Nabil Al-Raee, Art Director for the Freedom Theatre declares hunger strike

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AIC | 9 Juillet 2012 |

Nabil Al-Raee, Art Director for The Freedom Theatre in Jenin declared an open hunger strike in protest against his arrest. Al-Raee was accused in an Israeli military court of possessing firearms and assisting a wanted fugitive.

Al-Raee is accused of assisting Zakaria Zubeidi, the Director of the Theatre, by driving him in his car and providing him food and cigarettes. Zubeidi, a former leader of Fatah military forces in Jenin, was granted amnesty by the Israeli authorities several years ago.

In response to the accusations, Nabil Al-Raee declared that he is starting a hunger strike as of July 6. "I don’t understand why I’m here,” said Al-Raee.

Al-Raee was arrested by the Israeli army on June 6th at 3 am in his house. For two weeks he was not allowed to communicate with his lawyer or have any contact with his family. Initially, he was accused of withholding information that could lead to the identification of Juliano Mer Khamis’ murderer. Later, in a court hearing, the military accused him of being involved in "terror activities."

In the most recent court hearing, the military judge declared that no evidence of any illegal activity had been established during the nearly one month long set of interrogations he endured and that Al-Raee should consequently be released. However, the prosecution was given a 48 hour period to appeal and put forward a third accusation.

Micaela Miranda, Nabil’s wife, said after the court hearing : "This farce started with them accusing Nabil of somehow being involved in the murder of Juliano, then they accused him of terror activities and now it’s something else. Every court hearing we go to there’s always another accusation. It’s ridiculous and it’s obvious that they are trying to find a justification for keeping Nabil incarcerated for so long."

Smadar Ben-Natan, Nabil’s lawyer, said : "This shows that they really don’t have anything to hold against him. If these are crimes, then it means that everybody in Jenin camp is guilty of them. I hope that the judge in the next court hearing will understand this and that they will release him."

The Freedom Theatre Foundation in Sweden and The Freedom Theatre Association in Jenin, along with its affiliates in the USA, France, Italy, Scotland and Germany, all rebuke these accusations as pure fabrications and claim that it is just another scheme of the Israeli occupying force’s attempt to destroy The Freedom Theatre entirely.

"Maybe they thought we would break down when Juliano Mer Khamis was assassinated, but we kept on and now they are trying to suffocate us slowly by harassing our employees, members, and supporters with various accusations, one more absurd than the other. This systematic harassment has gone on for a year already." says Jonatan Stanczak, the Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre.
Distinguished public figures such as Danny Glover, Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler along with almost 200 other people from the artistic community in the USA have called for the immediate release of Nabil Al-Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi in a statement published in TimeOut magazine in New York. Artistic communities in Germany, the UK, and elsewhere have made similar calls and thousands of individuals from all over the word have signed petitions and made complaints to Israeli and Palestinian representative bodies.