Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Abu Sakha : Appeal Against Administrative Detention Rejected

By Emma Blanchard - August 31, 2016
Section: [Main News] [Behind Bars]
Tags: [prisoners] [Administrative detention] [Addameer] [birzeit] [palestine circus school]

Inside the Palestinian Circus School of Birzeit, a city in the West Bank near Ramallah, children laugh and somersault, walk on their hands or juggle. But on a table brimming with clubs and diabolos, a sign reads: “Free Abu Sakha” and brings a gloomier note to the cheerful setting.

Mohamed Abu Sakha, a performer and trainer at the Palestinian Circus School, has been detained since his arrest on December 14 2015. Last June, on the 15th, his administrative detention was renewed for another 6 months - to end on 12 December 2016.
According to the Palestinian NGO Addameer, defending Abu Sakha, an appeal against the administrative detention order has been rejected on August 25. It was submitted by Addameer attorney to the military court of appeals in Ofer four days earlier. 
Abu Sakha was arrested at Zaatara checkpoint, south of the city of Nablus, while on his way to work at the Circus in Birzeit. A week later, an Israeli military court sentenced him to six months in Megido-Salem Prison in Israel, without presenting any charges against him.
According to Addameer, Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet claims that the clown has “renewed activity” with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - considered as a terror group by Israel but did not present any evidence.
The renewal of his administrative detention was unexpected : Amnesty International had said that Israeli diplomats had told their office in the Netherlands just a week before that they did not expect his detention to be renewed.
“The occupation forces use the policy of administrative detention when they fail to obtain proper evidence against Palestinians” Addameer says. Addameer is a civil institution offering legal support for Palestinian prisoners. They suggest that the lack of evidence presented in court “confirms that the detainees do not actually pose any kind of threat.”
Administrative detention has often involved isolation and torture, because of the lack of transparency and legal framework. 
Shadi Zmorrod, co-founders of the Circus school, told Palestine Monitor that Abu Sakha was isolated as a punishment for performing headstands and acrobatic tricks with inmates. “Israeli security said that his activities are dangerous for Israel and that his tricks are an attempt to escape illegally. But they are the one detaining him illegally!” explains Ahmad, a friend and colleague.
Abu Sakha had simply tried to organize workshops for basic training and stretching in the detention centre.
Both Ahmad and Shadi worry about the physical and psychological effects that prolonged detention will have on Abu Sakha. “One year is a lot when it has been taken from you for no reason,” Ahmad says. Shadi chimes in : leaving prisoners uncertain of their release dates is cruel.
Abu Sakha first entered the circus out of curiosity in 2007.  Then a teenager but very talented, he decided to help Palestinian children increase their self-esteem and became a trainer in 2011. Shadi says he dedicated his entire life to the Circus and was “fascinated by the science of education for disabled children.” 
Abu Sakha was a busy clown. Besides being a trainer and touring in Palestine and abroad with the quartet Mish Zbata, Abu Sakha created a tailored program to work on creative physical activities for disabled children.
He worked on his own free time with two physically impaired kids. Ahmad says it helped them develop new movements and improve their everyday life. 
As a result of his detention, he was not able to attend a workshop in Germany on Circus training for children with learning difficulties.
For Shadi, "Abu Sakha is a sort of clown miracle with a strong dedication to his art and a sense of touching innocence and sensitivity.”
Despite the absence of one of its leading trainers, the Circus keeps going. Just recently, a group of youth aged 12 to 21 travelled to Turin in Italy to take part in the Mirabilia International Circus and Performing Arts Festival.
For Shadi, Israel “feels threatened by children who laugh, enjoy themselves and escape from the monotony of occupation.”
International campaigns for the release of Abu Sakha are in the making in Italy, London and Tel Aviv. A crowdfunding page has been set up for the International FreeAbuSakha Movement and a postcards campaign.
On July 25, Abu Sakha joined dozens of prisoners in their collective hunger strike for freedom, in solidarity with Bilal Kayed, who is in administrative detention after completing his 14 years and a half jail sentence in the Israeli prisons.

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