Palestinian student Mays Abu Ghosh speaks out on Israeli abuse and torture under interrogation

Mays Abu Ghosh. Source: Quds News

Palestinian journalism student Mays Abu Ghosh spoke with lawyers from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, discussing her torture and mistreatment under interrogation for over 30 days. A student at Bir Zeit University from Qalandiya refugee camp, Mays Abu Ghosh, 22, is a writer and student activist who has worked to publicize the struggles of Palestinian political prisoners and Palestinian refugees.

Mays Abu Ghosh seized by Israeli occupation forces

In her statement to the lawyers, Abu Ghosh recalled that she was seized by Israeli occupation forces in a violent raid on 29 August 2019, when the armed soldiers removed the door of her family home and invaded it, ransacking her and her family’s belongings, blindfolding and cuffing her and then taking her to an occupation military camp near Qalandiya checkpoint. While she was held there, the soldiers dragged her violently as she was handcuffed and blindfolded while cursing at her and screaming in her face.

Later, Mays was transferred to the Moskobiyeh interrogation center. She was strip-searched and then transferred to the interrogation cells. She recalled that her interrogations lasted for many hours at a time while she was shackled to a small chair inside a very cold cell. After six days, the “military interrogation” began with her, which included the use of stress positions like the “banana” and “squatting” or the “false chair” for long periods of time, in an attempt to coerce a false confession from her.

Illustration of the “banana” position. Source: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

She was slapped, beaten and deprived of sleep. This “military interrogation” continued for three days, during which all of these torture tactics continued. Abu Ghosh said that at one time, she tried to escape from the interrogators and sit in one of the corners of the cell, but the interrogator began slamming her head against the wall, kicking her while yelling obscenities. Next, interrogators deliberately brought her brother and her parents in an attempt to coerce her into confessing by threatening to detain them. Her 17-year-old brother was later ordered to administrative detention, without charge or trial, despite being a minor.

Mays said that the interrogation cells have extremely harsh conditions, lacking the basic elements for human life. The walls are concrete and rough, the mattress is thin, without a cover or a pillow, and the lights are kept on 24/7 even as loud sounds constantly disturb the prisoners. She also noted that the meals provided were very poor and that wastewater would enter her cell and flow onto the mattress.

Images of Shatha Hassan and Mays Abu Ghosh at the march in Ramallah in support of Ahmad Zahran, on hunger strike for 99 days. Photo: Quds News

She said that at one time, a large rat entered her cell, which she believes was intentionally entered by the interrogators in order to further torment her. They repeatedly delayed in responding to the simplest requests, for example to access the bathroom, and was repeatedly provoked and ridiculed. After 30 days of this treatment under interrogation, she was transferred to the Damon prison, where she remains today, with her fellow Palestinian women prisoners. She is charged in the Israeli military courts – which convict over 99% of Palestinian detainees – with involvement in student activities on the Bir Zeit University campus. Her brother’s administrative detention has been renewed again and he continues to be jailed without charge or trial.

Mays’ family earlier spoke about their experience in being brought to see her under interrogation, noting that the signs of torture were visible on her face and body. “Her face was full of bruises and her body is very pale. I could not hug her due to the pain hurting all of her body,” said her mother. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association convened a press conference on 23 December highlighting the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, including Abu Ghosh.

Palestinian imprisoned student Mays Abu Ghosh supports freedom for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah

Mays Abu Ghosh and Samah Jaradat are two of many Palestinian students who are being targeted by the Israeli occupation for arrest and imprisonment for their involvement in student activities on campus. Shatha Hassan, chair of the Bir Zeit University student council board, has been ordered to four months of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. There are hundreds of Palestinian university students held in Israeli jails, including approximately 80 from Bir Zeit alone.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible action and mobilization to support Mays Abu Ghosh and Palestinian students jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge students around the world to hold events, vigils and informational actions to highlight the struggle of Palestinian students under occupation and all people of conscience to develop the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Freedom for Mays Abu Ghosh and all Palestinian students! 

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