Reporter's diary: Ayman Mohyeldin

Al Jazeera's correspondent reports from Gaza on Prisoners' Remembrance Day.

    Graffiti on a wall in Gaza shows an ageing Gilad Shalit

    More from Ayman

     Updates on Twitter.com
     Previous diary entries

    During Israel's war on Gaza last January, Ayman was one of the only international correspondents able to cover the story from inside the Gaza Strip.

    He now writes on the Prisoners' Remembrance Day, commemorated by thousands of Palestinians demanding freedom for their loved ones.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Imprisoned but not forgotten. It is a motto that resonates across the Palestinian territories when it comes to Prisoners' Remembrance Day.

    Every year, thousands of Palestinians commemorate the day by holding rallies and candlelight vigils on April 16, with further events held on Apfril 17. Residents demand freedom for their loved ones - many of whom have been held in Israeli jails without charge. According to human rights organisations some are regularly tortured and abused.

    Throughout its 42-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has detained at least a quarter of a million Palestinians. Today, nearly 10,000, including men, women and children, are behind bars in Israel.

    What makes this year's remembrance day so significant was that hundreds of Palestinian families were hoping that by April 17, their loved ones would be freed as part of a deal in exchange for the release of an Israeli soldier held since 2006.

    That soldier is Gilad Shalit, a name that has become known the world over.

    The deal never materialised, so, as a reminder to Israeli governments which have so far refused to release Palestinian prisoners, a mural in a Gaza refugee camp has been painted depicting Shalit - looking 30-years older. The painting reflects a common public sentiment here that he should be held as long as Palestinians continue to languish in Israeli jails.

    So on this day, Palestinians reaffirm their pledge to not forget those in Israeli custody. A march to the International Red Cross building kicked off a day of public rallies, a candlelight vigil and calls for the release of all prisoners.

    It is often a sombre day for the prisoners' families but one of great importance to Palestinian society. Their struggle for national freedom is directly linked to the individual freedom of their Palestinian prisoners.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.