The Palestine Right to Return Coalition/ Al Awda
International Solidarity Movement is first recipient of PRRC/Al-Awda Rachel Corrie Award (given at the annual meeting in Toronto, June 20-22, 2003)
The first Rachel Corrie Award given to the International Solidarity Movement
About Rachel Corrie and the award in her honor
Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American college student, was the first non- Palestinian peace activist to be killed in the Occupied Territories by the Israeli Defense Forces. On March 16, 2003, Rachel was in the Al-Salam neighborhood of Rafah, in southern Gaza, where she had been for seven weeks as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement. In an effort to save the family home of a Palestinian pharmacist about to be razed, she interposed herself between the house and the Israeli military bulldozer. Photographs of the encounter, show her before the huge machine in a bright orange jacket, clearly visible. The massive machine rolled over her and then backed again. She thus shared the fate of some 2300 Palestinians (the vast majority of them civilians) who were murdered by Israeli troops or settlers since the onset of the Palestinian uprising for freedom (Intifada) in September, 2000.
PRRC (http://Al-Awda.org, Al-Awda is Arabic for “THE RETURN”) is a broad-based non-partisan global democratic association of thousands of grassroots activists and organizational representatives concerned for the Palestinian Refugees Right of Return. The purposes for which PRRC is formed are educational and charitable and relate to human rights of Palestinian Refugees. With active chapters and committees in over 20 countries and 30 states in the U.S., PRRC is the largest grass-root network for Palestinian rights.
The Palestine Right to Return Coalition instituted the Rachel Corrie award to honor non-Palestinian individuals or groups who demonstrated exceptional dedication to the cause of Palestinian rights especially the rights of refugees. It will be awarded yearly at our annual convention.
The 2003 Recipient of the Rachel Corrie Award
The Rachel Corrie Award for 2003 will be conferred upon the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) at the annual convention held in Toronto, June 20- 22. The ISM has organized Palestinian and international activists of all ages and faiths to use nonviolent direct action in protecting the human rights and lives of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Since its inception two years ago, hundreds of ISM volunteers like Rachel, acted as witnesses and shields. They have escorted thousands of Palestinian children to safety in streets rendered dangerous by Israel’s heavy military presence, protected many critically needed wells, and prevented the demolitions of numerous homes. The ISM also draws attention to the daily violence committed by the Israeli occupation forces. By attempting to mitigate the effects of the occupation, often at considerable personal risk, they fulfill an essential task which, in different circumstances, would be undertaken by more formal international bodies.
The surest sign of the efficacy of their work has been the response of the Israeli government, which has in the last year detained and deported many ISM members, hectored and harassed them, and attempted to sharply restrict their movements. After the death of Rachel Corrie, two more members have been shot, one lies in an apparently irreversible coma, while the other suffered severe facial trauma. The Israeli government has denounced the ISM as “interfering” with army operations, which, in the deepest sense, is precisely true, entirely consistent with their aims, and wholly in the spirit of Rachel Corrie, whose memory we honor with this award.