It is with very great sadness that I reflect here on the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the Arab Israeli actor and one of the founders of the Freedom Theatre, who was killed on the 4th April in Jenin. He was shot by a masked gunman who fired five bullets into the window of his car.
The Freedom Theatre has reported this tragic murder as follows: “Murdered the leader, thinker, fighter Juliano Mer-Khamis, Director of The Freedom Theatre, Jenin Refugee Camp, Occupied Terrirtories of the West Bank, Palestine. Today, the 4th of April 2011, at 16:00 o’clock at the entrance of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, a traitor’s hand shot and killed the Palestinian thinker Juliano Mer-Khamis who was stopped in his won car while driving along with his baby son and babysitter. Juliano was shot in his head and died in few instants, the remains of the bullet shot the babysitter in her arm. Juliano Mer-Khamis, actor, director, film-maker and cultural activist, son of Arna Mer and Saliba Khamis, was one of the founders of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp in 2006. All his life Juliano longed to fight against occupation using the arts as a model of social change. The people in the camp refused what happened and called it “a coward’s act”. The Palestinian Authority are doing an investigation and have contacted the Board of Management of The Freedom Theatre”
The Freedom Theatre was set up in Jenin in 2006 as a drama and community centre. Juliano’s mother, Arna Mer, had previously worked there as a peace activist. The theatre has done a considerable amount of work to foster peace, in circumstances that were never easy. One of its recent projects was an initiative to empower young people in Jenin through the use of ICTs, and I was absolutely delighted to be able to include a short case study on this, written by Jonatan Stanczak, Ziad El-Khatib and Mohammad Moawia, in my recent book on ICT4D.
It is hugely sad to hear of the violent death of someone who worked so tirelessly for peace across cultures, ethnicities and religions. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, my thoughts are with his family and friends. Let us hope that his death – amongst so many others in Palestine in recent years – will not be in vain, and that others will relight the candle of peace that burnt so brilliantly in his life.