Scottish Cultural figures condemn latest Israel suppression of Palestinian Youth Theatre Group

In the space of little more than a week members of the We Are All Hana Shalabi student delegation from Scotland to Palestine experienced the powerful and moving work of Jenin Freedom Theatre group as they travelled round the West Bank villages in popular resistance in the Freedom Bus initiative and once back home we hear news of this solidarity  statement from the Theatre community in Scotland with the Freedom Theatre.

Scotland’s student movement for Palestine salute this heart-warming call from Scotland’s cultural community and urge everyone to support both the cultural resistance of the Jenin Freedom Theatre and the solidarity work of the Scottish Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre.

A Statement By The Theatre Community of Scotland

It has come to our attention that on June 6, 2012, Nabil Al Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, located in Jenin, on the West Bank in Palestine, was arrested at gunpoint at 3:15am by the Israeli Defense Forces at his home there.  This arrest by masked Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night, and the continuing detention of Mr. Al Raee violates his basic human rights and international law.

Al Raee was held for over two weeks before being allowed counsel and has still not been allowed to see his family. He has not been brought to court or accused of any crime.  

In Israel this arrest would be illegal.  Under international law this arrest and detention is illegal, and it should be
illegal in the Occupied Territory of The West Bank.

Production, Artistic and Administrative staff of The Freedom Theatre have been arrested and detained without charge six times in the last ten months.  

On May 5, The Freedom Theatre co-founder, Zakaria Zubeidi, was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces.  He remains in custody with no clear reason for his arrest and has also not been given access to his family. 

Zubeidi is well known for his determination to eschew armed resistance to the Israeli occupation in favor of cultural resistance.   

In the light of Mr. Zubeidi’s continuing arrests and detentions, and the tragic unsolved murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the late Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, in April of 2011, right in front of the Freedom Theatre, and from  “ARNA’S  CHILDREN” – the documentary feature film produced and directed by Mr. Mer-Khamis – it is  abundantly clear that we all need more Theatre, not less.  

The children of all refugee camps need more Theatre, more Arts activity, not less. The Freedom Theatre stands for and actively engenders, more personal freedom and free expression, not less – in Jenin specifically, and across the world by way of its ongoing courageous, selfless example. 

Nabil Al Raee is an artist, not a criminal, but apparently in the West Bank, being an artist at The Freedom Theatre is now a crime. The IDF, in its continuing harassment of The Freedom Theatre staff, has taken a man into custody who has chosen to resist through purely artistic means.  We believe that Mr. Al Raee is being targeted in an effort to intimidate and harass The Freedom Theatre, due to its vital work in serving and empowering refugee youth and its artistic expression of political and personal viewpoints.

The Theatre community in the Scotland is intensely concerned about this matter.
 
We denounce these arrests and detentions. We demand the immediate release of Nabil Al Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi.  If they continue to remain incarcerated, we demand that they be afforded proper legal protections 
due to any person under the law: including public hearings where the reasons for their arrests are made public, continuing access to counsel, immediate access to their families, and humane conditions during their detention.
 
For any nation or society that claims to be a parliamentary democracy, where the rule of law presides over public life, it is necessary that all persons be protected by due process and from unlawful arrest, torture or abuse, including 
arbitrary imprisonment by the military. For any such nation or society to thrive, artists must be free to express themselves.  

In human and artistic solidarity with a fellow Artist, we ask that the Israeli and Palestinian authorities reconsider their positions immediately and begin to engage in actions that demonstrate respect for the Arts and all peoples’ basic human rights.

Scottish Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre

Mary McCluskey – Artistic Director, Scottish Youth Theatre

Paul Laverty – Screenwriter, THE ANGELS’ SHARE, AE FOND KISS, etc.

David Grieg – Playwright

Dave Anderson – Actor/Director/Songwriter

Aonghas Macneacail – Poet/Songwriter

Dr. David Archibald
School of Culture and Creative Arts
University of Glasgow

Liz Lochead – Makar / Poet Laureate of Scotland

Mary McCluskey – Artistic Director, Scottish Youth Theatre

Paul Laverty – Screenwriter, THE ANGELS’ SHARE, AE FOND KISS, etc.

David Grieg – Playwright

David Harrower – Playwright

Dave Anderson – Actor/Writer/Director/Songwriter

Aonghas Macneacail – Poet/Songwriter

Gerda Stevenson – Actor/Writer/Director

Brian Ferguson

Henry Bell

Henry King

Dr. David Archibald
School of Culture and Creative Arts
University of Glasgow

Francis McKee – Centre For Contemporary Arts, Glasgow

Pauline Goldsmith -  Actress/Director

Paul Birchard – Actor/Director

Tam Dean Burn – Actor Director

Mandy Sykes – Actor

William Letford – Poet

Euan Sutherland – Visual Artist

Jay Benedict – Actor/Director

Mark Mackie – Regular Music

Karen Douglas – Artistic Director, SpartakI Theatre Co.

Please visit these links for more information:

Jenin Freedom Theatre: http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/

Freedom Bus: http://www.freedombus.ps/

Friends of the Freedom Theatre (US): http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/new-yorks-friends-of-the-jenin-freedom-theatre/

Anyone wanting information or who wants to get involved in the Scottish Friends for Jenin Freedom Theatre please contact us by email: weareallhanashalabi@gmail.com

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Scotland's student movement for Palestine

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