Friday, May 31, 2013

Guantanamo Bay prison guard converts to Islam because of the living faith of Muslim detainees

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Terry Holdbrooks Jr., 29, wears the beard of a bald Amish guy, the tattoos of a punk kid, and the twitchy alertness of a military policeman. Take him to a restaurant, and he’ll choose the chair with its back against the wall. Take his photo, and he'll prefer to look away from the camera.
Part of that wariness Holdbrooks learned while guarding detainees from 2003 to 2004 at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. holding tank for military prisoners on the southeastern point of Cuba.
And part of that wariness he developed after he converted to Islam while stationed at Guantanamo after months of midnight conversations with the Muslim detainees – a conversion that prompted several of his fellow soldiers to try several times to talk some “sense” into him so he wouldn’t “go over to the enemy,” as they put it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Palestinian children – alone and bewildered – in Israel's Al Jalame jail

This comes from a report in the Guardian newspaper of Jan 2012, and I believe nothing has changed.

"The room is barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep. The delivery of food through a low slit in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night.

This is Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in northern Israel. It is one of a handful of cells where Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One 16-year-old claimed that he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days.

The only escape is to the interrogation room where children are shackled, by hands and feet, to a chair while being questioned, sometimes for hours.

Why I have 2 brothers called Omar

When Israel kills a Palestinian, it not only abruptly ends his or her life, it leaves deep wounds with the family that time cannot heal. And it pushes the family to threaten Israel demographically by having one more child — perhaps even more.
The years of the first and second Palestinian intifadas — not to mention the preceding years of Naksa (setback) in 1967 and Nakba (catastrophe) in 1948 — witnessed the birth of thousands of children who were named after Palestinians shot dead by Israel.
Israel’s attempts to reduce Palestinians’ numbers have never proven successful. The possibility that the “demographic time-bomb” will explode only becomes increasingly likely as Israel kills more Palestinians.
Palestinian women, such as my mother who gave birth to 13 children (excluding two who died before birth), have kept on delivering more children and naming them after those who died. My brother Omar is no exception.

Raid on former prisoner Hashem Abu Zayyad's house

As part of the continuous arrest campaign by the Israeli occupation forces , they besieged the house of former political prisoner Hashem AbuZayyad in Bethany (Eizareya) east Jerusalem, yesterday after midnight, with the intention of arresting his sons Jameel, 25, and Hamzah 19. 
IDF soldiers violently raided the AbuZayyad house, shouting and horrifying the rest of the family members. They also performed a brutal inspection of the house and destroyed the family's personal belongings. 
As both Jameel and Hamzah were not at home, the Israeli occupation savagely arrested the father Hashem AbuZayyad, 55, barely allowing him to collect his medicine before leaving, where he was taken to Ma'ale Adumim police center at 2 am this morning. The Israeli occupation authorities questioned him all night, and eventually released him this morning at 8 am after forcing him to sign a commitment to make his sons Jameel and Hamzah surrender to the occupation authorities. Accordingly, both did so at 9 am, although no charges were filed against them.
The mother of Jameel and Hamza had an operation and is still recovering. In view of what happened to her family, she got a nervous breakdown and was sent to hospital in an ambulance. Despite her broken heart, she is so proud of her young men who are sacrificing their lives for their beloved homeland, noting this has been happening in every Palestinian family's house for 65 years.
Israeli occupation's Humiliation, racism, and oppression persist against the Palestinian people, while the whole world is just watching.

From the facebook page of the Free Samer Issawi campaign

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Middle East Monitor's review of The Prisoners' Diaries - Palestinian voices from the Israeli Gulag

reviewed by Ramona Wadi -

Edited and published during the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike, The Prisoners' Diaries is a distressing fragment of testimonies from Palestinians whose deterioration in Israeli jails has become a fact of life, rather than a blatant violation of human rights. The resilience against the occupation and a lack of global outrage against torture and apartheid practices resonated with irregular frequencies within the international community, as leaders relegate human rights to the vestiges of redundant diplomacy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Prisoner's mother passes away not having seen her son for 21 years

The death of Mahmoud Da'ajna's mother who had not seen him for 21 years reflects  the inhumanity of the Israeli prison system. Next week, another Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Sa'adat , aged 60 and sentenced to 30 years in Jail, will go to court to demand that his granddaughter be allowed to visit him.

In The Prisoners' Dairies, both Alaa Albazyan and Nael Albarghouti speak about the pain of learning their mothers had passed away when they were incarcerated.

A Palestinian Political Prisoner's mother dies - Jerusalem .
19 \ 5 \ 2013

Sarah Nofal Da'ajna, the mother of the prisoner Mahmoud Da'ajna dies at the age of 85 years. Prisoners' club confirmed in a statement issued earlier that Daajna, who was detained 21 years ago, didn't see his mother since 21 years as the occupation authorities had not allowed his mother to visit him, noting that she had very critical health conditions which lasted during her son's arrest.

It is noteworthy that Daajna, who is 63 years old, is one of the oldest prisoners in Israeli jails, and is now detained in Gilboa Prison.

Prisoners club, human rights activists and all the Palestinian people extend to Daajna family deepest and most sincere condolences on their loss

(This article comes from the posting on the Free Samer Issawi campaign Facebook page which is run by Malaka Mohamed in Gaza.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Detained: testimonies from palestinian Children Imprisoned by Israel

This is a very disturbing report by photojournalist Samar Hazboun which appeared in 972mag. Its difficult to imagine how human rights violations like these can continue for years without protest from the rest of the world. It is up to us who know, who have to do something about this.

Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian Children Imprisoned by Israel’ uncovers one of the most painful experiences that Palestinian children endure in the ongoing Israeli occupation. Through interviews with ex-detainees and mothers of minors presently in detention, the project documents their stories and aims to lend a voice to those who are silenced from fear of negative repercussions.

Text and photos by: Samar Hazboun

Hope ends here: The children’s court at Ofer Military Prison

This report is from January 2011. Until today, nothing has changed.

“Courtroom number 2. The military court for Palestinian children. Every Monday. On the podium, Judge Sharon Rivlin Ahai. From 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Boy follows boy. One child and then another child. Wearing brown prison garb. Chained feet. Shackled hands, one hand shackled to that of another boy. Some of them are so small that their feet wave in the air when they are seated on the bench.”

Hope ends here: The children’s court at Ofer Military Prison | +972 Magazine

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Palestinians Mark 65th Nakba Anniversary, Old, Young Cling to Return | Palestine Chronicle

This article from The Palestine Chronicle was written by Yousef Aljamal from CPDS, who , together with Raed Qaddura, had translated the interviews featured in The Prisoners"Diaries.

"Palestinians in Palestine and in the Diaspora mark the annual anniversary of the Catastrophe, also known as the Nakba, on May 15th every year as a result of the massive ethnic cleansing carried out by Zionists gangs in 1947-1948 which resulted in the displacement of almost 750,000 Palestinians from their villages and cities."

Palestinians Mark 65th Nakba Anniversary, Old, Young Cling to Return | Palestine Chronicle

Monday, May 6, 2013

Israel finally allows children of prisoners from gaza to visit their jailed fathers

How sad that children in Gaza who had fathers in Israeli prisons had not been able to see them since 2006.

GAZA, May 6 — Israel allowed Gaza children under eight-year-old to visit their jailed fathers for the first time in over six years, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Monday.

Seven children traveled Monday to Israel with their mothers or grandparents to see their fathers in prison, according to Nasser Al-Najjar, spokesperson for the ICRC.

The ICRC welcomed the Israeli decision, Al-Najjar said, hoping Israel would remove other restrictions to the prisoners’ family members.

Israel suspended all visits to Gaza prisoners when Islamic Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid in 2006, who was then swapped for more than 1,000 prisoners in 2010.

Last year, Israel resumed family visits to Gaza after a hunger strike of the detainees, but the visits were restricted only to the wives and parents of the inmates.

Israel now holds about 400 prisoners from the Gaza Strip.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Israel holds teenagers in solitary confinement

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't tell my mother I am blind

A letter from Muhammad Brash

"Don’t tell my mother that I can no longer see. She can see me, but I can’t see. I fake my smiles when she shows me the photographs of my siblings, friends, and neighbors, as she doesn’t know that I have become blind after illness spread in my eyes until the darkness filled me.

Don’t tell her that I waited several years to have a cornea transplant surgery. But the Israeli Prison Service kept procrastinating and procrastinating, giving my eyes every reason to leave me.

Don’t tell her that the last thing I remember from the sweet days when I could see was a small child, running toward me, waving the Palestinian flag, and yelling, ‘A martyr, a martyr.’

Justice for the Guantanamo prisoners

A call from Code Pink to join a global hunger strike for justice for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

-The situation at the prison in Guantanamo is at a crisis point, with desperate prisoners refusing to eat. Over 100 of the 166 prisoners left in Guantanamo are on a hunger strike. Many are being brutally force-fed. The United Nations Human Rights Commission considers the practice of force-feeding—in which detainees are strapped to a restraining chair, have tubes pushed up their nostrils and liquids pumped down their throats—a clear form of torture. One detainee said the process felt like a "razor blade [going] down through your nose and into your throat." Prisoner Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel said, “I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.”