Note: Based on the advice of South African experts, the fact-finding visit focused on land restitution, community participation and reconciliation in two districts, i.e. Gauteng (Johannesburg, Pretoria) and KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, Pietermaritzburg).
Tuesday, 11 November: Johannesburg
National Land Committee (NLC)
Guided field visit to Thembelihle and Soweto
Mr. Tozi Gwanya, Chief Commissioner on the Restitution of Land Rights
Ms. Ruth Hall (researcher), University of Western Cape
Participation in Evaluation/Planning Workshop
Ms. Thabi Shange, Chief, Provincial Commission-KZN
Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) and Partners
Field Visits Organized by AFRA
Cherryl Walker (research consultant, former RLCC for KwaZulu-Natal)
Cato Manor Visitor’s Center
Palestine Solidarity Committee
Muhammad Jaradat co-ordinator of BADIL’s Refugee Rights Campaign was denied exit from the occupied West Bank by both Jordanian and Israeli authorities.
Nihad Boqai (substitute head of delegation) BADIL’s research staff, a social science graduate from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Mr. Boqai was born and raised in the Galilee area inside Israel. His family was forcefully evicted from their home in Galilee in 1948 and has not been permitted to return to its home and land since them.
Suheil Meari board member of ADRID, the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel, works with the Palestinian Welfare Association in Jerusalem. He originates from the depopulated and destroyed village of Me’ar, Galilee and as Mr. Boqai' lives as an internally displaced Palestinian citizen of Israel.
Waji Atallah secretary of the Union of Youth Activity Centres, Palestine Refugee Camps (UYAC) and a member of BADIL’s General Assembly. He was born and raised in Kalandia camp (Jerusalem). His family originated from ‘Islin, a 1948 depopulated Palestinian village now located within Israeli-held western Jerusalem. The UYAC is a grassroots union with some 20,000 members who live in and outside refugee camps in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Muhammad Al-Lahham head of the Popular Committees--West Bank Refugee Camps and a member of BADIL’s General Assembly. He was born and raised in Deheisha camp, Bethlehem, West Bank. His family is originally from the depopulated village of Bayt ‘Itab now located inside Israel. The Popular Committees are service organizations operating in refugee camps in Palestine and in the Palestinian diaspora.
Anwar Hamam is a member of the Committee for the Defense of Palestinian Refugee Rights, a community initiative based in Nablus area refugee camps, West Bank and a member of the BADIL General Asembly. His family was evicted from the coastal town of Lod/Lydda in 1948. He was born and raised in Balata camp, Nablus.
Jaber Suleiman is an independent researcher with Palestinian NGOs and the Institute of Palestine Studies in Beirut, Lebanon and a founding member of AIDUN Group-Lebanon. He was evicted in 1948 as a child from his hometown Majdal in southern Palestine. Majdal is now known as Ashkelon, a large coastal town in Israel, just north of the Gaza Strip. His family fled to Saida (Sidon), Lebanon. AIDUN is an initiative launched in 2000 to raise awareness among Palestinian exiles and promote Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and property.
Dr. Mahmoud Issa is an independent researchers based in Denmark. He is active in Palestine right of return committees and Palestinian community organizations in Denmark and other parts of Europe. His family originates from the 1948 depopulated village Lubya in the Galilee. His family was forced to flee to Lebanon. Dr. Issa is the author of an extensive oral history research project about Lubya and is involved in the preparation of an ethnographic exhibition on pre-1948 Palestinian village life to be opened in Denmark.
Dr. Ayed Ahmad an obstetrician works and lives in Upsala, Sweeden where his is active in Palestinian organizations. He is from the village of Nahlin, West Bank. He was forced to leave Palestine after the 1967 Israeli occupation of West Bank from where he fled to Lebanon and later to Sweden.
Aisling Byrne is an economist and active in Al-Awda UK an orgnization in Britain advocating Palestinian refugees’ right of return. She was born in Ireland and spent part of her childhood in Kenya and southern Africa. She frequently visits Palestine and is a founding member and secretary of the Hope Foundation established in the UK in 2003 to support community initiatives for Palestinian refugee children in Palestine and in exile. She lives in London. (On a recent visit to the Middle East, Ms. Byrne was denied entry into West Bank by the Israeli authorities at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge while crossing from Jordan.
Majed Saleh active among Palestinian community organizations in the Netherlands, joined to complete the delegation following the loss of one of its members due to the Israeli and Jordanian travel restrictions in Palestine.