Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

42. Freedom occupied

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Following my previous post, this August 1 update comes from the Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp, Occupied Palestinian Territory:

After the Israeli army attack on the Freedom Theatre, Wednesday July 27, the two detained persons, Adnan Naghnaghiye (head technician at the theatre), and Bilal Saadi (chairperson of the theatre board), were taken to the Jalame and Meggiddo high security prisons inside Israel.

The Israeli army claims that the detained persons have “acted against the security of the region.”  [MR: this stock phrase is often used to justify the unjustifiable imprisonment of Palestinians.]

Jonatan Stanczak, co-founder of the Freedom Theatre, comments: “The reason behind the arrest is absurd and Kafka-like.  Although theatre and culture by their nature can be perceived by some as subversive, this kind of general accusation is nonsense.”

The authorities have refused to allow Israeli lawyer Smadar Ben-Natah to talk to or visit either of his clients, who are being held in “administrative detention.”  [MR: A leftover from the British occupation of Palestine, “administrative detention” means arrest and detention without charge, trial or access to a lawyer, all of which measures are illegal by international law.]

The authorities have arbitrarily extended administrative detention of the two men to August 4th.  Their lawyer will petition the Supreme Court for access to the prisoners, and for their release.

Not surprisingly, the Israeli army denies that it raided the theatre.  However, photo and video documentation confirms that the army not only raided the theatre, they also shattered windows in the multimedia centre and office building.  Eye-witnesses also report harassment and threats to several theatre employees.

“Raiding densely populated Palestinian civilian areas in the middle of the night to carry out wanton arrests is common practice for the Israeli army,” says Jacob Gough, acting general manager of the theatre. “The only difference this time is that it befell people related to the Freedom Theatre.”

[MR:  Though Jenin is in the so-called Area A, nominally under Palestinian jurisdiction, residents of the city are accustomed to regular Israeli army incursions.  This is the harsh reality of military occupation.]

The Freedom Theatre demands that the Israeli authority immediately provide access to lawyers for our kidnapped friends and colleagues, and that they be released immediately and given due compensation.

Until this happens, we urge all the friends and supporters of the theatre to contact their local Israeli representative office and their own government’s foreign office to convey these demands.

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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