Since the completion of the first Freedom Ride, the Freedom Bus troupe has been on the move visiting communities across the West Bank. In November, the Freedom Bus partnered with students from BirZeit University, just outside Ramallah. The students who are part of the Juzoor/EWASH water justice advocacy programme joined the Freedom Bus in Faquaa and the Jordan Valley as part of our Ride for Water Justice, which also visited Battir, Bethlehem near the end of November. All three events succeeded in raising awareness about the water situation in all three locations. Additionally, the days with student participants from BirZeit University succeeded in fostering connections between Palestinian media students, international activists, and community members.
The Freedom Bus ended the year with a visit to Nabi Saleh, located in Area C. Palestinian society is divided into three “areas”, Area A (under full Palestinian civil and security control), B (under full Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control), and C (under full Israeli control – security, planning, and construction). In 2009 an Israeli settlement, now called Halamish, was built in Nabi Saleh claiming the one spring on which the village relied. The spring, which was privately owned by Mustafa Tamimi, was an obvious affront to the sovereignty and rights of the village. Two year later, Israeli soldiers shot a tear gas canister into Mustafa Tamimi’s face causing severe wounds and eventually death. This past December the community of Nabi Saleh came together to pay tribute to Mustafa and Rushdi Tamimi, two unarmed civilians shot and killed during, regular, peaceful demonstrations in Nabi Saleh. The day included a Playback performance by the Freedom Bus troupe, Dabke (Palestinian folk tradition), and a play by local children. The Freedom Bus troupe was honored to be the only group from outside Nabi Saleh to be given time on stage, demonstrating the communities understanding and value of the role Playback Theatre plays in remembering, grieving, and affirming identity.
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