[Pnews] Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons: current reality and national tasks

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 14 10:08:49 EDT 2013

  Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons: current reality and
  national tasks by Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh


/Samidoun is publishing the following article, received from inside the 
occupation prisons. This article, addressing the current situation and 
national tasks regarding Palestinian prisoners and their struggle for 
freedom, was written by *Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh*, a prominent Palestinian 
leader who has been held in occupation prisons since 2006. He was 
kidnapped from the Palestinian Authority's Jericho Prison in 2006 along 
with Ahmed Sa'adat and several other imprisoned Palestinians. There will 
be a Week of Action on October 17-24, 
demanding freedom for Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners. (Click here 
to download Arabic PDF 

      *Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons: current reality and
      national tasks*

        *By Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, imprisoned Palestinian leader (Download
        Arabic PDF

Let us begin with the words of the great poet, Mahmoud Darwish: 
"Imprisonment is intensity. No one has spent a night in it, who did not 
train their throat in what may sound like songs. This is the method 
available to tame the isolation and maintain the dignity of pain."

Thus, it is now and it will always be that Palestinian prisoners seek 
freedom and will sing for freedom, and work by all means to attain it. 
In order to achieve this goal, they work to preserve their dignity and 
their natural rights, despite the brutal organized Zionist campaign 
carried out constantly against the prisoners.  There is no road but the 
road of freedom.

There is no greater pain than living as a human under oppression and 
torture, denied the right to determine one's own destiny.  This causes a 
feeling of helplessness and loss of human dignity. And when this 
oppression overwhelms your certainties, it seems that the world has 
abandoned you, even your language has abandoned you, and you are 
helpless and alone, facing the constant feeling of being unable to break 
through the thick, dense media and political fog and raise one's voice 
into the world. Yet, the hope remains that the cause of the prisoner 
maintains its place on the Palestinian national agenda.

At times we resort to simplifying the complexities of our pain for media 
necessity. It may seem then that the torture is manageable, a small 
matter, and does not deserve attention; or you exaggerate, making it 
  easier for the enemy to attack your claims and prove you wrong, 
maintaining your isolation from the world and intensifying the siege 
upon you.

We are left with two options to choose between: Either you abandon being 
yourself and transform completely into the object of your imprisonment; 
or you become the subject and seek to re-define torture, its reasons and 
its objectives. It is not easy to be a researcher and the research 
subject at the same time, to be tortured and study torture, to be the 
witness at the scene and the analyst of abstract details simultaneously.

Repression and torture have become a complex catastrophe in order to 
meet the current discourse of human rights. It is the masked, 
modernized, hidden oppression. It does not have a clear visual 
representation. It is very hard to identify through one element or one 
measure. There are hundreds of small measures and thousands of details 
that are used as tools of daily oppression against prisoners. They are 
not visible except through examination of the comprehensive logics that 
stand behind this integrated system of oppression.

Torture and repression is different today from what we read about in the 
classic prisoner narratives like Julius Fukic's /Notes from the Gallows/ 
and novels of prison life like Tahar Ben Jalloun's /This Blinding 
Absence of Light/, and what has been written historically in the 
literature of Palestinian prisoners.  Now, we face the torture of a 
different kind, much more severe than the previous in some ways. The 
enemy, with its  "civilization," uses your  senses and your mind as 
tools of torture against you. It comes quietly and smoothly, it does not 
use a baton, scream, nor provoke an uproar, but all that is needed is to 
isolate you -- and the torture lives with you inside the cell, inside 
your siege. Whatever you may have in terms of material things, whatever 
money you may have in the canteen, or material possessions theoretically 
available to you, can be removed from you in a moment's time in 
isolation and raids.

What the enemy seeks to achieve by using this form of torture and 
arbitrary repression against prisoners is to reshape us again as human 
beings according to an "Israeli" vision, seeking to destroy our national 
awareness and consciousness, and in particular, the awareness of the 
vanguard of the resistance inside the prisons. This is done through the 
maintenance of control over the movement of prisoners as part of a whole 
package of repressive actions, including:

    * Separating or deepening the separation between prisoners inside a
      prison, isolating prisoners from one another, and maintaining a
      separation between imprisoned leaders and young activists;
    * Undermining the higher committee for prisoners and the committees
      of prisoners composed of representatives of the factions, and
      insisting on dealing only with individual prisoners as a tactic to
      demobilize prisoners;
    * Collective punishment against the prisoners when they take any
      step of struggle, even if it is symbolic. This includes preventing
      any collective action, such as the mourning of a death, a farewell
      to a prisoner, or a ceremony commemorating the anniversaries of
      the Palestinian factions or national days;
    * Transfer policies and frequent movements of prisoners have a
      serious impact on national organizing within the prisons. These
      movements aim to confuse the prisoners, undermine their stability
      and that of the organizational work inside prisons. The torment of
      trips called "Bosta", which transfer prisoners between prisons and
      courts, is a severe form of torture;
    * Strengthening the relationship of the prison authority with the
      individual prisoner rather than the body of the prisoners'
      movement, turning each prisoner into an individual case and
      refusing to address collective concerns of the prisoners'
      movement.   Thus, for example, we see the results today in the
      individual focus of struggles, reflecting personal or individual
      demands and concerns and not the rights and status of prisoners as
      a collective;
    * Installation of glass barriers in the visiting rooms in order to
      separate prisoners and their families, even preventing them from
      touching and embracing;
    * The policy of strip searches and nighttime raids and inspections;
    * Isolating a number of prisoners in solitary confinement or
      collective isolation cells for many years; and
    * Controlling the quality of books, magazines and newspapers that
      enter the prisons, as well as restricting television stations;
      preventing secondary and post-secondary education, prohibiting
      therapies and other procedures that are too numerous to mention here.

As we can see, the body is no longer the target. The captive is not 
primarily physically punished, deprived or starved, but the soul, mind 
and consciousness are systematically targeted. This is the other means 
of torture that is difficult to explain in words. Associated with it are 
changes that have occurred in the reality and the role of the prisoners' 
movement, from past to present, and the nature of the new challenges we 

There are different tools, ideas and thoughts on how to confront this 
within the prisons. The unity of our vision as a prisoners' movement is 
vital but, also, prisoners need to obtain the tools of knowledge and 
access the history of their movement and its sacrifices in order to 
elevate their steadfastness in confronting all of these measures.

In many cases, prisoners today do not know the substantial history of 
the prisoners' movement in the Palestinian national struggle, the 
central role it has played and how it has been looked to by liberation 
movements around the world. The prisoners today need access to and 
knowledge of their history, of which the repressive measures of the 
occupation are intended to deprive them.

What we see today is the inability of the Palestinian leadership to take 
a position at the right time. This is not meant as defamation or 
admonishment, but rather to affirm the weakness of our tools in 
confronting the process of the liquidation of national knowledge. We 
must examine our tools to modernize, revive and make our national 
knowledge and history accessible in order to confront the policy of 
repression. We must fight to maintain our movement's organizational 
stability and not be subject to the whims of the occupier.

The reality of the prisoners' movement, in all of its complexity, cannot 
be confronted only by prisoners alone. The task of exiting from this 
reality will also need, in addition to the steadfastness of the 
prisoners, a political role by all Palestinian forces , committees , 
bodies and organizations defending human rights, civil society, and 
unions, as well as the solidarity movement, on Arab and international, 
official and popular levels, and most importantly, an influential, 
active and strong mass movement in the streets, in the homeland of the 
Palestinian people and in the Diaspora.

We follow with great interest the political, media, popular, and 
official activities which have emerged in recent years around the issue 
of "the prisoners' cause and their situation" and attempts to 
"internationalize their cause." Therefore, it is important to 
distinguish between, on the one hand, the philosophy of ending "the file 
of the prisoners" as part of a process of political settlement and 
negotiations at the expense of our people, and, on the other, efforts to 
internationalize the prisoners' struggle as a beacon of the Palestinian 
national liberation movement -- and the road for the latter is through 
uprisings, demonstrations and popular revolution that will not end until 
all of our Palestinian rights are attained.

The continuation of the conflict and the struggle to regain our rights 
means that there will necessarily be prisons that will imprison 
activists and fighters. The most important reason for our existence 
within these prisons is the existence of our national cause, and that 
our liberation movement is still alive.

The struggle of the prisoners, and the struggle of the refugees of our 
people to achieve their rights must be in the forefront of the cause and 
the entire national liberation movement.

As we salute the diversity of the Palestinian, Arab, international and 
humanitarian efforts to highlight our suffering, we affirm the important 
historical fact that the Palestinian national struggle has always been 
an example and an inspiration for people and movements all over the 
world who seek freedom, and a source of impact for their struggles, 
which have assured the continued existence of the solidarity movement 
with our people.

Accordingly, it is critical that the prisoners' movement must be at the 
centre of attention of political movements and international human 
rights bodies. It must be on the agenda of the solidarity movement as a 
whole, with events and actions furthering a clear vision.

The media must address the struggle of prisoners from multiple angles. 
The tremendous role of the media in this regard is known to all, and 
goes without saying. We recommend working on the production of 
presentations and programs on the lives of prisoners. There are hundreds 
of issues, stories and rich themes that define the experience of 
struggle of Palestinian prisoners and their families. It is also 
important to connect with Palestinian, Arab and international 
universities which study the Palestinian history, cause and national 
movement on an academic level, and ensure that the history and struggles 
of the prisoners are reflected within these courses and programs as a 
crucial element of the Palestinian liberation movement.

This work, in order to be comprehensive, must also include addressing 
prisoners of the Palestinian cause held in prisons outside occupied 
Palestine, in Arab and foreign prisons. These prisoners include Carlos 
and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah in France, and many other activists and 
strugglers in prisons around the world. We also salute the Cuban 
prisoners held in US jails for seeking to defend their revolution, and 
have common cause with the prisoners of liberation movements around the 

The issue of Palestinian prisoners must be visible on the international 
stage, and it should be a goal of struggle by Arab and international 
solidarity forces to put pressure on their countries' governments, 
official institutions and popular organizations to take a stand in 
support of Palestinian prisoners, as prisoners of war, prisoners of 
conscience and prisoners of freedom.

Finally, we call for the continuation and expansion of popular 
participation in the Diaspora, organizing mass rallies in front of 
"Israeli" embassies around the world, with the participation of human 
rights organizations and concerned international organizations, 
demanding that the occupation authorities to free Palestinian prisoners. 
This is based on the recognition of Palestinian prisoners as prisoners 
of war, prisoners of conscience, and prisoners of freedom, which is 
critically important due to its political importance for our struggle, 
to regain the path of our struggle as a national liberation movement, 
and to reassert the true nature and image of the Palestinian people's 
struggle, sacrifices and national goals.

/*Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh* is a member of the Central Committee of the Popular 
Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the PFLP's representative on 
the higher coordinating committee of the prisoners' movement. He was 
kidnapped from Jericho prison in 2006 along with Ahmed Sa'adat and his 
comrades in an Israeli invasion after four years of imprisonment in 
Palestinian Authority prisons, and is serving a life sentence plus five 
years in occupation prisons. /There will be a Week of Action on October 
<http://samidoun.ca/2013/09/october-17-24-global-week-of-action-to-free-ahmad-saadat-and-all-palestinian-prisoners/> demanding 
freedom for Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners.//

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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