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Conference for Palestinians Abroad kicks off in Istanbul

As Palestinians from across the globe entered the Palestine Abroad conference hall in their thousands, each of them had their own their own story, their own reasons for their passion, but entered with one aim: to reaffirm their love and hope for Palestine.

Even before it began, the conference, which is taking place in Istanbul over the next few days, was buzzing with energy. Palestine flags were being held by proud Palestinians and Palestine supporters, with strangers, old friends and family members embracing each other, telling their stories and listening to each other with open hearts.

“I’m here because I won’t forget. We can’t forget,” said 40-year-old Tagheed Saadawi who came to the conference from Malaysia. “The Palestinian diaspora must come together, we’re all passionate individually, but together, just look at us. Look at the way we preserve our culture. We are important to the community, but we must rise up to our responsibilities.”

“We have an important role to play being abroad,” said 27-year-old Mohammed Kamal from Doha. He is originally from Khan Younis, Gaza and refuses to believe that Palestinians will ever give up. “We want our right to return. We want a free Palestine and we will never give up. The country is ours no matter what and we will never forget this. Whether it is us, our kids, or grand kids, we will see liberation”, he added.

Even non-Palestinians showed the same passion. “I’m Iraqi, but Palestine is still close to my heart,” said 40-year-old Sara. She explained how her husband is a Palestinian who took refuge in Iraq as a child. “When we left Iraq after the [US-led 2003] war started, we escaped to Syria. Then the Syrian war started and here we are in turkey. As a refugee, I know the importance of holding onto your roots.”

Despite the difference in stories, the nationalities and the many opinions flying around the room, one consensus is clear and universal:

“The people want a free Palestine!”

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