Sunday, 6 May 2012

PalFest 2012 arrives in Gaza

(interview with PalFest’s founding chair, Ahdaf Soueif, conducted by writer - and ArabLit contributor - Nora Lester Mourad)

As guests of the 2012 Palestine Festival for Literature (PalFest) waited — and waited — at the Rafah-Gaza crossing last night, the affiliated fest in Ramallah kicked off with “Representing Lives Through Literature” at the Sakakini Cultural Center.

It “took ages to get through the border” yesterday, according to @PalFest. Judging by Twitter updates, it was more than eight hours before most of PalFest attendees got through to Gaza.

From @PalFest at around midnight:
@RanaGaza Hey – took ages to get through the border. Most of us are here, exhausted. @Alaa and @Manal will get through tomorrow we hope…

Today’s events begin early:

10am: Workshops
All Universities (check with your Arabic and English departments)

4pm: Speeches, presentations and readings by PalFest authors
Golden Media Centre (opposite al Azhar University)

Ex hunger striker Khader Adnan makes appeal on behalf of Palestinian political prisoners

Khader Adnan, a Palestinian political prisoner who was forced to undergo a 66 day hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention by Israel, thanks people around the world for their support – and calls on all of us to take immediate action on behalf of the Palestinian political prisoners currently on strike.
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah.

Dear free people of the world. Dear oppressed and disenfranchised around the globe. Dear friends of our people, who stood with me with a stern belief in freedom and dignity for my people and our prisoners languishing in the Occupation's prisons.

Dear free women and men, young and elderly, ordinary people as well as intellectual elites everywhere - I address you today with an outpouring of hope and pain for every Palestinian that suffers from the occupation of his land, for each of us that has been killed, wounded or imprisoned by the state of terror, that denies anything beautiful in our lives, even the smile of our children and families. I am addressing you in my first letter following my release - praying it will not be the last - after Allah granted me freedom, pride and dignity. I was an "administrative detainee" in the jail of occupation for four months, out of which I have spent 66 days on hunger strike.

I was driven to declare an open-ended hunger strike by the daily harassment and violation of my people's rights by the Israeli Zionist occupation. The last straw for me was the ongoing arrests, the brutal nighttime raid on my house, my violent detention, during which I was taken to the "Mavo Dotan" settlement on our land occupied 1967, and the beatings and humiliation I was treated to during arrest interrogation. The way I was treated during the interrogation at the Jalameh detention center, using the worse and lowest verbal insults in the dictionary. After questioning, I was sentenced to imprisonment under administrative detention with no charges, which proves mine and others' arrests serve only to maintain a quota of prisoners, to harass us, to restrict our freedom and to undermine our determination, pride and dignity.

I write today to thank all those who stood tall in support of my people, with our prisoners, with Hana al-Shalabi and with myself. I call on you to stand for justice pride and dignity in the face of occupation. The assault on the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people is an assault on free people of the world by a criminal occupation that threatens the security, freedom and dignity of all, no matter where.

Please, continue in exposing this occupation, boycotting and isolating it internationally. Expose its true face, the one that was clearly exposed in the attack of an Israeli officer on our Danish cohort. Unlike that attack, the murder of our people is a crime that goes by unspoken and slips away from the lens of the camera. Our prisoners are dying in silence. Hundreds of defenders of freedom are on hunger strike inside the prisons, including the eight knights, Bilal Diab and Thaer Hlahalh, who are now on their 61st day of hunger strike, Hassan Safadi, Omar Abu Shalal, Mahmoud Sarsak, Mahmoud Sarsal, Mohammad Taj, Jaafar Azzedine (who was arrested solely for standing in solidarity with myself) and Ahmad haj Ali. Their lives now are in great danger.

We are all responsible and we will all lose if we anything happen to them. Let us take immediate action to pressure the Occupation into releasing them immediately, or their children could never forgive us.

Let all those free and revolutionary join hands against the Occupation's oppression, and take to the streets – in front of the Occupation's prisons, in front of its embassies and all other institutions backing it around the world.

With deep appreciation,
Khader Adnan

From AIC

Israeli police giving electric shocks to Palestinian protesters taken into custody

Today, Israeli police confronted protestors outside of prisons in both the West Bank and Israel with rubber bullets, tear gas and electric shock, arresting 15. Protesters gathered in support of approximately 2,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike since April 17, 2012.

In Ramle, demonstrators amassed outside the prison medical clinic where police shot electrical currents from a Taser gun and arrested eight demonstrators chanting for prisoner rights. Later, protestors moved to the Ramle police station where those arrested where held, and seven more were taken into Israeli custody.

"They beaten us and arrested some because we refuse to leave our comrades who were arrested alone," tweeted journalist Abir Kopty, whose hand was injured by police. According to Kopty's updates, Israeli authorities also shouted expletives while arresting protestors.

Within hours, several of the detained, including a bus driver who transported the activists, were released. Although, remaining in custody is 15 year-old Ward Kayyal, who was transferred to a nearby hospital. A regular contributor to this site, Leehee Rothschild was also arrested.

UPDATE: One of those arrested says that 17 in all were arrested and were not released for a full day. No one was tasered outside the Ramle prison, but protesters were during a subsequent gathering outside the police station. All 17 were later attacked, beaten and tasered while in custody in the police station.

Meanwhile in front of the West Bank's Ofer prison, for the third consecutive day protesters were met with rubber coated steel bullets and tear gas. Five are reported injured, including one man who was struck in the leg by a tear gas canister. more