Running In The Shadow Of Occupation

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Photographer Lasse Bak Mejlvang | Tomorrow Management

The Israeli occupation of Palestine has many faces. But so has the resistance to the occupation. In the ancient city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, thousand of people from Palestine and many other countries around the world are making a statement and showing solidarity with the Palestineans. By running. 

It’s 7.55 AM and the sun is already heating up Manger Square in central Bethlehem. The loud music from the big stage mixes with the cheering of approximate 6000 runners of all ages, colours and nationalities. 5 minutes till the race begins. Ready, set, go. It’s marathon day in Palestine.

It all started in 2013 when two Danish entrepeneurs, Signe Fischer Smidt and Lærke Hein together with Palestinian activist George Zeidan, started the community Right to Movement and organised the first marathon in Palestine. The idea was to shed light on the lack of freedom of movement which the Palestinians are facing – not least because of the 708 kilometres (440 mi) “security wall”, Israel has constructed. A wall zigzagging through occupied Palestinian territory dividing Palestinian cities, neighbourhoods, villages and land. The activists from Right to Movement planned the route, so that participants would run along the wall, pass check points and illegal settlements, that way showing the world what the occupation looks like.

The first marathon in 2013 gathered around 700 participants. Today the event is a tradition that has grown in numbers every year and 2017 marked the year with the most participants, as around 6000 ran the streets of Bethlehem – a vast majority of them: Palestinians. 2017 also marks the first year with The Palestine Olympic Committee taking over the organisation of the marathon.

Right to Movement, even though out of the Palestinian Marathon, continues to run to manifest the basic human right: Freedom to movement. As the NGO states in it’s manifesto: “We run to build bridges instead of walls”.

You can find Right to Movement communities in several cities in Palestine, Denmark, the US, England, Ghana and Jordan.

Photographer Lasse Bak Mejlvang | Tomorrow Management  //  Words Alexander Nicolas Truelsen

Photographer Lasse Bak Mejlvang | Tomorrow Management  //  Words Alexander Nicolas Truelsen

More info on Right to Movement here: http://righttomovement.org/

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