Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Latte Abdallah

Rabiah, a Palestinian political prisoner in Israel said: “We made prison a place to studying and learning.  We offered courses to one another and prepared the younger prisoners to passing their high school final exams.  We instituted a journal to publish our opinions and experiences.  Our rooms were always neat and in order.  We kept the kitchen clean and hygiene was impeccable among us. We were very organized.  The Israeli female prison guards were very upset with our orderly behaviors and purposely introduced a few Israeli common criminals (drug addicts and prostitutes) among us to spread havoc. Ten years of direct contact with the guards in the prison of Neve Tirtzah in Ramleh changed the prejudices of the guards.  We were no longer what the system described us as “killers of kids and under-developed specie” but educated and instructed nationalist women political prisoners.”

Rasmiyyeh declared: “We implemented several hunger strikes in order to receiving paper, pen, books and dailies on the ground that we are a threat to Israel security. In 1971, the prison system allowed a few of learning materials in at the instigation of the International Red Cross.  Scientific and political manuscripts were banned to get in.  The prison system would haphazardly change decisions and restrict entrance and access of learning materials.”

Aicha O recounted in 2004 the terrible interrogation procedures and successive rapes she had to suffer; her article circulated in 30 dailies and magazines.  Rasmiyyeh had testified to the same atrocities in 1981. Halam testified: “I was arrested in 1979 at the age of 15.  I was very active politically.  The Israeli forces wanted me to divulge names of organizations (tanzim) and activists. I refused and they broke my nose on a wall.  Several surgeries were needed to fix the damaged nose.  They also smashed my teeth and never resigned.  When I look in the mirror, my nose and broken teeth are like Star medals on General outfits.”

Aicha O wrote: “You cannot let prison out of your system: It is part of your life.  Life in prison impose your behaviors in the outside world.  You feel that you never left prison, but you are carrying this heavy burden.  I have paid dearly the price of being incarcerated on the personal level.  After I was let out, my relationship with my husband changed.  Torture rendered me an “abnormal” individual.  When I was exiled to Jordan, I felt liberated from “men” who interrogated me and tortured me.  The new me prevented me from becoming a mother.

I never imagined or considered getting remarried.  Since I have two martyrs in my family (my cousin who live with us and was killed cold-blooded, and my father).  My father had been incarcerated when I was 8 years of age and I used to visit him and cry profusely; he was exiled to Jordan and died in Lebanon.  Thus, as the eldest, I had to take care of the family of brothers and sisters after mother remarried. My brother was killed in the house:  He was 25 and his wife was pregnant.”

Rawda was incarcerated for 8 years (1977-1985).  She said: “After I was released in prisoners exchange, I had no inkling of remarrying.  My previous fiance refused to visit me in prison and we broke the deal. I got engaged socially and spoke out in meetings and conferences.   I am Christian, and there was this Moslem guy who experience the prison system for 15 years.  One evening he told me: “We, graduating from prison, we cannot raise a family with normal women.  You too, cannot marry a “normal” man.”  We had hard time overcoming social stigma on religious ground but we finally got married.””

In 1999, Israel Supreme Court limited tortures to the psychological pressures such as “allowing a prisoner to believing that a bomb will explode soon unless he confesses, or that his family members and mother will be present to witnessing his rape, or that the entire rape excercise will be filmed and shown to the Palestinian community…”  Israel Supreme Court came under heavy pressures from Palestinian NGO, International Red Cross organization, International Commission of jurists, Amnesty International, and Israel’s B”Tselem organization.  Practically, it was mainly for foreign consumption.  In any case, the Israel Supreme Court care less to investigate and control the particular laws instituted by the “Israeli prison service”. 

Men prisoners are not as frank as women prisoners explaining the details of sexual violence committed on them.  Younger women prisoners are not as vocal as older and divorced women prisoners.  The “hard-core” women prisoners do not relegate honor to second order for the land:  It is their bloodied bodies that in fact symbolize respectability, loyalty, and militants for the “fatherland”.

The Palestinian society overcame the historical stigmata of women submitting to the humiliations in the prison system.  Women prisoners have regained their status of hero after their bold stories on rape and bodily tortures and speaking out boldly in meeting and conferences.

Palestinians with Israeli nationality have it twice harder in prison.  Since they are considered Israelis they cannot be swapped during prisoners exchange. As Palestinians, they are treated as internal enemies.

Between 1987 and 1991, 80, 000 Palestinians were rounded up for collecting intelligence.  It is  a normal practice of administratively detaining mothers and sisters simply for gathering information. After the second Palestinan”intifada” in 2000, more than a third of the Palestinians passed through the Israeli prison service  and 40% for young men.  Currently, there are over 20,000 political Palestinian prisoners; over 15% are kids less than 14 of age.

Note 1:  This abridged account was taken from an article by Stephanie Latte Abdallah and published in the French periodical  “The social movement” (April-June 2010). Stephanie is a historian and political scientist at the research center CNRS at Aix-en-Provence.

Note 2:  Many Palestinian families fled their villages in 1948 after the terrorist Israeli militias and official army systematically raped girls in front of the community.




June 2023

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