Gaza activist talks to Al Jazeera from Israeli jail – 4 Jul 09
July 04, 2009
Fourteen people remain in custody after an aid ship bound for Gaza was seized by the Israeli navy on Tuesday. Among them are a nobel peace prize winner, and two Al Jazeera journalists. The Free Gaza movement sent the ship loaded with humanitarian supplies from Cyprus, in defiance of Israel’s crippling 2-year blockade.
Mairead Maguire, a peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke to us from inside Tel Aviv’s Ramla Givon high security prison.
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Report from the Kidnapped Passengers in Ramle Prison, July 4, 2009
Written by Free Gaza Team
Sunday, 05 July 2009 11:21
On Monday, June 30, 21 passengers going to challenge the blockade of Gaza on board the Spirit of Humanity were seized by the Israeli Navy and taken to Israel against their will. All their equipment was taken and some of were roughed up. All were thrown into prison to await Israel’s decision on how and when they would be deported.
The majority of the group ended up in Ramle Prison. Those of us who are Free Gaza organizers had been hearing some news from them, statements, interviews and letters since they arrived. From the first night, the Free Gaza 21 have been busy trying to get news out of the prison about the illegality of Israel’s actions in relation to themselves and the other inmates inside Ramle Prison who have no voice.
Report from E: I received a 2am phone call during one of the first sleepless nights from Ramle Prison to let me know that in one of the cells, four of the FG group had been busy writing a press release on an old phone one of their cellmates had loaned them. It had taken them hours to write the press release. but they were just ready to send it out, and ‘could I check my email to see if I had received it?’
Since that first night I have been hearing more increasingly about the plight of the other inmates of the prison; men and women who have not nearly as good an opportunity as our folk for media coverage of their stories and not nearly as good an opportunity as our folk of ever getting out of Ramle Prison.
To Fathi Jaouadi, Adie Mormesh, Ishmael Blagrove, and Captain Denis Healy, the situation of their fellow inmates is something they want to talk about and act upon. Fathi wanted to pass on news of what they have been doing inside Ramle prison; he wanted to let everyone who supports the Free Gaza Movement know that ‘Free Gaza Members are never lost for things to do when it comes to trying to expose Israel’s appalling treatment of not just Palestinians, but all people who come to Palestine and get caught up in Israel’s abuse of justice and the law.’
Fathi Jaouadi has been actively involved in Palestinian rights since he was 15 years old. Now in Ramle prison, he has already managed to organize a meeting with a UN representative and to raise the issue of the other inmates with him. He said that the UN official has agreed to follow up on some of the cases; Fathi has also been in contact with local NGO’s to raise the issue of many of the inmate’s situations. He told me he wants to focus on the fact that none of the inmates have any access to legal advice or help, most of the inmates have not been able to contact family to let them know of their situation and none of the inmates have committed anything that warrants them to be held indefinitely inside Ramle prison.
Fathi is in the process of collecting statements from all the inmates, and he is translating them from Arabic. He says the majority of the inmates in their cell are from Arab countries, and they have not had access to their embassy officials. He will follow up with the UN and other organizations once he is released, contact all the families and give statements and details to the relevant embassies.
Ishmael Blagrove is a well-known documentary filmmaker and has been speaking extensively about the Palestinian struggle for more than twenty years. In Ramle prison, he has been working tirelessly to get contact with refugee councils and organizations in Britain to present to them the case of the refugees inside. He says that many of the men from neighbouring Arab countries just want to go home, they don’t want to stay in Israel and yet they are not being given the opportunity to speak. Ishmael says that many of the inmates are entitled to legal representation, but they do not know this, nor do they have any idea how to contact any refugee organization to advise them. Ishmael is in the process of establishing links between the refugee councils in Britain and the inmates of his cell in Ramle Prison.
Fathi and Ishmael have already established channels to publish these issues in Britain on their release.
When we called Ramle Prison today Fathi said that Adie had just finished his daily English lesson with the inmates. Adie is reportedly very happy with the progress of his students and said this morning they had successfully completed an intense session on Past Participles. Adie Mormesh has also been very active for the rights of Palestinians for many years. He spent two weeks in the West Bank with the Olive Coop (Zeitoun) and Action Palestine in 2007. He worked with and documented the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Campaign and participated in the World Social Forums for Palestine in Porto Alegre and Mumbai in 2003 and 2004. He has now become a teacher of English in Ramle prison.
Captain Denis Healey who has been the Free Gaza Movement’s captain since October 2008 and bravely steered the DIGNITY to safety in December when she was attacked by the Israeli Navy at sea, has also been quite busy; he has been giving in-depth lectures to his fellow inmates about life at sea. Apparently there are many interested parties amongst the inmates; some hope that they may pursue a life on the sea when (and sadly if) they ever get out. They are full of questions as to the procedure of getting qualified to work on and sail boats in the Mediterranean, and Captain Denis is giving them a good run down on what they should do to follow such a dream.
This is how four of our passengers have been keeping busy during the past week, they wanted to let you all know; they also said they realize the news they are sending out is not new to any of us. We have all been working with these issues of injustice for years. But that doesn’t mean that every new story about the violation of human rights, about the cruelty, brutality and flagrant misuse of justice by Israel should not be published.
Our friends are stuck in Ramle prison, because they tried to visit the war-stricken people of Gaza, and they are furious at what they are seeing. They know they have generated media interest around the world, and that sooner or later, they will leave Ramle Prison, but they also know that the other inmates of the prison have no such privilege, and without our interest in them, they could well be stuck inside Ramle prison for the rest of their lives, or exiled to some foreign country that is not their home, facing a life without family or loved ones to share it with. And so it is for the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners at present inside Israeli jails. Every one of them has a story that ought to be heard.
Statement #1 taken by Fathi Jaouadi.
From Ramle Prison, 3rd July 2009.
My name is M.
I am 26 years old.
I am a Palestinian born in Al Quds and I hold a birth certificate showing this. My family comes from a village called Sour Bahr.
We have two houses there owned by my grandfather who fled in ’48 to Jordan and left the houses with my Aunt.
When I was 5 years old I went with my family to Jordan to bring back the papers that proved our ownership of these two houses. We stayed in Jordan for 2 years and then, when we had all the papers we came back to Sour Bahr.
I lived all my life in one of the houses and some of my family lived in the other. We always used to make our way between our two houses which were only minutes apart from each other.
However when the Wall was built, it split our two houses apart. It used to take minutes and then it took 4 ½ hours to go from house to house.
The house I lived in was in the West Bank, the other on the side of the Wall that is Al Quds.
When I was 16 I began the process to try and obtain Israeli ID so that I could continue to enter Al Quds and go to our house that was on the other side of the Wall.
Every day my mother would go to the Interior Ministry to try and obtain my ID. She contacted many lawyers about the case but although she worked on this for 8 years, there was no result. During this time I tried often to visit our house on the Al Quds side of the wall and every time I was caught by the Israeli forces and sent back to the West Bank.
When I was 24 years old I had a fight with a friend, I was caught by Israel during the fight and imprisoned for 1 ½ years.
I am a normal Palestinian trying to live a normal life. I am not involved in any political movement and I have no security issues with Israel. I am just trying to live my life, but when I had served my time in prison for fighting with a friend, Israel could not decide where to release me.
My birth certificate said Al Quds but I had no Israeli ID. When Israel started investigating, they discovered that when I was 5 years old I had gone with my family to Jordan for 2 years.
It was then that I was told by an Israeli judge that the Law states:
‘Any Palestinian who spends 2 years outside Israel has no right to return’
I have since seen Judge twice in the past two months. and he has told me that I will be returned to Jordan.
But Jordan has refused to accept me. So now I have been told I will just have to wait in prison.
I am very depressed now and hate my life. I am afraid of how long they will make me wait. It could be years. I am afraid I will be sent to Jordan. I have no one in Jordan. I was there when I was 5 years old! All my family are in Palestine. I know if they send me to Jordan I will never be allowed back into Palestine. I will never be allowed to see my family again. And I have done nothing.
I just want to be allowed to live a simple life with my family and the people I know and love, in my own land.
Statement by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
Written by Free Gaza Movement
Sunday, 05 July 2009 17:43
Former Malaysian PM Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad Condemns the Abduction and Detention of Cynthia McKinney, Mairead Maguire and members of the Free Gaza Movement by Israel
It was indeed shocking to hear about the detention of vessels carrying humanitarian aid and the abduction and arrest of the volunteers on board the Gaza-bound ships. The fact that the Israeli Government committed these acts while the ships and volunteers were in international waters reflects the arrogance of the Zionist administration. That it was committed with such impunity, with total disregard of the international community further emphasizes how dangerous Israel is to the global peace equation.
To add insult, President Barack Obama had very recently said that Israel must allow humanitarian aid be channeled to the Palestinians in Gaza who are dying due to the stranglehold imposed by Tel Aviv.
We demand that the Israeli Government to immediately release the volunteers and the vessels including the aid on board unconditionally.
Failing which we expect President Obama to walk the talk and take Israel to task and to ensure the immediate release of the volunteers and boats.
We hope President Obama is aware that the volunteers include an upright American former Congressman Cynthia McKinney as well as Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire.
DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
Perdana Global Peace Organisation
From Anita Stewart:
7/5/09 LATEST UPDATES on the GAZA 21 and Cynthia McKinney
As of this morning, the Americans were moved to a detainment facility that is close to the airport.
FLASH: As I am writing this at 7PM EST, the latest unconfirmed reports have Cynthia McKinney returning to the US with the port of entry being NYC sometime in the late afternoon/early evening on Monday 7/6/09. Approximately 24 hours from now. Plan on a welcoming party and a press conference. GET READY! More info will be posted as soon as it is confirmed!
McKinney Relocated from Israeli Prison
by Meryl Ann Butler
July 5, 2009
At around noon on July 5, EST, a phone call, from a verifiable source, was received by a member of former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s camp indicating that the American prisoners in Israel have been moved to a detainment facility closer to the Ben Gurion Airport.
McKinney’s imprisonment has shed additional light upon the plight of Gaza – which is one of two possible results of her trip – the other one being that supplies and a little joy for the children might have actually been delivered.
Either way, it’s a step toward healing Gaza. And the Palestinians, observing the commitment of the humanitarians to delivering aid, see that some of the world cares.
None of McKinney’s Congressional colleagues, nor those compatriots with whom she was involved in the presidential race, have made a public statement on her behalf since her capture on June 30.
These events have brought to light just how much help an American citizen – whether a former public servant or not – incarcerated in Israel, under very suspicious circumstances, can expect from their government.
From John Judge:
I just got a call confirming that former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and three other U.S. citizens were transferred from the Israeli prison at Ramale to Ben Gurion airport in Israel, the standard site for deportations. This information came originally from Mairead Maguire, the Irish Nobel laureate and was confirmed by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, which is sending representatives to the airport. Maguire was told that the authorities would return to take her next, but she stated she is concerned about the fate of the remaining prisoners from Yemen, Jordon, the UK, Scotland, Palestine and Denmark, and may refuse to be released until all are released.
What possible grounds do the Israelis have to release these kidnapped prisoners a few at a time? If one is released then all should be released, since none of them acted differently than the others. I have been told that the form Cynthia McKinney was asked to sign was written in Hebrew, which if true is also illegal. She refused to sign the form, in any case, and then the Israeli authorities claimed that Israeli law required her to be held an additional three days, until Monday, July 6. Her early release today may reflect the level of pressure on Israel and the U.S. authorities generated by your work. By my count, the following twelve prisoners remain in Ramale:
Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.
Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.
Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.
Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.
Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.
Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.
Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.
Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.
Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.
Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.
Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.
Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.
— John Judge
Researcher, Lecturer, Congressional staff
Real Democracy Project
PO Box 7147
Washington, DC 20044
FROM FREE GAZA:
Some of the UK FreeGaza 21 detainees likely to be deported Monday, should arrive to Heathrow 13.30 Monday.
We have just heard that at least 3 of the 6 British FreeGaza detainees are being put on a flight to London in the morning, due to arrive at Heathrow at 13.30 p.m.
Because it is a Sunday and we have only just heard this news, we are trying to spread the word as well as we can – so we’d be really really grateful if you could forward this email to your contacts. Some relatives and supporters will be there to meet them – but we ask anyone in the London area who is able to go to the airport to meet them to do so.
We are currently unable to make contact with the group, who have been moved to cells at Ben Gurion airport detention center. Once we have confirmation that they are on the morning flight, we will post to our website: http://www.freegaza.org
If you live in the London area, please try and make it down to Heathrow to meet them. We expect to have journalists at the airport to report on their deportation, and we are trying to arrange for a press conference in London for later in the afternoon.
More to follow! … http://www.freegaza.org