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.

Sincerely,

Artists Against Apartheid
Theatre of the Oppressed Laboratory
SALAAM Theatre
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

11 Responses to “Stand in Solidarity with Freedom Theatre and Against Israeli Apartheid”

  1. Brian Belcinski - August 17, 2011

    I worked at the Freedom Theater in March of 2010. My time there was some of the most important of my life. The work they do is revolutionary. I became very close with Juliano, and the acting students there. Rami is a dear friend. I find the actions of the Israeli regime unacceptable, and am in full support of a cultural boycott against it’s apartheid government.

  2. Sabina England - August 17, 2011

    I co-sign as a theatre artist and playwright.

    Boycott Israel and demand for U.N to implement Resolution 194.. now!

  3. Formaat, workpace of Participatory Drama - August 17, 2011

    We are in solidarity with the goals and the work of the Freedom Theatre. We underline the above statement done by collegues. 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.

    Artistic Director & CEO
    Luc Opdebeeck

    Rotterdam, Netherlands

  4. ImaginAction - August 17, 2011

    We at ImaginAction are in solidarity with the powerful work of the Freedom Theatre. We add our voice in asking Israel’s apartheid government to explain its actions of the raid on Freedom Theatre. We also call for the immediate release of Adnan Naghnaghiye, Bilal Al-Saadi and Rami Awni Hwayel from Israeli custody.

    Hector Aristizabal
    Artistic Director

  5. Doug Paterson - August 18, 2011

    Israel has long since worn out its welcome in the region. As a predatory fascist state, we can expect nothing from it except violence, oppression, and the relentless advancement of its supremacies. Israel needs to free ALL political prisoners, dismantle the Apartheid wall, create one secular state, and stop being the pariah of the world.

  6. Tam Dean Burn - August 21, 2011

    I met Juliano when he came to Scotland in June 2006 and he became a great hero of mine. To witness his commitment to the power and capabilities of theatre in the struggle for liberation has been such a source of inspiration. His death shocked me greatly. On his birthday, May 29, at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, after a showing of his wonderful film, Arna’s Children, there was agreement to establish a Scottish Friends Of Freedom Theatre, an organisation long overdue but more vital than ever with the shocking but predictable behaviour of the Israeli security forces towards Freedom Theatre and it’s staff. FREE THE FREEDOM THEATRE 3 NOW!

  7. Jean Cameron - August 21, 2011

    Scottish arts professionals are in solidarity with our colleagues at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin.

    FREE THE FREEDOM THEATRE 3 NOW!

  8. Mary Ann DeVlieg - August 23, 2011

    The Israeli Army and government must be required to explain their heavy harrassment of the Freedom Theatre and illegal arrests of its members, on the specious grounds that theatre members may have been involved in Juliano’s assassination. It is pretty obvious they are looking for a scapegoat: members and staff of the theatre had enormously fewer motives than others in the area, including the Israeli Army itself. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/mer-khamis-and-binational-resistance-movement-1.354358

  9. Lisa Lindstrom - August 24, 2011

    Art builds bridges and constructs paths to peace. Shame on those who look to stand in the way!

  10. kothapalli ravibabu - August 15, 2014

    a true writer or artiste should show solidarity to the depressed and oppressed classes of society wherever they are in the world. it is a sorry state of affairs that the natives are driven out from their native land and some others are placed there. the occupiers are bent on occupying the whole of Palestine and make it disapear in the world map. What a pitiable condition which all the so called great countries are supporting this kind of aggression for their own sake.

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