SUBJECT: Supporting Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli gaols.
Plus: MAP report underlines impact of Occupation on mental health situation in Palestine, and news of Ahmed Masoud’s new play about life under Occupation
1. In support of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners
As, predictably, there has been meagre coverage of the event in the British media, the Steering Group here shares information about, and expresses its solidarity with, the 1,500 plus Palestinian political prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli gaols since 16th April. They are taking this action to improve prison conditions, to receive better medical care, an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention (imprisonment without charge or trial), and secure increased contact with their families.
This last has been particularly damaging to the mental health of prisoners since family visits are such a source of support and sustenance.
We would like to convey our solidarity and support to the prisoners and their families at this stressful and critical time. It is essential that the Israeli authorities know that the eyes of the world are on them. We consider that the release of all political prisoners is one crucial stepping stone towards the liberation of Palestine.
Two organisations that focus on support for the prisoners:
Link to an interview with human rights lawyer Huwaida Arraf discussing the strike and its wider context: https://vimeo.com/213744329
Marwan Barghouti explains the background and aims of the strike in this piece from the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/opinion/palestinian-hunger-strike-prisoners-call-for-justice.html
A recent update from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/02/hunger-strikes-highlight-isolation-palestinian-prisoners
2. Medical Aid for Palestinians
MAP recently issued a report on health under Occupation, including a chapter devoted to its impact on mental health: https://www.map.org.uk/downloads/map-health-under-occupation-ch3-mental-health-web.pdf
“The chapter demonstrates how half a century of occupation has denied Palestinians this environment. Instead, Palestinians have been exposed to regular and often deadly violence, engendering direct risks of psychological trauma and negative mental health outcomes among the population. The briefing also explores how restrictions on free movement, harassment by Israeli settlers, regular contact with a foreign occupying military force, and demolitions of homes and livelihoods pose constant threats to the mental wellbeing of Palestinians living under occupation.
“The briefing emphasises how the presence of an occupying military force can be particularly damaging to the mental wellbeing of children, particularly those exposed to frequent violent conflict, or arrested and detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Our briefing stresses the legal obligation of Israel, as the occupying power, to respect the right to health of Palestinians. It calls on Governments like the UK to take action to ensure Israel meets this obligation by refraining from actions which undermine the physical and psychological wellbeing of Palestinians, and ensuring accountability for breaches of international law.”
3. ‘Camouflage’, a play by Ahmed Masoud, playing in London Thursday 18th May 7.30pm
Award-winning novelist Ahmed Masoud’s new play is to be staged at Amnesty International’s venue at 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA. Description below. Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2917455
How does one survive under military occupation? How do young people see the situation? Do they try to resist it? Run away? Give up? What do they care about most? Four young Palestinians had the right ideas; they survived through staring danger in the face.
Camouflage is a new, daring play, which looks at the experience of a Palestinian refugee trying to flee the conflict in Syria, a young girl in Ramallah who is in denial of the situation, a boy in Gaza falling in love for the first time and an aspiring actor in Haifa who has to come to terms with the unjust society he lives in.
The play is a dark comedy by acclaimed Palestinian writer Ahmed Masoud, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank – Palestine, looking at the issues that really matter for young people.
Thaer is a thirteen-year-old boy on a boat in the waters between Turkey and Greece, something is troubling him and it is not the fact that he might drown any minute. Nibal is a seventeen-year-old girl finishing her SAT exams in an American-style school in Ramallah. She is not worried about the regular incursions of the Israeli army in town but something bursts the bubble she has been living in. Nineteen-year-old Zeid is a taxi driver in Gaza who falls in love with a girl from Jabalia Refugee camp; he has a competitor who is plotting something. Sami’s dream is to become a famous actor, he has to play a few roles in Haifa in order to build his CV and get known with Israeli established directors.
The one hour play presents a collage of theatrical genres which take the audience on a journey of what it means to live under occupation.