Runners From Palestine Journey to Beirut to Exercise Their Freedom to Move

Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe

Republication of this story is welcome and encouraged. Details are here.

BEIRUT, LEBANON – Seasoned marathon runners often talk about hitting “the wall”, that latter stage of a race when mental and physical barriers move from being difficult to really, really difficult.

Organizers and participants of the now annual Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem have additional walls, very real ones, to consider before they even take their first step. One, the Separation Barrier that divides the West Bank city, is among the reasons that 3,200 runners participated in the race last April to claim, for at least a few hours, their freedom to move.

Moved by the Right to Movement“We don’t even control a 42.2 kilometer stretch of road in the West Bank,” said Diala Isid, an organizer of the race. “So runners need to pass the same route four times in order to finish the full marathon. Because that’s the only road that we are in control over, and the only road that we can close because of the Israeli occupation.”

Isid, an architect from Ramallah, was among a dozen runners from Palestine who came to race in last Sunday’s Banque du Liban Beirut Marathon and to raise awareness of Right to Movement, a nonprofit organization that uses running to focus attention on what it sees as one of the most basic of human rights: the right to move.

Article 13 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement”. But, organizers say, not everyone has that option.

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