Freedom Theatre Artistic Director on hunger strike in Israeli prison

Press Release from The Freedom Theatre, Jenin, Occupied Palestine, July 5th, 2012

Today Nabil Al-Raee, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre was accused in an Israeli military court of possessing guns, helping a wanted person (Zakaria Zubeidi) as well as three other wanted but unnamed persons. The help Nabil is accused of rendering Zakaria – who years ago was granted amnesty by the Israeli authorities – is that he has driven him in his car and given him food and cigarettes. In response to these accusations Nabil declared that he is starting a hunger strike from tomorrow. “I don’t understand why I’m here [in detention]. There is no reason for them to keep me here”. Nabil’s lawyer says: “This shows that that they are desperate, they have nothing to hold against him.”

Nabil was taken by the Israeli army on June 6th at 03:00 in the night from his house in front of his family. For two weeks he was not allowed to communicate with his lawyer or have any contact with his family. Nor were any charges made against him. Once suspicions were eventually put forward, Nabil was first suspected of keeping information that could lead to the identification of Juliano Mer Khamis’ murderer. In a later court hearing the Israeli prosecution claimed that Nabil was involved in “terror activities”. Then in a recent court hearing the military judge declared that no evidence of any illegal activity had come up during the almost one month of interrogations and that Nabil would be released. However the prosecution was given a 48 hour period to appeal and put forward this third, equally absurd accusation against Nabil.

Micaela Miranda, Nabil’s wife, attended the court hearing today: “This farce started with them accusing Nabil of being involved somehow in the murder of Juliano, then they accused him of terror activities and now it’s something else. Every court hearing we go to there’s another accusation, it’s ridiculous and it’s obvious that they are trying to find a justification for having kept Nabil incarcerated for so long.”

Smadar Ben-Natan, Nabil’s lawyer, says: “This shows that they really don’t have anything to hold against him. If these are crimes then it means that everybody in Jenin camp are guilty of them. I hope that the judge in the next court hearing will understand this and that they will release him.”

The Freedom Theatre Foundation in Sweden and The Freedom Theatre association in Jenin with its friends associations in USA, France, Italy, Scotland and Germany rebuke these accusations as pure fabrications that are part of the Israeli occupying force’s attempt to destroy The Freedom Theatre entirely.

“Maybe they thought we would break down when Juliano Mer Khamis was assassinated, but we kept on and now they are trying to suffocate us slowly but surely by harassing our employees, members and supporters with various accusations, one more absurd than the other. This systematic harassment has gone on for a year now, it’s enough!” says Jonatan Stanczak, the Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre.

Distinguished public figures such as Danny Glover, Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler along with almost 200 other people from the artistic community in the USA have called for the immediate release of Nabil and Zakaria in a statement in TimeOut magazine in New York. Artistic communities in Germany, the UK and elsewhere have made similar calls and thousands of individuals from all over the word have signed petitions and made complaints to Israeli and Palestinian representative bodies. A few weeks ago 56 members of the European Parliament signed a letter urging Catherine Ashton to take action and 19 members of the Portuguese parliament, from all political parties except the extreme right, called for Nabil’s release.

For more information, please see previous Press Release here: