Stand in Solidarity with Freedom Theatre and Against Israeli Apartheid
UPDATE from Friends of Freedom Theatre: “We are relieved to report to you that as of this moment, all persons associated with The Freedom Theatre in Jenin have now been freed from detention. As you may remember, two middle-of-the night raids by the Israeli military on the Theatre in July and August damaged it and the home of one of the staff, terrorized family members and neighbors and resulted in four arrests.
Despite spending up to a month in jail, none of the four arrested men was charged with anything remotely resembling a serious crime of any sort…”
Artists Against Apartheid and we the undersigned stand in solidarity with our colleagues at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, who face both extreme repression by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), and cultural friction to their avant-garde productions, in the process of presenting their art. Members of the Theatre have been recently abducted during IOF raids, and are being held in Jalame prison, located inside of Israel’s internationally recognized borders.
The Freedom Theatre – a theatre and cultural center in Jenin Refugee Camp – is developing the only professional venue for theatre and multimedia in the north of the West Bank in Occupied Palestine. Since it opened its doors in 2006, the organization has continued to grow, develop and expand, enabling the young generation in the area to develop new and important skills which will allow them to build a better future for themselves and for their society. Despite IOF raids and the recent assassination of one of its founders, Juliano Mer Khamis, the Freedom Theatre persists in staging works.
On July 27 2011, the Israeli Special Forces launched a raid on the Freedom Theatre. According to reports, an estimated fifty Israeli soldiers or more surrounded Jenin refugee camp in the middle of night. Soldiers came masked and heavily armed. Heavy blocks of stone were hurled at the entrance, causing damage. Witnesses at the scene were physically intimidated by soldiers; one night guard/technician student recounted being forcibly told to drop his pants, and his brother being handcuffed.
Two Palestinians involved with the theatre, Bilal Al-Saadi, Chairperson of the board for Freedom Theatre, along with the head technician, Adnan Naghnaghiye, were arrested by Israeli soldiers and taken away. No warrant or explanations were given for their arrests.
On August 6, 2011, a third Palestinian, Rami Awni Hwayel, a third year graduating acting student, was arrested by the IOF at Shave Shomeron checkpoint, immediately handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away in an army jeep. He was on his way to Jenin from Ramallah to rehearse for an upcoming production of Waiting for Godot, directed by an Israeli American theatre artist.
As of today, Bilal, Adnan, and Rami are reported to be held in Jalame prison, inside of Israel; there is still no explanation for their arrests. The IOF have refused to comment on the raid, even going so far as to deny the raid took place. A gag order has been placed on the reporting of Ramis’ arrest in the Israeli press.
While we condemn this violence against a Palestinian cultural institution, we will not sit idly awaiting justice. We call on others to join us in the Cultural Boycott of Israel, and as in the case of South African apartheid, to apply international pressure to bring about a situation of freedom and equality. We will boycott all events sponsored by the State of Israel, and reject partnership with any Israeli theatre companies which do not take a clear and proactive stance against the colonial oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel, and its system of apartheid.
We stand with members of the Freedom Theatre, supporting their universal human rights and freedom of expression to produce any works they see fit to present in Jenin.
We call upon Israel’s apartheid government to explain its actions of the raid on Freedom Theatre and to release Adnan Naghnaghiye, Bilal Al-Saadi and Rami Awni Hwayel from Israeli custody.
Artists Against Apartheid
Theatre of the Oppressed Laboratory
The New Theatre (Ireland)
Ariel Burke, Actor (Raleigh, NC)
John P. Falcone, Ph.D Student (Theology & Education) at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Reg Flowers, Falconworks Artists Group
Roger Michell – Theatre and Film Director (UK)
Sam West – Actor and Director(UK)
Ronan Wilmot (Ireland)
Sabina England, Theatre Artist, Playwright
George Eugeniou (of Theatro Technis, Camden Town)
Naomi Foyle, Poet, Librettist, and Co-ordinator of British Writers in Support of Palestine
Michal Leman-Lemansk, freelance theatre producer (Ireland)
Roger Michell – Theatre and Film Director
Jimmy Murphy, Playwright (Ireland)
Sam West – Actor and Director
Punks Against Apartheid
Adalah-NY, The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel