speak Out’ Challenge in a speech entitled ‘Birds not Bombs’, which was about being a Palestinian and being denied human rights. She talked of the injustice of living in fear of violence and about health inequalities where Palestinians in Gaza are unable to receive proper medical treatment.

Her winning speech has been erased from the Jack Petchey’s ‘Speak Out’ Challenge website and she has been told she will not go through to compete at the Grand Final. This was due to a complaint by Edgar Davidson, an anti-Palestinian blogger, who recommends articles on his blog which deny the existence of Palestinians!

As a charity, The Jack Petchey Foundation funds the world’s biggest youth speaking event and helps young British children from diverse backgrounds to develop their confidence and communication skills. Surely it should help assert and give a platform to voices which are marginalized like those of the Palestinians but to the dismay of many, the charity has been intimidated by a blogger with extreme views.

It is a great shame that such a charity that has helped so many young people, sees fit to silence a young voice, that of a British-Palestinian school girl, whose family are refugees from Palestine and, before they came to Britain, lived in terrible conditions in Burj Al Barajneh Refugee Camp in Lebanon. Last year her baby cousin died through lack of medical facilities in Gaza which has been blockaded by Israel for nearly ten years. Surely it is exactly such disenfranchised voices that The Jack Petchey Foundation should aim to magnify, not silence.

We are dismayed and unequivocally denounce the decision of the Speakers Trust of The Jack Petchey Foundation. Despite this and all such similar ploys to negate Palestinian history and suffering, Palestinians will never be silenced and will never tire of telling the world about the injustices against them. They will continue to tell their story and continue to speak out!

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