Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

57. “I write from cell 9, block 59, Givon Prison”

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November 5, 2011.  Six of those arrested from the Freedom Waves boats Tahrir and Saoirse have so far been released, including two journalists and both boat captains.  David Heap, Ehab Lotayef and 19 other activists remain in Israeli prison.

From David Heap:

Dear sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones,

I write to you from cell 9, block 59, Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine.  Although I was tasered during the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly as a result), I am basically ok.

We – Ehab, Michael, Karen from Tahrir, as well as Karen, Kit (U.S.) and Jihan, who we saw briefly this morning – are most concerned about our Tahrir shipmate, Palestinian Majd Kayyal from Haifa, last seen by us at Ashdod being photographed and put in a police car.**

[MR:  Democracy Now broadcast a short interview with Majd Kayyal from aboard the Tahrir just before the Israeli military surrounded the ship.  It starts at 17:07 in this report, which is worth watching in its entirety.]

David Heap continues:  Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel.

Four people from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues.  The four of us, Ehab and I (Canada), Michael (Australia) and Hassan (U.K.) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners’ committee in order to press our collective demands:

– Association in the block – i.e. open cells;

– Adequate writing and reading material;

– Free communication with outside world — i.e. regular phone calls;

– Information about shipmate women held at same prison.

We add one Tahrir-specific demand:  that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz (who reported from aboard the Tahrir) in accordance with her credentials from the U.S. government.

All political incarceration is unjust, but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.

If you have energy to devote to solidarity actions in the coming days, please concentrate on them.  We must get the Tahrir back and continue the Freedom Waves initiative.

Free Majd Kayyal!  Free all political prisoners!  Free Gaza!  Free Palestine!

Anishnabe-debuewin, restons humaine, stay human, in love and struggle,


** Majd Kayyal has been released, but it appears David Heap and the other political prisoners have not been told where he was taken.

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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