“Purim Protest” at Ofer Prison: Free Palestinian Artist Abu Sakha

Towards the Jewish Festival of Purim this Thursday, an Adloyada (Purim Carnival) Protest demanding the immediate release of Palestinian circus artist Mohammed Abu Sakha was held on Monday, March 21, outside the Ofer Detention Center on the outskirts of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. The 23-year-old Abu Sakha has been incarcerated by the Israeli military for the past three months under an administrative detention order, without trial, and has been allowed no contact with his family since late last year. No charges have been brought against Abu Sakha and, as is typical for administrative detainees, the authorities refuse to give a reason for his detention. Three months ago he was arrested on his way to work at the Palestinian Circus School where he teaches children with learning difficulties. He is being denied the right to defend himself.

"Free Mohammed Abu Sakha"

“Free Mohammed Abu Sakha” (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Israeli peace and human rights activists, dressed in colorful Purim costumes and masks, met at 10.00 am in the parking lot near the detention center and held their protest. In Jewish tradition, Purim is celebrated as a holiday commemorating sudden changes of fortune, with righteous people being suddenly redeemed from great misfortune and danger. According to protesters “This seems a good time to call for the release of an unjustly held detainee. And the detained Abu Sakha being a circus artist and clown, well known for his artistic talent, it is especially fitting to remember him on a holiday which is celebrated by masks and costumes and public performances of clowns and circus artists on the streets of Israeli cities.”

Human rights activist Hanita Hendelman, an organizer in the campaign for the release of Abu Sakha, said: “Earlier this month we already held a circus protest of this kind near the Megiddo Prison, where he [Abu Sakha] is being held. We conducted an improvised circus performance in the prison’s parking lot. It was amusing when the Israeli circus performers who demonstrated with us tossed hoops back and forth over the heads of the prison guards. This time we’re going to do the same thing at the Ofer Detention Center, the focal point from where the State of Israel sends hundreds of Palestinians to detention and imprisonment for having resisted the occupation.” Hendelman, who lives in Kiryat Tivon in the north of Israel has been involved many years with the Kfar Yehoshua Circus School, where she coordinates multicultural projects aimed at bringing Jews and Arabs together through the study and practice of circus art.


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