This week, Al-Marsad – the Arab Centre for Human Rights in the Golan Heights will begin the second leg of its advocacy tour in Europe to discuss the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan. Al-Marsad director Dr Nizar Ayoub and urban planner Dr Nazeh Brik will be in Belgium to speak about the experiences of the native Syrian population under the Israeli occupation. This year marks the 50 year anniversary of the occupation, which started in June 1967.

The first part of the advocacy tour took place in the UK and Ireland. It included meetings with the British and Irish governments, politicians and NGO representatives. In addition, Dr Ayoub gave lectures at Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway.

In Belgium, Dr Ayoub and Dr Brik will be meeting with members of the European Parliament, EU officials, EU Member State officials and NGO representatives.

The main focus of the tour is to raise awareness of the discriminatory policies of the Israeli occupying authorities, which violate international law and the rights of Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan. Major issues affecting the native Syrian population include: the exploitation of water and other natural resources, the placement of landmines in Syrian residential areas, severe restrictions on the expansion of Syrian villages, and travel restrictions. The tour also highlights how the Israeli government is exploiting the ongoing armed conflict in Syria to strengthen its hold on the occupied Syrian Golan.

Al-Marsad is also addressing the policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel against the native Syrian population of the Syrian Golan during and after the 1967 war. This resulted in the displacement and forced transfer of 95% of the Syrian population, the destruction of 340 villages and farms, the construction of illegal settlements and the transfer of thousands of Israeli settlers.

Al-Marsad will be in Europe until 17 October.

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