An image of a shirtless young protester in Gaza gripping a Palestinian flag with one hand and swinging a slingshot over his head with the other has drawn comparisons with the iconic French Revolution painting, Liberty Leading the People.

Captured on October 22 by Mustafa Hassouna of Turkey's Anadolu Agency, the photo shows 20-year-old Palestinian A'ed Abu Amro seeming to rise out of the thick of a protest against the Israeli blockade.

He appears in sharp contrast to fellow demonstrators and reporters in protective jackets behind him, all set against a background of black smoke from burning tyres. The image has been tweeted over 5,000 times.

Abu Amro lives in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in Gaza City. He protests every Friday and Monday with friends.

"I was surprised this picture of me went viral," he told Al Jazeera. "I participate in protests on a weekly basis, sometimes more. I didn't even know there was a photographer near me."

Amro said that his friends sent him the image - taken in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza - the next day, having spotted it being shared on social media.

"I don't go to protests to get pictures of me taken, but this has encouraged me to continue demonstrating," he said.

"The flag I was carrying is the same one I always hold in all the other protests I've attended. My friends make fun of me, saying it is easier to throw rocks without holding a flag in the other hand, but I got used to it.

"If I get killed, I want to be wrapped in the same flag. We are demanding our right of return, and protesting for our dignity and the dignity of our future generation."

For nearly seven months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have protested along the fence with Israel demanding their right to return to the homes and land their families were expelled from 70 years ago.

The protesters are also demanding an end to the crippling 11-year Israeli blockade of the enclave.

courtesy : aljazeera.com

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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.