Israel: Another 30 days in prison
(24.10.2021) I just spent my 19th birthday behind bars and I’ve already served two prison sentences and spent 28 days in jail. Last Thursday I was tried again and sentenced to another 30 days in prison. I will continue facing recurring incarcerations for my refusal to cooperate with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
I am writing today from home because in the military prison we are not allowed to write. I am a person who writes down her thoughts and I scribble drawings when I try to focus. I write down tasks and ideas and I use empty pages to crystalize my thought process. When I arrived at the military prison for the first time I brought with me a pencil case, but it was taken away from me and I was informed by the prison guards who searched my belongings that I cannot keep any writing tools and can only write at specific times a day with pens provided by the prison authorities.
Over time I realized that the specific hours considered proper for writing are very much dependent on the guards’ whims. Some days I could only get a pen for 10 minutes; on Saturdays or holidays you don’t get a pen at all. Privacy is a luxury I don’t get to have as a prisoner and I was not allowed to write anything without the rest of the inmates, guards and commanders getting to see what I’m writing. By the end of my prison sentence I returned home with all my notebooks completely empty.
In prison, writing is in itself a form of activism. We can use it to share our message about our choice to refuse as a form of resistance to the occupation. By depriving me of the option to write in prison, the prison authorities hindered my ability to document what goes on behind bars, write articles and develop ideas and plan on how to share my experiences once I am released for a few days. The military does not want me to write, speak or share my thoughts. They are trying to silence me.
The silencing of political refusers is a small part of a more violent pattern of behavior - The silencing of the Palestinian struggle for human rights in the West Bank and Gaza. The arrests of Palestinians that speak and act against the Israeli violent military actions and the violent oppressions by the military of Palestinian peaceful protests are just two emblematic examples of a broad policy aimed at suppressing any speaking, acting, criticizing or objecting on the part of Palestinians.
And so, it is not surprising that after striving daily to hide the truth about the occupation and to silence those who are hurt by it, the next step is to silence those of us who oppose it. But it is this silencing, this attempt to erase, hide and deny what is really happening, that makes me stand proud and declare my refusal publicly. Despite not being able to write about any of this from prison I’m happy to be able to share my message now, even if it is from home.
In solidarity, Shahar
Shahar Perets: Another 30 days in prison. October 24, 2021