[Pnews] We talked to the Palestinian clown who was imprisoned by Israel without trial
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 15 15:18:11 EDT 2017
We talked to the Palestinian clown who was imprisoned by Israel
By Rayana Khalaf Contributor - September 15, 2017
He went from brightening up the days of children with special needs to
being held captive in an Israeli prison for almost two years without trial.
But as of this August, 26-year-old Palestinian trainer and circus
performer, Mohammed Abu Sakha, is finally out of prison and back to
We talked to Abu Sakha about his time in Israeli detention, how he
maintained hope whilst being uncertain of his fate, and his role in the
longest Palestinian prisoners hunger strike in history.
Abu Sakha was working as a circus performer and teacher at the
Palestinian Circus School <http://www.palcircus.ps/>in Birzeit, the
occupied West Bank, where he taught kids with learning difficulties,
before being detained in December 2015.
He was arrested while crossing a military checkpoint near Nablus and
placedin administrative detention
<http://www.btselem.org/topic/administrative_detention> - an
administrative order through which Israel imprisons Palestinians without
charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence.
At the time, Israel's Shin Bet security agency accused him of being
affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which
the Jewish state considers a terrorist group. But, Abu Sakha denied all
His arrest triggered widespread outrage and drew regional and
international support, with many activists and human rights groups
demanding his release.
"The arbitrary detention of Mohammad Abu Sakha is yet another shameful
example of the Israeli authorities’ abusive use of administrative
Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at
Amnesty International, after Abu Sakha's detention was extended in June
"He has been denied even the slightest semblance of justice," Luther added.
Abu Sakha told StepFeed that his family and members of the circus school
were his biggest supporters during his arrest, as they spread the news
of his detention and helped shed light on his case.
Thanks to their efforts, a large-scale Facebook campaign
<https://www.facebook.com/freeabusakha/?ref=br_rs> was launched, drawing
supporters from social media, international circuses, and activists.
Describing his time in captivity, Abu Sakha said that he spent his time
talking to other prisoners, reading, and exploring his interests.
"I maintained hope because all the prisoners are in the same
situation and there were even worse cases [than mine], so we were
all in it together," he said.
Abu Sakha explained that all prisoners are united by their common
thoughts when it comes to freedom and liberating Palestine from the
He took part in the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike earlier this year
- the largest
prisoners strike in history - consuming only water and salt for 41 days.
"[We wanted to] achieve a prisoner's simplest goals.
Like [being treated with] humanity, treatment for patients, allowing
parents to hug their kids, and ending the painful way of
transporting prisoners to courts in small iron cages," Abu Sakha said.
Two years into his detention, Abu Sakha was released
August and was met bygroups of friends at a checkpoint in the occupied
West Bank, before going back to his home in Jenin.
Following his release, Abu Sakha told Middle East Eye
he had mixed feelings about being liberated: "I’m happy to be released …
but I know that there are many people in the same position as me still
inside, so I’m sad at the same time."
"I haven’t witnessed any changes in the country since it has not
been a long time, in contrast with some prisoners who have been in
prison for over ten or twenty years.
But still I have seen a change in the Palestinian Circus School
where I work - the management, trainers, and students have made
really obvious developments," Abu Sakha told StepFeed.
Now, Abu Sakha is back at the circus school, where he plans to continue
"It’s a place to spread awareness on what is happening," he said, adding
that he aims to "protect the kids from occupation and not [let] them
drown in this whole [political] game."
He explains that through his work, he attempts to give kids hope for the
future to reduce the possibility of them partaking in violence.
"People are less likely to go and attack soldiers and die if they
have some hope for their life.
We also now have a war of ideas in our society. Extremist ideas are
easily accessed on the internet, [but] if the kid is with us, then
we can work with them, and prevent them from falling for their
ideas," he previously explained to Middle East Eye
When asked about the message he would send to the thousands of
Palestinians still detained without trial:
"Prisoners who are still detained without trial, or even the ones
who have trials, are all in the same [situation].
They are all in prisons as a result of occupation, which pushed them
to defend their rights and their lives."
According to Israeli organization B'Tselem
6,020 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners were held in Israeli
prisons by the end of May 2017.
As of September 2017, Israel holds 449 administrative detainees without
trial, Israeli human rights group Hamoked
"I would love to tell all the Palestinians and prisoners to maintain
hope and to stand up for their rights until the day all of us are
free from occupation," Abu Sakha said.
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