TIME100 Honoree Motaz Azaiza Speaks on Gaza Solidarity Demonstrations Spreading Across US Campuses

Motaz Azaiza spoke to TIME on the red carpet at this year’s in New York City. The Palestinian photojournalist is honored on this year’s list for capturing what is happening in the Gaza Strip during the Israel-Hamas war through his work. He talked about the Gaza solidarity encampments that are popping up at universities in New York and across the country. He recently visited students at Columbia University and New York University and told TIME about the experience.

says that he received an invitation to visit the campuses from the journalism schools at the universities. “It was great. I appreciate this, and I’m happy that students there would like to know more and educate themselves.” He continues, “It was an honor for me to raise awareness about what is going on in my country.”

In regards to using his platform on social media to raise awareness for what is going on in Gaza, he listed a couple things that he’d like people to know. “We are humans, we’re asking for and fighting for our freedom,” he says of the people of Palestine. “We are not animals, my people are getting killed, murdered, and starving. Struggling to find food, shelter, they are in the tents… people are really suffering. It’s now 200+ days of suffering and murdering people—civilians, most of them are women and children.”

He says that he lost over 100 of his colleagues due to the Israel-Hamas war. “Journalists should be protected everywhere in the world,” he tells TIME on the red carpet. “Journalists should not be afraid doing their work or threatened to be killed.” Azaiza ended his interview with TIME saying, “Free Palestine.”