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Photographing Arafat

This year marks the eleventh anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. The Palestinians commemorate his death every year, as Yasser Arafat is and considered by many as “the father of the people”. Everyone, regardless of their affiliation, appreciated and respected him, describing him as an unmatched leader.

Palestinian university students marked this day by wearing black and white kufiyahs, a symbol of the PLO and of Arafat himself, and many gathered on university campuses carrying pictures of him and chanting slogans that immortalise his memory. To this day, the mystery of his death still hasn’t be adequately solved, and the PA has been accused of neglecting this issue.

More recently, independent media institution Press House-Palestine, or Bait Al-Sahafa (BAS), launched an exhibition of pictures memorialising the late president’s memories.

The exhibition, entitled Pictures of the old man Abu Ammar by Palestinian photographer Jamal Arouri from the West Bank, included dozens of photographs documenting the besiegement of the late President at the Muqata’a compound in Ramallah.

In his speech opening the exhibition, Arouri said that the pictures reflect an important part of Yasser Arafat’s life, starting from the beginning of the besiegement to the moment of his death.

According to Arouri, the exhibition thus encapsulates the most important phase of the Palestinian struggle, starkly emphasising the fact that Arafat sacrificed his life for the Palestinian cause. The photos also highlight the destruction, demolition and brutality exercised by the Israeli occupation, and the parallels between the tactics used against “Abu Ammar” and those utilised every day against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

“We miss the martyr Yasser Arafat and all the Palestinian martyrs, and for the sake of their pure blood, we must continue our battle to restore our national rights,” Arouri concluded.

Images and story by MEMO photographer Mohammed Asad.

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