It has been 70 years since Nakbar Day, the annual day of commemoration of the displacement of Palestinians surrounding the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
Since Israel was established, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes. For 70 years, they have suffered brutal oppression and injustice. Everyday, they are fighting to return to their land and their homes. To this day, the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis are ongoing, and there have not been any advancements to a peaceful solution since 2014.
For year 2018's Nakbar Day, thousands of Palestinians protested along the Gaza-Israel border for their right of return, and for the recent move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For them, Jerusalem is their capital, and the move represented a gross ignorance of their rights and national identity. At least 60 Palestinians were killed during the protest - including an 8-month old baby, when the Israeli army opened fire.
In Melbourne, hundreds of Palestinians and supporters protested and marched on May 19 to have their voice heard. Many called out for support for the humane treatment of their people, not just as Palestinians, but as human beings.
I spoke to Mai Saif, a Palestinian girl who is now a member of the Palestinian Community Association for Victoria. With family still struggling in Gaza, she poured her heart out as she tried to tell me about the hardships the Palestinians went through these 70 years. Her dedication and her passion towards seeking justice for her people really touched my heart. She told me that it isn't about Hamas, or religion, but about their human rights - about their right to our homeland, to their national identity without being punished, and to be treated with respect and fairness.
In Israel, it is illegal to wave a Palestinian flag. Here in Melbourne, they waved their flags with pride, heartbreak and resilience. For them, the march and the demonstration is hope that people will hear their cries and stand with them, so that they could go home.