Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Friend Natalie Writes about Prisoners

In solidarity and with permission, I must post this article posted by Natalie Abou Shakra of International Solidarity Movement regarding Palestinian prisoners. Please read...

Palestinian, you are on your own!
Posted on: March 26, 2009
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Natalie Abou Shakra Gaza 08
He said, “Your wife is beautiful, I want to sleep with her.” During the interrogation, they would hit us extensively. They prevent us from sleeping, urinating, drinking and eating. During my friend’s interrogation, they brought in his wife. They touched her breasts, her sensitive areas in front of him. They wanted him to admit to their accusations. Imprisonment by the occupation forces is the attempting to murder a resistant spirit… all that we have against their state-of-the-art weaponry .Gilad Shalit “who turned 22 in captivity, will have been a hostage of Hamas for about 1,000 days,” writes Isabel Kershner on March 8th 2009, in the New York Times . ِAround 11,700 Palestinians resisting illegal occupation, including children under the age of 18 and elderly, are held hostage by Apartheid Israel, writes the history of the oppressed. Most of those detained, according to Ali ‘Olwan a lawyer at the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs in Gaza, have spent more than twenty years in captivity. These prisoners are held under inhumane conditions, says ‘Olwan, in denial of medical examination, no visits by their families and children are allowed, in addition to being subject to various torture techniques. Majdi, who is now 43, hasn’t seen his brother, Bashir, who has been in captivity since 1986, 23 years of age then. “My mother’s wish is to see her son before she dies. It has been 15 years that she last saw his face.”
After collecting information about you, they would break into your house one night. The Shin Bet would arrest you, take you into prison, remove all your clothes off. Sometimes with underwear, sometimes without. Undressing you is a must. Then, they begin the hakirah , which includes extensive interrogation… and hitting. They would then bring you clothes with an acrid smell, and begin to use their torture techniques. Have you heard of the shabeh ?
Ihab Bidir, 30, arrested by the IOF on the Mata’hin checkpoint in Gaza six years ago after being accused of affiliation with Hamas, was released on the 27th of January, 2009. Before his release by four days, Bidir, in his testimony, admitted that he was taken into a special division of the Naqab prison, called division 1, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Prisons Authority, but under the military’s control. He specified being accused as an “enemy combatant” and that the officer investigating his case denied him access to legal representation and an independent and impartial court claiming his file as “top secret” and that this was “not a legal matter, but entirely political.” He was released after spending four nights in division 1, in solitude. Bidir was clueless as to why he got to be placed in, and why he was later released.
The chair would be made of metal. A low seated chair, with a low back support. They’d tie your hands to the back, so that your spine would be inclined against the metal low back support. Being seated as such for hours, the pain resulting from the back, and the spine, would be intolerable. And, then, they would ask you to spread your legs wide open, and begin to whack your member- you would go insane!
After the Israeli Occupation Forces claimed withdrawing its troops from Gaza in 2005, while redeploying them, it stopped implementing administrative arrest codes, but begun placing the detained under the category of “enemy combatant.” This category was used by Israel in dealing with Hezbollah detainees. Prof. Peter Jan Honigsberg of the University of San Francisco School of Law writes that “enemy combatant did not and does not exist under international law,” that it was a “generic term until February 2002,” and that the US administration created it for the case of its detainees (Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghreib) since it “circumvent[ed] the Geneva Conventions and the international human rights laws,” in addition, he continues, to “shelter individual members of the administration from being charged with war crimes.” Since January 18, 2009, after the 22 day genocidal attacks on Gaza, Israel has placed more than 20 Palestinian detainees under the category of “enemy combatant”, says Ali ‘Olwan, and the number is increasing, making each individual placed under this category unprotected by international law.
They would ask if you smoked, and then try to lure you into admitting into their accusations by allowing you a cigarette, or with food, water, or by admitting you to go to the bathroom. If you wet yourself, they would rub your body against the liquid on the floor and strike you. Did I tell you about placing detainees in refrigerators?
The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War in its 13th, 14th, and 15th articles states that the detainees must be treated humanely, with no violence and “physical mutilation” in cruel treatment and torture, in addition to no offenses upon “personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”, along with “free of charge medical attention.” In placing prisoners under an internationally unrecognized category such as “enemy combatant,” the state of Israel adds on to the growing list of crimes against humanity yet another heinous violation. Kershner in her article published in the New York Times, states that “in a small country where 18-year-olds are conscripted into the army complete strangers feel intimately connected to the Shalits.” On a land whose non-Jewish natives underwent ethnic cleansing genocidal wars since 1948, it is time for the world to stand in solidarity with and be “intimately connected” to the six million refugees worldwide, the remaining families of martyrs, those men, women and children burnt alive, those who became physically challenged, those who live below the poverty line, those who cannot have an education, those who are racially discriminated against, those who want no help in fighting for their right to live with dignity on their land, those who choose to resist, limited resistance against the largest nuclear power in the region. What Kershner also needs to realize is that Shalit is an illegal occupier, and that the 11,700 detained Palestinians have the legal right to defend themselves, their land against any occupier, or modern-day colonizer.
More than 11,000 of us are in there. Is Shalit-the-occupier more human than us?

-Natalie Abou Shakra, International Solidarity Movement

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