Forum – “Restoring hope through international law – is the right of return for Palestinian refugees necessary for peace?”

3-5pm, Saturday 21 June, 2014  in Leichhardt Town Hall

330px-Aida_Refugee_Camp_EntranceOur speakers will discuss the sometimes controversial, internationally recognized right of refugees to return to areas from which they have fled or been forced to leave.

Should refugees be compensated  for what they have lost?

Should they be allowed to return home?

Should they be allowed to repossess their properties or should they instead receive compensation and support for resettlement?

What if their homes are gone? Have been demolished to make way for an airport?

Refugee rights derive from a number of legal sources, including customary international law, international humanitarian law (governing rights of civilians during war), and human rights law.

Our speakers are:

Samah Sabawi

samah_EventThumbSamah Sabawi is an Australian-Palestinian writer, playwright an political analyst with years of experience and special expertise in human rights.

Samah was born in Palestine but her family was displaced as a result of Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip in 1967. She lived with her family in a refugee camp, moved into the Arabian Gulf and later migrated to Australia. She still has family living under Israeli siege in Gaza. Her work reflects her passion about her heritage and her desire for a peaceful resolution that is based on justice and respect of human rights for all.

She is a policy advisor to the Palestinian policy network AlShabaka and has formerly served as executive director and media spokesperson for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR) and as public advocate for Australians for Palestine.


Dr Marcelo Svirsky

uow125666Marcelo a political scientist who works at the School of History & Politics, University of Wollongong, where he  teaches subjects in International Studies.  He grew up in Argentina but moved to Israel where he completed his education at Technion and Haifa Universities.

As an activist, Marcelo has long been involved  in the Palestinian struggle for peace with justice. Later this year, Marcelo  will walk from Sydney to the Federal Parliament in Canberra to raise awareness about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, (BDS), in Australia.
His research interests are primarily invested on theories and the practice of political activism, revolutionary action, and social transformation. His current research and works in progress include a special issue of the journal Settler Colonial Studies and ‘The Ecology of Interculturalism in Israel’


Rev Rod Benson (moderator)

Rod Benson SmlRod Benson is an ethicist and public theologian with the Tinsley Institute, based at Morling College. As National Coordinator of “EAPPI Australia” he has a strong commitment to a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions.

“EAPPI Australia” is part of the international Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel which brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.

He has previously pastored Baptist churches in Queensland and NSW, and from 2004–2007 was founding Director of the Centre for Christian Ethics, now part of the Tinsley Institute. Rod serves as Public Affairs Director for the NSW Council of Churches and public issues spokesperson for Australian  political coBaptist Ministries. He writes regularly on ethics and public affairs for print and online publications, as well as delivering a political commentary spot on radio.

Nahed Fraitekh

nahedlrNahed Fraitekh is a lawyer from Palestine who lives in Occupied East Jerusalem. Nahed has delivered training in  International Humanitarian Rights for the Al-Haq association. In her work for the Palestinian Legislative Council, where she was the head of the women’s and children’s department for 12 years,  she was able to advocate for women’s rights and children’s their rights.

Nahed is now completing her Ph.D. in constitutional law at UNSW. At the forum, she will discuss the implications of international law regarding Right of Return for refugees.

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