“I am not a heroine, I am doing my best I can to be the voice of those real heroes and heroines struggling in my country.”
My name is Aghssan Barghouthi, a 26 year old woman who was born and raised in Occupied Palestine. I studied journalism and political science in Birziet University.
78 percent of my country was Occupied in 1948, turning the country into what has now become known as Israel. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza and other disputed Arabs regions, such as south Lebanon and parts of Syria.
Since this time, Israel continues its colonization project to transfer the Palestinian people out of the region and occupy the rest of Palestine. The Israeli government confiscates Palestinian land, builds settlements and connects them by a road network for the exclusive use of settlers. It has also begun building an apartheid wall which spans 800 km, annexing around 50 percent of the West Bank.
In addition, there are more than 4,000 prisoners in the Israeli jails including women and children who are some times under 16 years old.
As a Palestinian living under occupation, I endure daily difficulties and challenges. I share similar stories to others in the West Bank – I was raised in family where my father was arrested, and then my mother and my older sister when she was only 8 months old were detained as pressure on my father. Two of my extended family members have spent more than 30 years in the Israeli jails, and many other friends and cousins around me share similar stories, so I have always had to think how to spread my people’s stories and this daily truth. I chose to study journalism as a way to share my country’s cause with the world.
In conjunction with my studies, I’ve been a volunteer with Stop The Wall Campaign, and in 2009 I started my work there as Youth Coordinator and then as the Media Coordinator. Joining the campaign was another way for me to fight against the occupation along with a great team. My role involves sharing the life stories of Palestinian people under occupation with the world and to expose the apartheid system that has been implemented against my people by the Israeli Occupation.
As I never belonged to any Palestinian political party, I’ve always been looking for a body which I can be part of as a Palestinian woman, a body which will respect my point of view as a person. Many Palestinian youth share my idea, we found that the only way to express our views is to create our own youth group since we lost our trust in the political parties and the Palestinian Authority. We felt that we have to change the Palestinian situation that is a result of the unfair conventions between the Palestinian authority and the occupation authority.
Because we do believe that in order to end the Israeli occupation we have to be united people, we have protested against the division between Fatah and Hamas Parties, against the conditional fund, against the normalization, and also in solidarity with our prisoners who some of them spent more than 20 years in the prison and against the negotiations in which we find that the Palestinian people always come out as the weaker side.
By participating in the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program, it is a great opportunity for me to share my stories and learn from others. The Nobel Women’s Initiative is a great team, and it is exciting to learn from their experience and knowledge. I feel lucky to have this chance to come to Canada and share the stories of Palestine with other students and activists.