Rani, a palestinian story

Rani, a Palestinian story

I was born in the village of Bil' in in 1981. Bil' in is a small and poor village of the West Bank in Palestine. In the past, the 1700 inhabitants of the village lived on agriculture and on the manufacturing of olive oil, until the occupation and the Israeli colonies seize us 70 % of our lands, shave our beautiful olive trees and leave us unemployed.
I ended my examination in electronics at the high school with the honors, I was going to return at the university when the Second Intifada and the occupation put a definitive term in all my dreams.

On September 30th, 2000, I participated in a pacifist demonstration in Ramallah against Ariel Sharon's intervention in the mosque Al Aqsa of Jerusalem, the third sanctuary of the Islam. The Israeli soldiers then began firing live bullets on the demonstrators who for the greater part were not armed students. They killed number of us and I was one of the numerous wounded persons this day, this day which will change my life for ever. A said bullet " butterfly " ("butterfly" because it swirls on itself once it reached target and cause internal devastations) entered the base of my neck and went out in my back damaging 3 of my vertebras and most of my digestive organs, making of me one of the martyrs of Palestine. After a long coma, 8 operations and one year in intensive care at the hospital of Amman in Jordan; I am paralyzed for life, I lost the memory and was incapable to speak during years.
I lived henceforth on a wheelchair, I can use only a single valid hand. Nevertheless, it does not prevent me from claiming my opinion and from saying NO to the occupation, NO to the oppression, NO to the injustice, NO to the political detention, NO to the wall of the apartheid, NO to illegal settlements… I want to believe in Peace, in Freedom and in the independence of my country after more than 63 years of occupation.
I continu to participate in demonstrations, which the committee of pacifist popular resistance of my village and the others organize every Friday and days of celebrations with international activists as well as Israeli which come to show their solidarity and to support the Palestinian people. We protest against the racist wall which deforms our landscape and eliminates our liberties, the seizure of our lands, our water, the wild construction of colonies in occupied territories and the constant aggressive repression of the state of Israel to the Palestinians. Our small village is surrounded with 4 illegal colonies in continual expansion. The colony of Modiin Illit, the biggest of occupied territories, is built on our lands where live now more than 45 000 Jews only! These colonies and the dividing wall guarded by the Israeli army are total violations of the international laws.

I am always on the front; it has been 6 years since I learn about the photography thanks to the assistant of numerous journalists, with my camera I want to testify of our everyday life. I dedicate in the cause body and soul, my life does not have importance anymore, I am not afraid because I once already died. My photos are my weapons so that the world don't forget us, because the oblivion kills the hope and the hope it's Life. Since, I was hurt numerous times by plastic bullets and grenades, suffered from teargas… The soldiers have by 3 times broaken the wheelchair on which I was and even 2 professional cameras offered by my friends, but I am persistent and shall never give up my mission of information it's my purpose and my reason for living. Actually, today I have another reason, 3 years ago I was lucky to marry with an adorable woman who understands my situation and God blessed us with children, triplets, a boy and 2 girls.
In spite of all the difficulties, the wounds, the repressions, the night raids, the arrests forced of more than half of my village and my family, my small 17-year-old brother was arrested this May without any reason, we indeed have no piece of news and the death of my friends such Bassem Abu Rahmah and her sister Jawaher, shooted down by a teargas of high swiftness during one of our demonstrations …I am determined to fight peacefully and to resist against the injustice. My father Wageed is a poet who speaks perfectly Hebrew, my older brother Ibrahim is an artist who gets back the ammunitions which the soldiers throw at us to create work of art. We travelled in Europe to present to the world the movie of " Bill' in my love ". Things exchange little by little, I keep hope. I am very proud of my family and to be Palestinian.
Together we continue the fight, by informing our situation so that our children live in a future of love, peace and freedom.

Rani Burnat

" We suffer from the incurable ill which is called the Hope " Mahmoud Darwich (Palestinian)

I was making a photo documentary on " Women fighting for peace in the Israëlo-Palestinian conflict " for a French NGO when I met Rani Burnat at the weekly demonstration of his village. His story touched me deeply and the fact that he is a photographer gave me at once the desire to realize a story on his life. Rani and his wife are exactly my age, 30 years old, I would have lived the same experiences if I had been born Palestinian. We soon became very good friends. They kindly invited me to their home during more than 2 weeks, into their small house in the heart of the conflict. I thus had the privilege of living their everyday life with them and to get to see moments of their intimacy. Rani can't work, his specialized equipment (wheelchair, bed...) is very expensive, his passion for photography only gives him very little income in a country plagued by unemployment. He does voluntary work for the Committee of popular resistance of his village and sells a few CD's of his photos to the foreign activists present in the demonstrations. Rani and his family live thus mainly from the donations of international associations, which are more and more rare in this period of crisis. For years I have worked as a kind of "photo-activist" by offering my help voluntarily to various associations during my photo documentaries, seeing this most committed "photo-activism" of  Rani, who shows with his excellent eye in every demonstration alone on his wheelchair in the middle of teargas and bullets, with his single valid hand, gave me an infinite respect for this amazing man.
To see his work: http: // friendsofrani.wordpress.com