Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

44. Waiting for Rami

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From the Freedom Theatre, Jenin refugee camp:

On Saturday afternoon August 6, Rami Awni Hwayel, aged 20, a third-year graduating student at the Freedom Theatre acting school was detained by the Israeli army at Shave Shomeron checkpoint between Nablus and Jenin.  He was travelling with fellow students from Ramallah to Jenin.

[MR: The Shave Shomeron checkpoint is one of many dozens by which the Israeli military controls the movement of Palestinians within Palestinian territory.  The location of these checkpoints makes it abundantly clear that they are not at all about Israeli security, but entirely about the enforcement of military occupation within Palestine.]

Batool Taleb was one of the acting students in the car with Rami.  She describes what happened: “When the soldiers got to our car, they took all our IDs and then they told Rami to get out of the car.  They immediately handcuffed and blindfolded him and put him in the army jeep.”

The students had been rehearsing in Ramallah for their final graduation project, the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot, directed by the Israeli-American film-maker Udi Aloni.

“This is devastating,” says Aloni. “Rami is playing Pozzo, the main role in the play, and he’s doing an amazing job.  He is so dedicated to the work.  He just left rehearsals today for the weekend to see his family for Ramadan.  This is terrible, we want our Pozzo back!”

Rami is the third member of the Freedom Theatre to be detained by the Israeli army since their 27 July assault on the theatre.  Head technician Adnan Naghnaghiye and chairperson of the board Bilal Saadi are still being held in “administrative detention,” without charge, trial or access to lawyers.

[MR: For more detail on the attack, see previous posts 41 & 42.  For a visit to the Freedom Theatre acting school, see chapter 2, Our Way to Fight.]

[According to Addameer, the Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967, approximately 700,000 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli military.  This amounts to approximately 20 percent of the total Palestinian population, and 40 percent of the male Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories.]

The military has initiated a gag order to forbid any reporting in Israel about Rami Awni Hwayel’s arrest.

Once again the Freedom Theatre calls on friends and supporters around the world to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to stop this outrageous harassment of a unique cultural resource.

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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