Friday, July 13, 2012

One man freed on bail, one man still in jail. Authorities feel threatened by Freedom Theatre

NABIL AL RAEE released , but tagged and under house arrest. Seen here with daughter Mina on her first birthday.

ZAKARIA ZUBEIDI still detained without charges at Jericho prison.

First the good news. Nabil Al-Raee, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, has been freed from Israeli military detention, after starting a hunger strike. Nabil had been held for over a month, having been taken from his home in the early hours of the morning by the Israeli military.

After putting it around that they were questioning Nabil about the murder last year of Freedom Theatre co-founder Juliano Mer-Khamis, - a subject on which he would have willingly told everything he knew without needing to be arrested - the Israeli authorities held him without charges, and without access to lawyer or family. Having failed to produce any evidence of "illegal activity" even to convince a military judge, they eventually came up with a charge of assisting a "terrorist", that is supplying food and cigarettes to Freedom Theatre co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi.

Zakaria Zubeidi is a respected figure in Jenin, as well as a colleague, and Nabil remarked that he had only helped him as any local person would. A former commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade who fought the Israeli occupiers and also criticised Palestinian leaders, Zakaria Zubeidi accepted an amnesty from the Israelis in 2005, handing over his guns to the Palestinian Authority(PA), and joining Juliano Mer-Khamis in founding the theatre, to develop cultural resistance.

β€œThe theatre is an important project,” said Zubeidi. β€œ It can bring the children together under one roof, give them the possibility to dream, develop them and lighten their psychological burden.”

He did not abandon his aim of liberation, but placed no faith in the Palestinian leadership, accusing them of selfishness and corruption, and saying that a new generation would have to come forward. Nor did Israeli politicians give up their calls for Zubeidi to dealt with as a terrorist.

On December 29, 2011, Israel rescinded Zubeidi's pardon for unstated reasons. Zubeidi stated to Ma'an News Agency that he had not violated any of the conditions of his amnesty. He was advised by PA security officials to turn himself in to Palestinian custody lest he arrested by Israel's security forces. A week before Zubeidi was notified about the cancellation of his amnesty, his brother had been arrested by the PA.

Now Zakaria Zubeidi remains in Palestinian Authority custody, having been held without charge and kept in prison at Jericho since May 13.

Nabil Al Raee is not genuinely free either, despite petitions from international artists, a resolution from the European parliament, and his own hunger strike. He has only been released on bail, and must remain under house arrest wearing an electronic foot chain until his next trial at the end of the month.

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