‘Lost Youth – Songs of Solidarity’ is a benefit CD for a young Palestinian theatre performer imprisoned since 2005. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this collection will also go towards highlighting the child prisoner issue.
In 2005 A’edoon, a Palestinian youth theatre group from Balata Refugee Camp in the West Bank, visited Ireland, Scotland and England to perform ‘dabke’ dance and drama at local festivals. Organisers had seen the trip as a chance to demonstrate to a foreign audience the richness and vibrancy of Palestinian culture. It was also an opportunity to take a large group of young people away from the dangers and stresses of a life enclosed by occupation and conflict.
As the group crossed between the West Bank and Jordan, a 15-year-old performer was taken away by soldiers. “After that he disappeared out of our eyes. We were crying and scared about him. When we were in Jordan we heard that Mohammed had been arrested. The whole situation became like a funeral, everybody was crying” said A’edoon co-ordinator Abu Hakim. Mohammed was kept in interrogation for over two months and ultimately sentenced by a military court. He remains in jail now.
As well as dancing and acting, Mohammed made documentary videos about life in Balata Camp and had been a youth reporter covering regular military invasions. Balata is the largest and poorest camp in the West Bank. Most of its population originate from around Yafa on the Mediterranean coast, but now over 30,000 residents are crammed into narrow alleyways and crumbling homes. Mohammed had never seen the sea, and rarely left the city over the previous five years. He grew up in the “Hashashin” quarter, the most deprived part of the camp. Like many people in Balata, he shared his parents’ two bedroom flat with eight brothers and seven sisters. Having witnessed friends killed on the streets, Mohammed had resolved to train as a journalist in the hope of conveying the reality of Balata and Palestine to international audiences. He hoped his journey to Ireland would help spread their stories abroad, but he himself never made it across the border.
Rich, passionate and absorbing, the album contains an eclectic mix of songs and tunes from a variety of genres. Traditional Irish and Basque tracks nestle comfortably between thought-provoking political folk and Palestinian hip-hop contributions.