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Palestinian Students in Indonesia Share Meaning of Nakba Day


Suci Sekarwati


Nabiha Zain

16 May 2024 08:10 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Far from their homeland, dozens of Palestinians in Indonesia commemorated Nakba Day at the Palestinian Embassy office in Central Jakarta on May 15, 2024. Palestine is still under Israeli occupation.

A group of new Palestinian students were seen commemorating Nakba Day. They wore black and white suits and keffiyeh scarves. They will learn the Indonesian language for the first year of their stay in the capital city of Jakarta before receiving higher education at the Indonesia Defense University (IDU) with full scholarships. The high school graduates have lived in Jakarta for six months after passing the scholarship selection.

Jana, 18, a student from the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus, when asked what the Nakba meant to her as a Palestinian, said it made her sad. Because the current situation of Palestinians can all be traced back to that day.

The Nakba was a mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing of most Palestinians that took place in 1947-1948, before the establishment of the state of Israel. More than 750,000 Palestinians out of a total population of 1.4 million were forced to flee their homeland due to Israel's violent campaign at the time. Only 15 percent of the Palestinian population remained in the area now known as the Green Line.

Jana recalls the experience of her grandmother, who lived since before the Nakba began, so she saw the state of Palestine before the Israeli occupation. Jana's grandmother was able to travel freely around the world - a privilege that Palestinians do not have today. Israel even prevented them from visiting Jerusalem, and Jana revealed that she had never set foot there.

"The Nakba is a very sad memory, but it's also a reminder that we need to remember when this all started. We need to remind ourselves, 'Who are we as Palestinians?' Never forget that."

Six months into her stay in Jakarta, Jana is grateful to be studying on a scholarship and living in Indonesia when the situation in Palestine is deteriorating, and her loved ones are still in Nablus. Amidst the destruction of essential infrastructure, her friends were forced to attend classes via Zoom.

"I always missed and thought about my parents, family and friends, being six months away from them. It's very difficult, of course, for an 18-year-old," said Jana, now known as Juwita. "But like I said earlier, I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to study here freely, talk to people, learn about new cultures and things," she says.


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