About Palestine Unlocked Festival – celebrating life and culture

Organisations and individuals from across Oxford came together to hosting the city’s first festival to celebrate Palestinian life and culture in 2015. Entitled ‘Palestine Unlocked’, the festival ran during the month of June in a range of city venues from Pegasus Theatre in East Oxford to Barefoot Books in Summertown including the Phoenix Picturehouse, several Oxford churches and colleges, the Town Hall and Bonn Square. With 2015’s success, fantastic feedback and wonderful events, the group came together again to plan Palestine Unlocked 2016; a mini-fest with a BIG agenda during 21st – 23rd May 2016. Click here to see What’s On

The idea of the festival was the brainchild of the late Oxford doctor and pioneering humanitarian, Dr Tim Lusty, who made a fact-finding mission to Palestine in October 2013. On his return he teamed up with Revd Canon Andrew Bunch to get an initiative off the ground in Oxford to draw wide public attention to the realities and injustices of life in Palestine. Sadly Tim Lusty died of cancer in January 2015 but after ensuring a festival planning group was in place.

The festival is strongly endorsed by the former Oxford Brookes scholar, Hassan Al Hallaq, whose wife Samar, their two sons and unborn child were all killed in Gaza last July when Israeli shelling demolished their refuge. Samar and her two small boys had spent the summer of 2013 in Oxford with Hassan who went on to win the university’s Technologies Prize for outstanding achievement in the Masters Degree of Science in e-Business. Samar had become involved with the Oxford-coordinated Palestine Tapestry History Project and had stitched a panel which will be part of the photo exhibition of the tapestry project to be mounted in St Giles’ Church for the festival.

The chair of the festival organising group and vicar of St Margaret’s Church, Revd Canon Andrew Bunch, says:

“The aim of the festival is to celebrate the under-celebrated culture of the people of Palestine as well as to bring home the realities of Palestinian life under occupation today. We hope to engage people who may shy away from the subject of Palestine or who remain unaware of what is going on there.

“We also want to highlight valuable ongoing Oxford-Palestine links, for example in health care and through the Oxford Ramallah Friendship Association, which deserve to be more widely known”.

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