[Pnews] We talked to the Palestinian clown who was imprisoned by Israel without trial

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 15 15:18:11 EDT 2017


  We talked to the Palestinian clown who was imprisoned by Israel
  without trial

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 
circus school.

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 
detention," said 
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 
Israeli occupation.

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 
<http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-frees-palestinian-clown-after-nearly-two-year-detention-without-charge-310587888> that 
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 
educating kids.

"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 
<http://www.hamoked.org/Prisoners.aspx> reports.

    "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.

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