Damian Clarke's Update From Palestine (5)
Damian Clarke is a 31 year old from Miramar in Wellington, NZ and is currently in Palestine under training with the International Solidarity Movement - a group of internationalists campaigning for peace in the Middle East. Damian is writing to Scoop regularly about his experiences.
Kia ora from Palestine
Yesterday I had the honour of speaking to Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of Marwan Barghouthi. I met her at the solidarity tent in Sawiya. The tent is set up to show solidarity with the prison hunger strikers. Fadwa is a lawyer. After she had addressed the people gathered there we were shown to a smaller tent where we met her.
I learned from Fadwa that her husband is still being held in solitary confinement in a cell about three meters squared in area. He has been held for more than two years now and Fadwa hasn't been able to see him in that time.
Marwan Barghouthi has a long history of political activity. He was elected to the student council at Bizreit University in Ramallah three times. He was elected a Fateh leader in 1994 and in 1996 was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. I asked Fadwa why her husband had been imprisoned. Apparently it had something to do with him being a leader of Fateh. Marwan Barghouthi was held responsible by the courts for breaches of security while he was a leader of Fateh (Yasser Arafats party). He has been sentenced to five life sentences and another forty years on top of that.
To me it seems likely that the real reason behind Marwan Barghouthi's incarceration is because he is a highly articulate and very popular politician. In court he defended himself in Arabic, Hebrew and English. It is interesting that Israel chose to imprison him rather than Yasser Arafat. Israel refuses to negotiate with Yasser Arafat and the United States won't recognize Yasser Arafat as a negotiating partner, yet Israel keeps him trapped behind the high concrete walls of his compound in Ramallah and ensures that his leadership is both ineffective and perpetuated.
I also learned that while Marwan Barghouthi has been in prison the general head of the "Peres Centre for Peace" had sent an open letter to him which recognized Marwan Barghouthi as a negotiating partner. When news of this reached Ariel Sharon he asked Shimon Peres to punish the head of the peace centre. Ariel Sharon has some responsibility for the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla in Lebanon in 1982. Ariel Sharon has never faced trial for his many crimes despite some efforts to try him in an international court.
Marwan Barghouthi's eldest son used to study at the AOC in Cairo. That was until nine months ago when he was returning home for Christmas and was arrested at the border. Fadwa now has her husband and a child in prison. Fadwa believes that her husband is "a hero for peace and a hero for the intifada".
In Marda we haven't had sound bombs for the last three nights. The army came and took a 16 year old boy from the streets a couple of days ago. They tied his wrists tightly, and put a bag over his head. He was forced to sit with his head between his legs in the back of the jeep. They took him to the settlement (Ariel) for interrogation. This boy was only held for about an hour. Long enough to give him welts on his wrists. That's a quiet day in Marda. I've discovered something worse than sound bombs anyway- try telling a teenage girl that there's nothing you can do for her brother who has been detained without charge for five days.
I made an error in my last update. I wrote "Rabbis Against the Occupation" when I should have written "Rabbis for Human Rights". I apologize for any confusion that may have resulted.