Gaza’s Ark joins Palestinians in mourning Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj
[Video interview with Dr. El-Sarraj below]
Gaza's Ark's Steering Committee mourns the death of Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, psychiatrist and staunch advocate for Palestinian human rights and self-determination. Dr. El-Sarraj, who passed away on December 17, 2013, after a long struggle with cancer, was a valued member of our Advisory Committee.
Dr. El-Sarraj was the president of the Gaza Community Mental Health Progamme (GCMHP), which he founded in 1977, concentrating on the mental impact of violence on women and children in Gaza. Israel's Occupation damages every aspect of Palestinians’ lives. The mental health damage was what Dr. El-Sarraj dedicated his life to treating. His extensive articles on PTSD have been published worldwide.
Born in Bir al-Saba, Palestine on April 7, 1944, Dr. El-Sarraj was forced to flee with his family to Gaza in 1948, refugees from the creation of Israel, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe. He grew up to become the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza.
Dr. El-Sarraj was honored for his work with the Physicians for Human Rights Award, the Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders and the Olof Palme Prize, the Swedish labor movement’s largest and most prestigious award, for his self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for the Palestinian people.
When interviewed about his work, he said, “I look at this conflict as a product of the environment. People are not born to become martyrs. People are not born to become heroes. You bring an environment of hopelessness and despair, you have somebody who thinks death is the beginning of life. You bring an environment of hope and joy, and people will then do everything to stop the killing and try to live in a happy environment.” He spent his life trying to bring hope to his patients and to the people of Gaza.
Gaza's Ark hopes to continue Dr. El-Sarraj's struggle to bring hope to the people of Gaza and to end the illegal and inhumane siege of Gaza. We along with countless others in Palestine and around the world mourn his loss. May he find peace in death, a peace that he was so hopeful would happen during his life and that he tried so hard to bring to the victims of violence and human rights abuse in Gaza.
Rest in Peace, Eyad.
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