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Statement by Baladna on the occasion of International Youth Day
12/08/2013 - 15:41

Statement released by Baladna – Association for Arab Youth

on the occasion of International Youth Day

Baladna – Association for Arab Youth would like to take the opportunity offered by International Youth Day to send a greeting of appreciation and respect to Palestinian youth in all places of their struggle and steadfastness, in the 1948 and 1967 areas, and in the Palestinian refugee camps in the diaspora, especially in Syria at this present time. We must also pay tribute to the presence of Palestinian youth in the fields of political and social change. This presence shines strongly locally through the active role that the young men and women are playing in the ’48 areas, protesting against the Prawer Plan, the outstanding initiatives of the Naqab youth movement facing this plan, and the Return youth movement in the displaced villages of Iqrit and Kfar Biram which reclaimed the dream of return as a realistic possibility. These experiences and actions of Palestinian youth inside ’48 and in general are living proof of the youth’s will and ability to take responsibility and initiate to improve their situation and mobilize for their causes.

In addition to the achievements of Palestinian youth, our expectations of them, and the responsibilities they carry, we must use this occasion to highlight the importance of tending to the needs of the youth and their causes, and work to support the youth and address these needs, especially in the fields of education, employment and housing. Baladna has published a specialised study which aimed to understand those issues and needs in all their details. This study listened to the voice of youth through surveying the views of 1100 male and female students. One of the most striking results from this study in the education field was that Arab students blame the poor conditions of their education directly on the Arab education system, with 60% of respondents pointing out that they would have chosen different subjects if they had the opportunity to do so, but were held back by the lack of professional guidance and advice in Arab schools.

Through its projects and campaigns Baladna strives to encourage Palestinian youth to take a bigger and more active role in addressing the negative phenomena which are invading our society and to raise their voices loudly in the face of incidences of violence, and against different forms of discrimination against Arab women.

During this time in which our towns and villages are preparing for the storm of local authority elections we call on Arab youth to take an active role in stopping the sectarian and clan-based conflicts which can accompany this storm, to promote tolerance and acceptance of the other, and to encourage reason and objectivity in voting and other decisions. We call on our youth to make this period pass peacefully and to try and make our experience with it dignified and fruitful. On this occasion Baladna calls on the national political parties and civil society organisations to involve the youth in the decision- and change-making and give them the leading role which they deserve.