Lafi Awad was not yet 10 when he began taking part in protests.
The protests erupted in 2004 as it became plain that the wall Israel was building in the West Bank would divide his home village of Budrus. His family were among the Palestinians whose olive trees were earmarked for destruction as Israel confiscated much of the village’s land.
Lafi belonged to a generation that was politicized by Israel’s wall. He felt an urgent need to take action against the dispossession it was causing.
È stato arrestato insieme a sei dei suoi compagni il 30 dicembre 2013, in un raid delle forze di sicurezza siriane nella loro casa a Damasco. È stato il suo secondo arresto nel giro di altrettanti anni.
Tra i membri fondatori della Gioventù siriana rivoluzionaria, un collettivo di sinistra non-violento della capitale siriana, Imad è stato arrestato la prima volta nel novembre 2012. Quasi tre mesi di detenzione, 37 giorni in cella di isolamento, e torture continue possono portare molti a capitolare. Imad, allora ventiquattrenne e con poca esperienza politica prima della rivolta siriana, è rimasto ben saldo e non si è piegato sotto interrogatorio.
Poco dopo essere stato rilasciato, è partito dalla Siria per l’Egitto. Ma non riusciva a stare lontano dal suo Paese e così ha deciso di tornare.
In quel momento Damasco era in una morsa ancora più stretta di prima: se fare o organizzare azioni di protesta era stato difficilissimo nel 2011 e nel 2012, nel 2013 era diventato praticamente impossibile.
Durante il primo arresto di Imad, i suoi amici hanno creato una pagina Facebook per chiedere la libertà per lui e per i suoi due compagni attivisti della Gioventù rivoluzionaria imprigionati con lui.
Aprire pagine Facebook per chiedere il rilascio di detenuti era una pratica abituale durante i primi due anni della rivolta. L’atto stesso della loro creazione illustrava un cambiamento significativo per un Paese in cui le detenzioni politiche prima della rivolta erano coperte dalla massima segretezza e censura. Ma attestava anche dove erano riusciti ad arrivare i siriani e le varie crepe che erano riusciti ad aprire nel muro di paura del regime un tempo impenetrabile.
E invece la pagina Facebook creata in seguito al secondo arresto di Imad (avvenuto stavolta insieme a sei dei suoi amici) è stata presto rimossa su richiesta dei familiari dei detenuti. Questa volta dicevano di non volere che si facesse rumore né pubblicità. Un dettaglio che sembra piccolo mostra, invece, un nuovo cambiamento di rotta in Siria.
Mentre la rivolta lasciava infine il passo alla guerra civile, le iniziali scintille di speranza e ottimismo sono state represse e si sono tramutate in disperazione assoluta. Quelle crepe che i siriani avevano aperto nel muro impenetrabile erano quasi del tutto svanite, lasciando il passo a una paura ancora più grande: paura persino di dire soltanto che un figlio o una figlia erano stati arrestati, paura di chiederne il rilascio, paura anche soltanto di pronunciare i loro nomi.
Notizie della morte sotto tortura di ognuno degli amici di Imad sono iniziate a trapelare, uno dopo l’altro. In effetti, sei dei sette arrestati quella notte, tra cui lo stesso Imad, sono stati uccisi così.
Non è inusuale che ci sentiamo impotenti quando veniamo a sapere che dei detenuti sono stati torturati a morte in un altro Paese, consapevoli che questo è stato il destino di migliaia di civili dal 2011. Ma l’impotenza assume un significato del tutto nuovo quando le nostre labbra si saldano l’una all’altra per la paura, al punto che siamo incapaci di parlare di quelli che sono stati uccisi, non possiamo onorarne la memoria, piangerne la perdita, rendere loro omaggio, raccontare le loro storie, condividere le loro foto…
Qui in Palestina, abbiamo l’opportunità di scendere in strada in solidarietà con i prigionieri politici, urlare a squarciagola per loro mentre nel frattempo veniamo raggiunti dai lacrimogeni, ci sparano addosso e veniamo picchiati. Abbiamo anche la possibilità di condividere le storie dei nostri “martiri” e tributar loro l’omaggio che meritano.
In Siria, un Paese governato dalla tirannia della paura e del silenzio, avere un nome è una maledizione da vivi e da morti, e anche condividere le storie e i nomi della maggior parte delle vittime non è mai dato per scontato. Ciò spiega perché non abbiamo potuto scrivere il cognome di Imad e perché così tanti detenuti in Siria, vivi e morti, restano senza nome. Non solo perché sono troppi per essere documentati, ma anche perché a molti anche solo nominarli fa paura.
In tal senso, la sparizione forzata in Siria non prende di mira solo i corpi delle persone, ne colpisce anche i nomi, il ricordo e l’eredità. Priva centinaia di migliaia di persone del loro nome, quasi annichilendo la loro stessa esistenza e strappando ai loro cari ogni prova tangibile cui aggrapparsi dopo la loro morte.
Nel suo saggio su “The New Inquiry”, Genna Brager spiega che la sparizione forzata non è solo un eufemismo per l’omicidio di Stato, ma una “creazione necropolitica di classi usa e getta la cui eliminazione è intrinseca al capitalismo”. La decostruzione che fa Brager dell’apparato di sparizione così come è stato usato in America Latina nel corso degli anni ’70 e ’80 riecheggia nella Siria di Bashar al Asad.
In Siria l’apparato di sparizione forzata non cerca solo di coprire le prove, scagionare i colpevoli e intimidire i sopravvissuti. Funziona anche per sovvenzionare il complesso industriale carcerario del regime siriano. I numerosi servizi di sicurezza e intelligence usano le informazioni di cui sono in possesso come merce di scambio, sviando i famigliari e sfruttandone i bisogni, l’impotenza e la vulnerabilità, obbligandoli infine a pagare milioni di lire siriane per una prova che non arriverà mai.
Paura, silenzio, sfruttamento e intimidazione divengono essenziali al perpetuarsi delle sparizioni forzate come arma efficace nell’arsenale dello Stato contro la gente, contro la classe usa e getta “non desiderata”.
Diventa più che una misura punitiva per ingabbiare dissidenti e reprimere il dissenso. Porta con sé un impatto assai più distruttivo e collettivo, aleggiando costantemente su intere comunità.
Nel contesto siriano, parlare di “detenzione arbitraria” è una stravaganza legale e perfino comparire a un processo-farsa è un lusso.
Non sorprende, dunque, che molti siriani dicano di preferire morire uccisi da un missile o da un colpo di mortaio, piuttosto che finire in carcere. Non solo perché è molto più tollerabile e indolore della morte lenta e quotidiana in prigione, ma anche perché, perfino quando il razzo fa a pezzi il corpo delle vittime, lascia alla famiglia – a differenza della morte sotto tortura – qualcosa da piangere, una prova materiale da afferrare e una bara da seppellire.
Far sparire in modo forzato centinaia di migliaia di persone, ucciderne migliaia sotto tortura e poi telefonare con non curanza ai genitori per dire di andare a prendersi le carte di identità, senza neppure permettere loro di vedere il corpo, è il paradigma di una disumanizzazione sistematica e deliberata. Disumanizzare i detenuti facendoli svanire nel nulla, trasformarli in numeri e scaricarne i corpi in fosse comuni. E al contempo, disumanizzare i loro cari, strappando loro il diritto a compiangerli, a gridare, a dare un ultimo addio, a vedere e conoscere la verità e a porre una fine – per quanto straziante – alla loro agonia.
Alcuni giorni dopo che Maria è stata arrestata dalle forze di sicurezza siriane, un amico di famiglia ha condiviso la sua foto su Facebook e fatto appello per il suo rilascio. In qualunque altro Paese, si tratterebbe di un atto semplice e inoffensivo. Ma non in Siria. All’amico è stato presto chiesto di rimuovere la foto, perché la sua famiglia aveva paura che anche un post tanto banale potesse avere qualche ripercussione negativa su di lei. Maria è stata per fortuna rilasciata, ma centinaia di migliaia di Maria ancora languiscono nelle prigioni siriane mentre i loro cari non osano neppure chiederne il rilascio.
Un pensiero deve andare a loro ogni volta che scriviamo un hashtag con i nomi di prigionieri. Perché in Siria per le centinaia di migliaia di persone vittime di sparizione forzata non ci saranno mai hashtag e neppure per le loro tragedie.
Nella Siria di Assad le famiglie sono stanche di sperare che i loro cari saranno liberati. Tutto ciò che possono dire, dopo che si stima che 20 mila persone sono state uccise sotto tortura, è “Salvate quelli che rimangono!”. Già sanno che nessuno ascolterà le loro voci spezzate e i loro appelli.
He was arrested along with six of his comrades on 30 December, 2013, in a raid by Syrian security forces on their home in Damascus. It was his second arrest in as many years.
A founding member of the Revolutionary Syrian Youth, a nonviolent leftist collective based in the Syrian capital, Imad was arrested for the first time in November 2012. Almost three months in detention, thirty-seven days of solitary confinement, and non-stop torture might lead many to capitulate. Imad, then aged 24 and with little political experience prior to the Syrian uprising, held firm and did not wilt under interrogation.
Shortly after his release, he left Syria for Egypt. But he couldn’t stay away from his country and so decided to go back.
By then, Damascus had become even more strangled than before; if holding or organizing protest actions had been extremely difficult in 2011 and 2012, by 2013 it had become virtually impossible.
It was during Imad’s first arrest when his friends created a Facebook page demanding freedom for him and for the two fellow Revolutionary Youth activists taken prisoner with him.
Creating Facebook pages demanding the release of detainees was common during the first two years of the uprising. Their creation in itself illustrated a remarkable change in a country where political detentions before the uprising used to be cloaked with the utmost secrecy and censorship. But it was also a testament to the lengths that Syrians had come and of the various cracks they managed to break in the regime’s previously impenetrable wall of fear.
But the Facebook page created following Imad’s second arrest, this time with six of his friends, was quickly removed at the request of the detainees’ families. This time around, they said, they did not want any noise or publicity. A seemingly small detail, one illustrating a new shift taking place in Syria.
As the revolt eventually gave way to civil war, the initial sparks of hope and buoyancy were quashed and transmuted into utter despair. The cracks that Syrians had made in that impenetrable wall had all but faded, giving way to even greater fear: fear of the mere mention that a son or daughter had been detained; fear of demanding their release; fear of merely uttering their names.
Of each of Imad’s friends, news of their death under torture began to trickle in, one by one. Indeed, six of the seven who were arrested on that night, including Imad, were killed in this way.
It’s not uncommon to feel helpless when we hear that detainees are being tortured to death in another country, knowing that this has been the fate of thousands of civilians since 2011. But helplessness assumes a whole new meaning when our lips have been fused together by fear—this, to the point where we are unable to talk about those who have been killed; we cannot honor their memory, mourn their loss, pay them tribute, tell the stories, share their pictures.
Here in Palestine, we have the opportunity to take to the streets in solidarity with political prisoners, scream our lungs out for them and get tear-gassed, shot and beaten in the process. We also have the chance to share the stories of our martyrs and pay them the homage they deserve.
In Syria, a country ruled by the tyranny of fear and silence, having a name is a curse in life and in death, and even sharing the stories and names of most victims is never taken for granted. This explains why we couldn’t write Imad’s last name and why so many of Syria’s detainees, alive and dead, remain unnamed. Not just because they are too many to be documented, but also because many fear to simply name them.
In this sense, forced disappearance in Syria doesn’t just target people’s bodies; it also targets their names, memory and legacy. It renders hundreds of thousands of people nameless, almost annihilating their very existence and stripping their loved ones of any tangible evidence to clutch at after their death.
In her essay in TheNew Enquiry, Genna Brager explains that forced disappearance is not just a euphemism for state murder, but a “necropolitical creation of disposable classes whose disposal is intrinsic to capitalism.” Brager’s deconstruction of the apparatus of disappearance as used in Latin America during the 1970s and the 1980s echoes in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria.
In Syria, the forced disappearance apparatus doesn’t only seek to conceal evidence, exonerate perpetrators, and intimidate the survivors. It also operates to subsidize the Syrian regime’s prison industrial complex. The numerous security and intelligence services use the information they withhold as a bargaining chip, misleading families and exploiting their need, powerlessness and vulnerability, eventually forcing them to pay millions of SYPs for the evidence that will never come.
Fear, silence, exploitation and intimidation become essential to the perpetuation of forced disappearance as an effective weapon in the state’s arsenal against the people, against the “unwanted” disposable class.
It becomes more than just a punitive measure for caging dissidents and squelching dissent. It carries a far more destructive and collective impact, constantly hovering over entire communities.
In the Syrian context, talking about “arbitrary detention” is a legal extravagance and standing even a sham trial is a luxury.
It comes as no surprise, then, when many Syrians tell you that they prefer to be killed by a missile or a shell over being detained. It’s not just the fact that the latter is far more tolerable and painless than the slow, daily death in detention. But also, even when the rocket tears the body of the victims asunder, it does, unlike death under torture, leave something for the family to mourn, material proof to grasp, and a grave to bury.
Forcibly disappearing hundreds of thousands, killing thousands of them under torture and then casually phoning their parents to tell them to come get their IDs, without even allowing them to see the corpse, is the epitome of systematic and deliberate dehumanization. Dehumanizing the detainees by vanishing them, turning them into numbers and dumping their corpses in mass graves; dehumanizing their loved ones by stripping them of the right to mourn, to shout, to say a final goodbye, to see and know the truth, and to have a closure—albeit heart-wrenching— to their agony.
Few days after Maria was arrested by Syrian security forces, a family friend shared her picture on Facebook and called for her release. In any other country, that would be a basic, harmless act. Not so in Syria. Her friend was soon asked to remove the picture, her family fearing that even such a mundane post might have some negative repercussion on her. Maria was fortunately released, but hundreds of thousands of Marias are still languishing in Syrian prisons with their loved ones not even daring to call for their release.
A thought has to be spared to those whenever we write down a hashtag that includes the names of prisoners. Because in Syria, the hundreds of thousands of forcibly disappeared will never be hashtagged, and neither will be their tragedies.
In Assad’s Syria, families are tired of hoping that their loved ones will be free; all they can say, after an estimated 20,000 had been killed under torture is, “Save the rest!” They already know that no one will listen to their shattered voices and pleas.
In early March of this year, about 6,000 smuggled photographs of torture victims in Syrian regime jails were leaked on the internet and published on various web sites.
The eyes of parents, siblings, partners and relatives of Syrian detainees became transfixed on their screens. Sorting through pictures of hardly-recognizable corpses, they wondered if they might find a trace of their loved ones.
Known as the “Caesar” photographs, in reference to the pseudonym of the defected Syrian sergeant and forensic photographer who smuggled the images out of Syria, the photographs inevitably lead us to question the morality and ethics of disseminating graphic portrayals of dead bodies on the internet.
Important as it is, however, any normative debate in this case would sound almost preposterous and a form of intellectual temerity once we realize that what those pictures revealed was the tragic fate of at least tens of prisoners whose destination had been unknown for months or even years.
It is, without a doubt, unspeakably painful to first learn about the fate of a son, husband, or sister through a leaked photograph on the internet. Yet for those who spent months and perhaps years begging prison guards and intelligence officers for a scrub of information about their detainees; for those who were repeatedly blackmailed by informants throughout the search; for those who waited in vain and oscillated between hope and despair: for them, these images, harrowing as they were, represented a rescue from endless nights of waiting, releasing them from the indefinite confinement of the shackles called hope.
More “fortunate” Syrians learn about their family members’ death under torture through a phone call made by security services, one in which they are told to come and pick up the identification and any personal possessions the deceased has left behind. Victims’ bodies are not delivered back to the family for proper burial; the official cause of the death remains “unknown;” and people are deprived even of the right to mourn their dead or clutch at a physical evidence of their loss.
But with hundreds of thousands of imprisoned and forcibly disappeared Syrians, many do not have the “privilege” of learning about the death of their loved ones first-hand.
They are either forced to wait and hope, or be left to the mercy of serendipity and, as happened with the Caesar photographs, find out about their death through a leaked image of the corpse.
Since the publication of the leaked torture photos in early March, tens of victims were identified by their families. Those included at least 65 photos of Palestinian refugee victims recognized either by their families or by activists. The names of these victims were documented by the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria in April. The London-based monitoring group, tasked with documenting human rights violations inflicted upon Syria’s Palestinians, had published a report earlier in March entitled Photos Massacre that listed the names of 39 Palestinian victims of torture and forced disappearance. Their corpses were identified through the leaked images.
One of the most widely circulated photos was that of a corpse, apparently belonging to a Palestinian refugee, with a tattoo of the map of Palestine emblazoned with the colors of the Palestinian flag.
Attached to the corpse, a scrap of paper displaying the torture victim’s number—the coup de grâce toward the obliteration of personhood in Syria’s myriad dungeons.
Being confronted by such a wildly symbolic image, it becomes impossible to not wonder: What if that image belonged to a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli occupation jails? Would Palestinians and pro-Palestinians who currently support the Syrian regime react otherwise if the caption on that picture were altered and if it stated that he was killed in an Israeli prison rather than in a Syrian one? One could be forgiven for assuming that, had this man died in an Israeli jail, his picture would become iconic among Palestinians and supporters of their cause, and would be pointed to over and over again as yet more proof of Israel’s brutality and Palestinian defiance in the face of it.
Yet as it stands, neither the photo of the slain Palestinian prisoner whose arm bore the Palestinian map tattoo, nor the photos of tens of Palestinians killed under torture in Syrian regime jails have caused outrage or defiance in Palestine or among Palestinian solidarity activists. They were not killed by ISIS or the Israeli occupation, but by the Syrian regime that still enjoys the support of large segments of Palestinian political factions, public opinion, and many left-wing circles associated with the Palestinian cause. And therefore, Palestinian victims of the Syrian regime had the misfortune of falling to the “wrong perpetrator.”
It is precisely the identity of the perpetrator that deems the images of Palestinian torture victims in Syria invisible, changes their status from revered martyrs and heroes to contested numbers, and renders their plight unworthy of our solidarity.
Since the eruption of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, more than 400 Palestinian-Syrians have been killed under torture in Syrian regime jails. When this fact is presented to Palestinians who support the Syrian regime, some of them dispute it, some have the audacity to dispute it and even claim that those mostly innocent civilians and peaceful activists had been actually killed by ISIS or Nusra front. Others simply say that, “Now is not the time; there are more important things to talk about.” For them, those thousands of Palestinians who have been either killed, imprisoned, or displaced by the Syrian regime are a superfluous group that needs to be dislodged, overlooked and sacrificed for a “greater cause”—that is, the liberation of Palestine—as if the liberation of Palestine means anything when Palestinians in a neighboring country die in their thousands while we look away.
Thus, when we affirm that our freedom and dignity as Palestinians cannot come at the expense of others, including our fellow Palestinians, we are described as naïve. They ask that we regard the deaths of fellow Palestinians at the hands of the Syrian regime and the siege, destruction and shelling of their camps little more than irrelevant minutiae that must be shrugged off for far more significant geo-political considerations.
Little does it matter that this road is paved by the blood of hundreds of thousands of Syrians; little does it matter that taking this road means treading upon the dignity and rights of a people who have historically supported our cause like no other—and not thanks to the regime but in spite of it. It doesn’t even matter that Hassan Nasrallah’s road is filled with the corpses of Palestinians killed by the regime or that his compass is directed towards perpetuating oppression and monopolizing resistance.
One has to be pragmatic, they tell us, and we do not have the luxury of choosing our allies according to our ideological convictions. This is used to justify siding with and cheering on the Syrian and Iranian regimes and Hezbollah, just as it was previously used in the 1980s to support Saddam Hussein. “He scared the hell out of Israel!” they told us. This was supposed to be sufficient to make us overlook the fact that he gassed thousands of Kurds to death or that he committed unspeakable atrocities in Kuwait.
Just as we are today being asked to overlook the suffering of Syrians and Palestinians at the hands of the Syrian regime for the purported “greater cause,” we were being encouraged to chant for Saddam and hang his pictures on the wall. He too, they said, was an enemy to Israel.
One of the many problems with this approach is that we only apply it to ourselves. We express our indignation if another oppressed people strikes an alliance with the US or Israel; we delegitimize an entire people’s uprising base on the fact that they received funding from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. (Incidentally, this was the very same Qatar that the “resistance” showered with gratitude not so long ago.)
We hypocritically deny them the very same pragmatism that we adopt to rationalize our support of oppressive regimes. We fail to understand that for Zabadani’s Syrians, Iran and Hezbollah are occupying forces trying to uproot and ethnically cleanse them, precisely the way Israel has been doing to us. We fail to understand that the Syrian regime and its allies have become to them what Israel and the United States have been to us. And so we do not take a minute to put ourselves in the shoes of Syrian resistance fighters in Zabadani who, for two months, have somehow thwarted a far more superior military force, backed by non-stop aerial bombardment.
If we continue to believe that Hassan Nasrallah’s road to Palestine is the only one open to us, we do not have the moral ground to condemn those who falsely or misleadingly claim that their road to salvation is through peace with Israel.
Combatting all the no-longer-ulterior agenda to normalize the relations between Syrians and Israel cannot be achieved by supporting Assad and Nasrallah. It starts with explicitly and vehemently refusing that our cause be used to condone the killing, humiliation and subjugation of Syrians; it starts by re-affirming our commitment to Syria’s liberation of all forms of oppression. It starts by realizing that our liberation struggle cannot and will not treat Syrians as pawns.
Unfortunately, Palestinians will continue to be killed in Syrian regime jails and so will Syrians; Palestinian camps will continue to suffer under Syrian regime siege and so will Syrian towns and cities. True solidarity with the Syrian people and with Syria’s Palestinians requires us to stand firm in the face of the regime that carries prime responsibility for this.
And for one, our solidarity must be principled rather than selective; it has to be based on the universal values that the Palestinian liberation struggle and the Syrian revolution are based on. It cannot be modeled on the identity of the oppressor, or dictated by the tone of Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches.
In what would be the first case since last month’s adoption of a controversial law, Israeli authorities have declared their intention to force feed a hunger-striking Palestinian, his lawyer said Saturday.
Mohammed Allan, 33, who is a lawyer, has been held in Israeli custody without charge under a policy known as administrative detention since last November. More than 50 days ago, he began a hunger strike in protest.
Despite his deteriorating conditions and his move to a heavily guarded intensive care unit at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, Allan is adamant to continue his strike, a decision supported by both of his parents.
But Jamil al-Khatib, his attorney, told MEE that Israeli judicial officials say they plan to force feed his client, using him as a test case for the new force feeding law passed last month.
In a statement published by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the group said “force-feeding violates medical ethics as it administers forceful treatment to a patient against his will, and is considered a form of torture.”
The law has been criticised by international human rights and medical organisations including Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights and the World Medical Association which expressed its denunciation of the bill when it was still discussed in the Knesset, describing it as “violent, very painful and absolutely in opposition to the principle of individual autonomy”.
Israeli officials are expected to file their request with an Israeli district court on Saturday night. At the same time, Allan’s supporters have planned a solidarity protest at the hospital where Allan’s mother launched her own hunger strike when officials initially prevented her from seeing her son.
“Even if the request of the Israeli Prison services and the prosecution is accepted by the District Court, we will issue a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice against the constitutionality of this law,” Jamil Khatib, Muhammad Allan’s lawyer, told Middle East Eye.
“Of course, since this is an issue of life and death, we will demand an injunction against force-feeding from the court. But this is not Allan’s problem alone, this is an issue that faces all Palestinian prisoners, especially administrative detainees.”
Hunger striking is the only nonviolent weapon at the disposal of Palestinian prisoners, particularly administrative detainees who are held without charges or trial and do not know what evidence has been used to incarcerate them.
According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the number of Palestinian held under administrative detention in Israeli occupation jails had reached 370 by the of June 2015.
In an attempt to highlight the inhumanity and danger of force feeding, artist Mos Def, also known as Yasiin Bey, simulated the procedure in a widely circulated video published by the Guardian.
The video targeted an American audience amidst the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners that was taking place in Guantanamo Bay, but Palestinian prisoner and a repeat hunger striker, Khader Adnan, told MEE that he believes there is no difference between Israel’s practices and the US.
“Israel uses the US administration’s practice in Guantanamo to put a stamp of legitimacy on its law, but this is a desperate attempt,” Adnan told MEE.
“The fact that Israel is resorting to this practice shows failure to deal with the resistance of prisoners and further exposes its injustice,” he said.
‘Tear me to shreds’
Allan was previously imprisoned by Israel in 2006 and was sentenced to three years in jail.
Soon after his release, he finished his training as a lawyer and became a member of the Palestinian Bar Association. Allan, the youngest of four sons, is supported by his parents with his hunger strike.
On Friday, Allan’s mother, Maazouza Odeh, arrived from her Nablus village of Ein Bos at Soroka Hospital, hoping to see her son, but doctors and other hospital staff initially refused her request.
“Even if you tear me to shreds, I’m not going to leave the hospital unless my son is with me,” she shouted.
In response, Odeh started her own hunger-strike and staged a sit-in outside the hospital despite the scorching desert heat amid a heat wave rocking the country.
After being threatened with arrest several times and sleeping outside the hospital, Odeh was finally allowed to see her youngest son on Saturday afternoon. Despite his critical conditions, seeing her son had given her a measure of relief.
“It was the first time I’ve seen him since June. He broke my heart but I support his strike until all his rights are guaranteed and I will never ask him to end it until he achieves his freedom,” an emotional Odeh told MEE.
Allan’s father, Nasreddine Allan, told MEE that he is frustrated by the lack of tangible actions made to help his son, despite the media attention his case has garnered.
“Unfortunately, the media attention given to my son’s case complemented by a sufficient popular support. Much of the reaction we have seen has been largely symbolic but no actual pressure happening on the ground,” he said by phone, on his way to the funeral for Saad Dawabsha, the father of Ali Dawabsha, the toddler who was killed in an arson attack last week.
His frustration was echoed by Odeh.
“We don’t just want phone calls from journalists and people asking about my son; we are waiting for people to join us, to put pressure on the Israelis to release my son. I will not forgive anyone who has remained silent about my son’s plight,” she said.
Not all cases the same
Beyond stripping prisoners of their autonomy, Khatib, Allan’s lawyer, pointed out that force-feeding could pose a serious health risk to prisoners.
Force-feeding employed against Allan, he said, could become the norm against other prisoners. He is concerned, however, of the lack of sufficient action by Palestinian politicians and the public.
“The problem with the way we deal with prisoners is that we treat them only as individual cases. All the action is based on sporadic reactions that die down few days later. Unless our whole handling of the prisoners’ issue change, things are not going to get any better.”
He also insists that one should be wary of comparing Allan’s case to that of Khader Adnan, a repeat hunger striker who became the face of Palestinian resistance to administrative detention after achieving his freedom through lengthy strikes.
“The cases are entirely different as Allan’s case is much more difficult,” he says. “Allan is suspected of holding organisational role at the Islamic Jihad, of planning military action, and of adopting the “International’/Jihadi ideology.”
Yet Khatib said he believes that Allan’s case will be vital both in the struggle against administrative detention and force-feeding as a whole.
«ولدي خضر ليس عدميًّا أو هاوي معاناة ولا يبتغي مالًا أو جاهًا أو منصبًا رفيعًا»، يصرّ عدنان موسى، والد الأسير الفلسطيني المضرب عن الطعام خضر عدنان.
«هو يحبّ الطعام كثيرًا ويحرص على جودة الطعام الذي يتناوله وليس مستمتعًا بتجويع نفسه»، تردف نوال موسى، والدة خضر.
رأى الوالدان ضروريًا تأكيد ما قد يبدو بديهيًّا ونافل القول، أن ابنهما الذي طالما استخدم أمعاءه الخاوية سلاحًا لانتزاع حرّيته من سجّانيه، ليس طالب موتٍ أو عذاب، وإنما يستخدم هذه الوسيلة لثقته أنها الوحيدة المتاحة أمامه.
لماذا يُطلب من الفلسطينيين أن يثبتوا للآخرين أنهم ليسوا عشّاقَ موتٍ وأنهم يحبّون الحياة كسائر شعوب الأرض، وأن أفعالهم التي تبدو «انتحاريّةً» وبدون طائل تختزن قدرا هائلًا من الرغبة بالعيش بحدٍّ أدنى من الكرامة والحرية؟
قد يكون تشديدنا المستمرّ على غريزتنا الفطريّة بحب الحياة رد فعلٍ طبيعي على محاولات المنظومة الاستعماريّة تجريدنا من إنسانيّتنا والتي تكرّسها وسائل إعلام غربيّة كبرى من خلال تصوير الفدائيّين الفلسطينيّين كعشّاق موت وتهميش دوافعهم السياسية والدنيويّة والمادّية.
ولكن لتأكيد والدي خضر عدنان شغف ابنهما بالحياة بعدًا إضافيًّا يستهدف جميع أولئك المستهينين بفعله أو الذين ينتظرون استشهاد خضر كي يتحرّكوا، أو الذين يستهجنونه بوصفه فعلًا عدميًّا.
يدخل خضر عدنان شهره الثاني من إضرابه المفتوح عن الطعام احتجاجًا على تمديد سلطات الاحتلال الإسرائيلية أمر اعتقاله الإداري أربعة أشهرٍ إضافيّة. حين نتحدّث عن محاولات المنظومة الاستعمارية تجريد الفلسطينيين من إنسانيتهم، فإن سياسة الاعتقال الإداري التي ورثتها سلطات الاحتلال الإسرائيلية عن حكومة الانتداب البريطاني وتنتهجها لاستنزاف المجتمع الفلسطيني ووأد مقاومته، تجسد انتزاع إنسانية الفلسطيني بإحدى أكثر صورها فجاجةً. ليس الاعتقال الإداري أسوأ أو أكثر ظلمًا من سائر أشكال الاعتقال الأخرى التي يمارسها الاحتلال ويغيّب عبرها أكثر من 5000 فلسطيني في سجونه. كما لا ينحصر أفق نضال الأسرى الفلسطينيين عند المطالبة بـ«محاكمة عادلة» أو توجيه اتهامات. نحن نعلم أن لا محاكمات عادلة يمكن أن تجري تحت الاحتلال حتى لو التزمت بجميع الإجراءات القانونية والمعايير الشكلية والجوهرية التي يفرضها القانون الدولي، ببساطة لأننا لا نعترف بشرعيّة الاحتلال ومحاكمه أصلًا، ولأن ما قد تعتبره القوانين الإسرائيلية والدولية جرمًا، هو حقّنا الطبيعي بالمقاومة. لكن ما يضاعف قسوة الاعتقال الإداري هو ضبابيّته المتمثّلة بقابليّة تمديده بشكل مستمرٍّ دون أن يكون هنالك أي تحديدٍ أو إطار زمني للخلاص. في السجن المؤبّد أو طويل الأمد يعيش المعتقل في ظل يقين ما، لا يبعث بالضرورة على التفاؤل، ولكنه يعرف مصيره. أما تحت الاعتقال الإداري الذي يجهل فيها المعتقل «التهم» الموجّهة إليه فليست هنالك إمكانية ولو ضئيلة للدفاع عن النفس إذ يُلقى بالأسرى وأهلهم في نفقٍ لا تلوح له نهاية، قد يستمرون بالسير فيه أعوامًا عديدة، ومن المرجّح أن يتكرر هذا الشريط بعد الإفراج.
وهذا تمامًا ما حدث مع خضر عدنان الذي أمضى ما مجموعه ستة أعوامٍ متفرّقة في سجون الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بدون أن توجَّه له أي تهمة رسمية. فلم يجد أمامه إلا الإضراب عن الطعام كي يسلّط الضوء على قضية الاعتقال الإداري خاصة وقضية الأسرى الفلسطينيين عامة، ولكي يطالب بخلاصه الفردي من جهة أخرى.
لم يكن التفاعل الشعبي مع إضراب خضر عدنان السابق الذي امتد من كانون الأول 2011 حتى شباط 2012 فوريًّا أو سريعًا إذا أن الحشد الجماهيري وحملات الضغغط الالكترونية لم تبدأ إلا بعد دخول ابن قرية عرّابة اليوم الخامس والأربعين من إضرابه.
يبدو الدعم الشعبي لإضراب خضر عدنان الحالي هزيلًا فيما إذا قورن بالنشاطات التي شهدها إضرابه الأول، بيد أن هذه المقارنة تغفل أنه حتى خلال إضراب عدنان الأول لم يرتقِ الحراك إلى مستوى الزخم الذي تدفعنا النوستالجيا إلى تلك الأيام لتصوّره.
قد يكون أهم ما أحدثه إضراب خضر عدنان الأول فضلًا عن انتزاع الأسير خلاله حرّيته في 17 نيسان 2012، أنه أطلق الشرارة التي أشعلت فتيل حراك كان الأسرى الإداريّون محوره. فقد تبعت إضراب خضر عدنان الناجح عدة إضرابات فردية كانت أبرزها تلك التي خاضها كل من هناء الشلبي وثائر حلاحلة وبلال ذياب، ومن ثم شهدت الحركة الأسيرة إضراب ما يقارب الألفي أسير. تركزت مطالب الإضراب الذي استمر من 17 نيسان إلى 15 أيار على وضع حد لسياسة الاعتقال الإداري وإنهاء العزل الانفرادي والسماح للأهالي من قطاع غزة المحاصر بزيارة ذويهم المعتقلين في سجون الاحتلال. مع توقيع اتفاق قضى بإنهاء الإضراب مقابل تحقيق مطالب الأسرى، لم تتحقق هذه المطالب إلا جزئيًّا، أما «تعهد» سلطات الاحتلال بإعادة النظر في سياسة الاعتقال الإداري فلم يُخرق فحسب، بل يمكن القول أن الاحتلال صعّد من ممارسة هذه السياسة. ففي آذار 2012، أي الشهر الذي سبق انطلاق إضراب الأسرى للمطالبة بإنهاء الاعتقال الإداري بلغ عدد الأسرى الإداريين في سجون الاحتلال 320 أسيرًا، بينما بلغ عدد الأسرى الإداريين في نهاية شهر آذار من هذا العام 412 أسيرًا.
استمرّت الإضرابات الفردية حتى بعد انتهاء الإضراب الجماعي في أيار 2012 إلا أن معظمها اتّسم بطابعٍ فرديّ وأخفق في الدفع إلى تحرك حقيقيفي الشارع الفلسطيني.
متعددة هي العوامل التي أدت إلى تراجع ملحوظ بنجاعة الإضراب عن الطعام كوسيلة احتجاج، لكن أبرزها هو تجريد الوسيلة من طابعها الجماعي وتحويلها إلى أداة فردية. فمع أن هنالك ظروفًا موضوعية وذاتية قد تساهم في إنجاح الإضرابات الفردية، إلا أن قوة الإضراب عن الطعام كسلاح لتحدّي السجّان تكمن في جماعيّته وامتداده إلى أكبر عدد من الأسرى بغض النظر عن انتمائهم الحزبي. المبالغة في خوض إضرابات فردية طويلة الأمد أو إضرابات تفتقد إمكانية موضوعية لتحقيق هدفها أو التعبئة الجماهيرية لم تضرّ بالأسرى المضربين فحسب بل أضعفت من تأثير الإضراب كوسيلة احتجاج ومنحت سلطات السجون الإسرائييلية الآليات الكافية لمواجهة أي إضراب مقبل. امتازت الإضرابات الفردية طويلة الأمد بتزويد الأسرى المضربين عن الطعام بفيتامينات ومواد مدعمة ضمنت خلالها سلطات الاحتلال بقاء الأسرى على قيد الحياة وبذلك تجنّب تفجر الغضب الذي قد يعقب استشهاد أحد الأسرى جراء الإضراب. لا تتعامل سلطات الاحتلال مع الأسير المضرب عن الطعام كإنسانٍ يناضل من أجل كسب حريته أو تحقيق مطالبه بل كقنبلة موقوتة يجب درء خطرها بأقل الطرق كلفةً.
يبدو من المجحف انتقاد الأسرى الذين لجؤوا إلى هذا النوع من الإضرابات الجزئية والفردية عن الطعام، فكيف يُلام أسير على اللجوء إلى أسلوب المقاومة الوحيد المتوفر أمامه؟ إلا أن العوامل المذكورة تساعدنا على فهم تراجع فعالية الإضرابات عن الطعام وافتقادها قسطًا ليس ببسيط من المصداقية والتأثير.
وهنا يختلف إضراب خضر عدنان الثاني، فعلاوة عن كونه إضرابًا كاملًا لا يتناول فيه ابن الـ37 ربيعًا إلا الماء والملح (ومؤخرًا قام بتصعيد إضرابه فأصبح يرفض تناول أي شيء سوى الماء)، يحظى عدنان بإجماع واسع في أوساط الفلسطينيين على اختلاف توجهاتهم السياسية.
لم يركن عدنان بعد الإفراج عنه إلى بيته وعمله في مخبزه في عرّابة، بل كان حاضرًا باستمرار في معظم الفعاليات والتظاهرات الداعمة للأسرى أو المناهضة للتطبيع والمفاوضات. بعد أيام قليلة فقط من الإفراج عنه، شارك خضر عدنان بإضراب استمر 11 يومًا دعمًا للأسرى المضربين عن الطعام ودأب على زيارة عائلات الأسرى والشهداء برفقة زوجته رندة. تذكر رندة التي تأخذ على عاتقها الآن مسؤولية إدارة المنزل وتمثيل زوجها إعلاميًّا أنهما قاما بزيارة أكثر من 500 عائلة أسير وشهيد على امتداد الضفة الغربية منذ إطلاق سراح خضر، وتضيف أنه حال انطلاق أي مظاهرة لدعم الأسرى كان يسارع في العودة من عمله في المخبز لكي ينضم إلى المتظاهرين والمتظاهرات.
يُحسب خضر عدنان على حركة الجهاد الإسلامي، غير أنه ضمِن احترام ومحبّة شبّانٍ وشابّات ينتمون إلى تيارات فكرية مختلفة. ولا شك أن شخصيته القيادية البارزة وشعبيّته جعلت منه خطرًا ليس فقط بالنسبة للاحتلال الإسرائيلي بل بالنسبة للسلطة الفلسطينية أيضًا. حين سألت والد خضر عدنان عن سبب الصمت النسبي في الضفة الغربية تجاه قضية خضر عدنان، رغم ما يكنه له الناس من تقدير واحترام، أجاب بدون تفكير: «الخوف». – «تقصد الخوف من إسرائيل؟» – «لا، الخوف من السلطة الفلسطينية، التي حاولت ركوب قضيته حال الإفراج عنه لكنها سرعان ما وجدت فيه تهديدًا، ففي حين أن خضر يدعم المقاومة بجميع أشكالها، السلطة الفلسطينية تدعم التطبيع بجميع أشكاله»، يقول المسن الذي على الرغم من تجاوزه الـ78 من عمره، لا يزال يجري من مظاهرة لأخرى ومن مؤتمر صحفي إلى آخر من أجل دعم ابنه وكافّة الأسرى.
«تلقّينا اتصالات ورسائل دعمٍ من حلب، من أناسٍ يعيشون تحت القصف، ومن حمص ومخيم اليرموك ودمشق. تلقينا رسائل دعمٍ ن الولايات المتحدة ومن إيرلندا، أحفاد شهداء الإضراب عن الطعام في سجون الحكومة البريطاني»، يقول والد خضر عدنان، «إلا أننا لم نتلقَّ ولو كلمة دعمٍ واحدة من قادة السلطة الفلسطينية أو من وزارة الأسرى التابعة لها».
في ظل الغياب المتوقّع لدعم السلطة الفلسطينية، التي لاحقت أجهزتها الأمنية خضر عدنان عدة مرات بعد الإفراج عنه، تزداد المسؤولية المنوطة بالشباب الفلسطيني بمختلف أطيافه وأماكن تواجده لدعم خضر عدنان في إضرابه.
حين كانت معالي ابنة الأعوام الأربعة تُسأل قبل ثلاث سنوات عن سبب إضراب أبيها، كانت تجيب أنه مضرب لكي يتمكن من رؤيتها ورؤية شقيقتها بيسان، والتواجد بقرب والدتهما الحامل حينها بشقيقهما عبد الرحمن. كبرت معالي اليوم واختلف جوابها: «أبي مضرب كي يحصل على حريته ويدافع عن حقوق الأسرى». غنيٌّ عن القول أنها تستخدم كلمات أكبر من عمرها فالتمتع بـ«طفولة عادية» هو ترف حُرم منه أبناء خضر عدنان الستّة.
حكاية خضر عدنان مع الاعتقالات والملاحقات تعود إلى العام 1999 حين كان طالب رياضيّات في جامعة بيرزيت واعتقل لأول مرة من قبل قوات الاحتلال. تلت هذا الاعتقال اعتقالات عديدة، من بينها اعتقالان على يد أجهزة الأمن التابعة للسلطة الفلسطينية. يدرك خضر ورندة أن الإضراب لن يضمن ألا يتم اعتقال خضر مجدّدًا ولكن على الرغم من خوف العائلة الشديد على سلامة خضر، فهم واثقون بأنه سينجح في انتزاع حريته كما فعل في المرة السابقة.
All she could understand back then was that her father was starving himself to be reunited with her and her sister Bisan — and to be next to their mother when she gave birth to baby Abd al-Rahman.
Adnan was released in April 2012. Three years later, at age 37, he is being held in administrative detention yet again — and has entered his second month of yet another hunger strike.
Maali, now 7 years old, explains that he’s doing it to “demand his freedom and defend the rights of prisoners.” She uses words you wouldn’t normally expect from a young child, but then again “normal life” is a luxury that Maali and her five siblings have never been granted.
Khader Adnan’s experience of persecution and arrests stretches back to 1999, when the then undergraduate mathematics student at Birzeit University was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on charges of affiliation with the Islamic Jihad political party.
It was the first in a series of detentions — amounting to a total of more than six years in Israeli jails — during which Adnan has never been handed any formal charges or been given a trial even by the Israeli military courtswhich are notorious for failing to meet minimum international standards.
Two people who have been with him on this arduous journey are his parents, Adnan Mousa and Nawal.
They live in Arrabeh, near Jenin in the northern West Bank. Khader’s mother, Nawal, used to visit her son in the numerous Israeli prisons where he was held until she lost mobility and could no longer walk.
In 2012, Nawal attended one of his hearings in a wheelchair, but her health has since recently deteriorated and she cannot leave her home.
His father, now 78, goes from one protest to another in support of his son and other political prisoners. The elder accompanies Khader’s wife, Randa, to press conferences and vigils.
When Adnan Mousa told The Electronic Intifada that he was planning to go to Jerusalem for the protest in support of Khader Adnan, which took place on Friday, 5 June, his wife interrupted him.
“But I fear they [Israeli soldiers] would hurt you,” she said. He shrugged it off, insisting that he had nothing to lose.
“Hunger strike as a weapon”
For Randa, her husband Khader’s plight is nothing new.
“He used the hunger strike as a weapon, both in Israeli prisons and in the Palestinian Authority jails where he was arrested twice and on both occasions resorted to hunger strikes,” Randa told The Electronic Intifada.
Adnan’s 66-day hunger strike that began on 18 December 2011 secured his eventual release after it drew considerable popular support and international attention.
It also helped highlight the issue of administrative detention — a relic of British colonial rule continued by Israel, that occupation authorities use to intimidate and grind down Palestinians by holding hundreds without charge or trial. Prisoners are usually sentenced to six months at a time, but their detention can be renewed indefinitely.
In 2012, Amnesty International issued a report detailing the human rights abuses associated with administration detention, which, it said, Israel uses to “suppress the legitimate and peaceful activities of activists in the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Amnesty called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of prisoners held under this policy.
According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, by the end of March, 412 Palestinian administrative detainees were being held in Israeli jails.
Khader Adnan’s initial hunger strike also played a key role in sparking other individual hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners — most notably by Hana al-Shalabi, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab. They were followed by a mass hunger strike that began on 17 April 2012.
Hunger striking as a tactic, however, has gradually lost efficacy to mobilize the wider Palestinian public.
This is partly due to the fact that it was used by individuals when it is often most effective when implemented en masse. Its use has also varied, with most of the long-term hunger strikers going through partial hunger strikes that include only returning some meals at the start and later receiving vitamins and other nutritional supplements, but no solid food.
In Adnan’s case, however, his lawyer and his family have confirmed that he is undertaking a complete hunger strike that started with only water and salt. He has since escalated the strike, refusing anything but water.
Adnan’s father told The Electronic Intifada that Jawad Boulos, head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club’s legal unit, had visited his son on Wednesday. Boulos tried to convince him to end his hunger strike, but Adnan strongly refused, despite drastic weight loss and deterioration in his health.
Currently held in solitary confinement in the Ramle prison clinic after being moved from Israel’s Hadarim prison, Adnan is also refusing treatment by any doctor employed by the Israeli prison authorities.
He insists he will only accept treatment by an independent doctor.
His wife Randa laments the lack of mobilization in support of Khader Adnan although it has been more than 30 days since he began the strike.
“[During] the last time, serious protests on the ground began only after the 45th day of his hunger strike and after he was nearing [danger to his life]. We cannot wait so long this time,” she said.
Adnan’s father believes that one of the factors contributing to the relative silence is fear. Not fear of Israel, however, but of the Palestinian Authority.
“The Palestinian Authority regards my son as a threat because while Khader supports all forms of resistance, the Palestinian Authority supports all forms of normalization,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority were quick to embrace Khader Adnan after his release in April 2012. However, it did not take a long time for him to be marginalized — and even threatened — by the PA.
Adnan’s continuous presence in the frontline of protests, his charisma and the admiration he garnered among Palestinian youth regardless of their political affiliations made him a leader and symbol.
Active and engaging, he regularly visited prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed by the occupation, usually accompanied by Randa. He visited the homes of more than 500 prisoner families and dedicated his life to the cause of the prisoners whether they were affiliated with leftist, Islamist factions or with Fatah, which dominates the PA.
“He returned to his work in the bakery only a week after his release,” Randa recalled. “He would go to the bakery at 2am and get back home at 12pm, but anytime there was a protest at Ofer [prison] or in Ramallah he would leave his work to attend it.”
“Yet during one of the prayers held after the killing of a Palestinian by Israel, he was harassed by Palestinian Authority security forces who tried to kick him out of the mosque. In another instance, he was detained for an hour by Palestinian security forces,” she explained.
Adnan’s father says that not a single PA official had called him to express his support. “We received messages of support from people in Aleppo who are under shelling. We received messages of support from Homs and Yarmouk refugee camp; from Ireland where they know very well what it means to starve for freedom. But we got no word whatsoever from the PA or the ministry of prisoners,” he said.
During the interview, Randa received a call from a prisoner’s mother whose son has been in Israeli occupation jails for 13 years. Such calls mean a lot to the family, as they show how overwhelmingly Adnan is admired.
“Partner in struggle”
“Khader is not just my husband,” Randa said. “He is a partner in struggle. I’ve been with him to protests and together we supported prisoner families. I never considered this a burden or an exhaustion but rather an asset.”
Randa was keen to stress how loving and gentle Adnan is.
“He always helped me look after the children, changing their diapers and doing stuff that some men never consider doing. During my pregnancy with triplets, Khader was the one cleaning the house and making every effort to keep me happy and comfortable,” she said.
While extremely concerned for his well-being, the family is both supportive of Adnan’s decision to go on hunger strike and confident that he will emerge victorious.
“We discussed the issue before he was arrested again in July last year,” his mother said. “I told him, please, if they arrest you again don’t go on hunger strike.’ He remained silent, but gave me a look that pierced my heart like a bullet — as if to ask me to respect his decision and not expect me to deprive him of the only weapon he would have.”
Khader Adnan informed his wife and his father of his plan to go on hunger strike in case Israeli authorities were to renew his administrative detention.
“Khader is not a nihilist,” his father said. “He’s not doing this because he wants to die and because he wants to hurt himself. On the contrary, he’s going through this because he loves life and believes that this is the only way to achieve freedom.”