Friday, August 17, 2018

AHED TAMIMI: "I am a freedom fighter"

Dear friends,
apologies for the delay in posting about the release of my good friend Nariman Tamimi and her daughter Ahed Tamimi.  As you will be aware, both Nariman and Ahed were arrested in December after video footage shot by Nariman of Ahed slapping an Israeli solider who had invaded the yard in front of their home.  Nariman, along with Ahed and her cousin Nour were arrested.  Nour was released after 16 days but Nariman and Ahed have spent the last 8 months in Israel's jails as political prisoners.

Since her arrest Ahed has become very much the face of the Palestinian resistance.  Not only is she a child political prisoner, her courage and defiance in the face of Israel's military occupation have helped shine a light - once again - on not only Israel's apartheid laws but its ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.
Please find below copies of both Al Jazeera & the Guardian's articles on Ahed and Nariman's release.

In solidarity, Kim



Tamimi was arrested after a video of her slapping and hitting two Israeli soldiers went viral.

Nabi Saleh, occupied West Bank - Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi, whose eight-month sentence for slapping and hitting Israeli soldiers sparked international condemnation, has been released from Israeli prison .

Tamimi broke down in tears as an emotional crowd welcomed her in the village of Nabi Saleh on Sunday. 
She was released with her mother, Nariman, who was also sentenced to eight months but, like her daughter, served three weeks short of that in line with remission policy. 

Addressing the crowd, Tamimi thanked activists and the media for their support during her prison stay. She said she was "extremely happy" to be "in the arms and embrace of my family" but added that her "happiness is not full" when others are still behind Israeli bars.

"My happiness is not complete without my sisters [Palestinian female prisoners], who are not with me. I hope that they will also be free," she said.

'Leave occupation'

The 17-year-old also relayed messages delivered to her by Palestinian female political prisoners, saying that they "call for national unity inside Palestine; for the people of Palestine to remain strong and united in their resistance; and for everyone to stand with the rights of political prisoners and work for their release".

Tamimi said she was planning to pursue a career in law in order to "hold the occupation accountable".

"In the end I want to say that the power is with the people, and the people will and can decide their destiny and decide the future. Women are a key part of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and the women’s role will continue to expand, not only in the struggle but by producing new generations that can continue the struggle. We say: 'Leave, leave occupation.'"

For her part, Nariman Tamimi said: "As a parent, I want to say that we shouldn't be afraid of our children and we should support them in whatever they choose to do. They are being killed whether in our homes or resisting in the streets, so support them in resistance."

Speaking to Al Jazeera prior to the release of his daughter and wife, Bassem Tamimi described their release as "a very happy moment".

He added: "We have missed them a lot. But I am also worried because the [Israeli] occupation is continuing and still in our lives."

Bassem's happiness, however, was overshadowed by a heavy heart, as his 21-year-old son, Waed, remains in Israeli detention since being arrested in an overnight raid on his home in May.

International condemnation

Tamimi and her mother were arrested by Israeli forces in December 2017 after a video went viral showing the young woman, then 16, hitting and slapping two armed Israeli soldiers outside her home in Nabi Saleh.

At the time, the teen was reacting to news that her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed had been shot in the face by Israeli forces with a rubber-coated steel bullet earlier in the day, leaving him in critical condition.

 Ahed Tamimi and her mother were arrested in December 2017 [Abbas Momani/AFP]

The teen's arrest drew international condemnation and again put the spotlight on Israel's treatment of Palestinians, especially Palestinian youth.

Tamimi was indicted on 12 charges in Israel's Ofer military court in Ramallah two weeks after her arrest. In March, Tamimi and her mother accepted plea deals that would see them serve eight months in prison, including time served, in exchange for pleading guilty to some of the charges.

Israeli forces initiated a crackdown on Nabi Saleh after the video went viral, arresting residents and shooting dead Ahed's 21-year-old relative Izz al-Din Tamimi during a raid on the village last month.

Tamimi's cousin Mohammed, who is still healing from his injuries, has also been detained by Israeli forces twice since Israeli forces shot the teen in the face.

 Ahed Tamimi greeted by her father, Bassem. Her case drew international condemnation [Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP Photo]

 According to Tamimi's aunt, Manal, who is also a prominent activist in the village, 15 Nabi Saleh residents are still in Israeli custody, four of whom are minors.

Meanwhile, Bassem said he was worried about the safety of his daughter after her release, noting that she had been threatened by right-wing Israeli politicians and settlers.

Earlier this year, Nabi Saleh residents woke up to Hebrew graffiti splashed around the village, some of which read "Death to Ahed Tamimi" and "There's no place in this world for Ahed Tamimi."

Residents believe it was the act of Israeli settlers from the adjacent Halamish settlement, which was built on top of Nabi Saleh's lands.

In another incident, settlers from Halamish demonstrated on a road that divides the village and the settlement, carrying makeshift coffins and chanting "Death to Ahed Tamimi."

Manal, whose two sons Mohammad, 19, and Osama, 23, have continued to be held in Israeli detention since their arrests in January, said she is also worried about how Tamimi will cope with her experience in Israeli prison.
“We are worried about the experiences
 that she’s been through,” Manal said. “In the end, Ahed is a child and what she went through is very difficult. I think she will need some time to be a child again.”

'Inform the world about Israeli prison'

 As of June 1, there are more than 290 minors in Israeli custody, according to rights groups [Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP Photo]

Manal said Ahed's imprisonment has "made it so the name Nabi Saleh and the name Tamimi have become global".

However, she hopes that Tamimi's release can shift the international conversation from Nabi Saleh to the experiences of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

"Now the whole world knows about what's happening here [in Nabi Saleh]," she told Al Jazeera. "But what's important now is for Ahed to inform the whole world about the experiences and treatment of [Palestinian] women and minors in Israeli prison."

According to Dawoud Yusef, advocacy coordinator for Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, Palestinian women experience severe mistreatment in Israeli prisons, noting that Israeli guards are "commonly involved in the sexual abuse of female prisoners, whether verbally or physically."

Palestinian women also face extreme forms of neglect in the prisons, such as Israeli prison authorities refusing to provide "necessary sanitary products" to Palestinian female prisoners, Yusef said.

In the case of female minors being held in Israeli prisons, "the things that stand out are the mental effects of such abuses, combined with a sense of shame over the whole ordeal," Yusef added.

According to Addameer, of the 5,900 Palestinians who were being held in Israeli prisons as of June 1, 60 were women and 291 were minors - 49 of whom were under the age of 16.


Ahed Tamimi: 'I am a freedom fighter. I will not be the victim'

Day after her release, teenage Palestinian activist says she hopes to become lawyer and lead cases against Israel

  Ahed Tamimi: ‘The experience of being arrested was really hard. This experience added value to my life, maybe it made me more mature. More conscious.’ Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

The teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has said she used her eight months in prison as an opportunity to study international law and hopes to one day lead cases against Israel in international courts.

“God willing, I will manage to study law,” the 17-year-old from Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank told the Guardian a day after her release. “I will present the violations against the Palestinians in criminal courts. And to try Israel for it and to be a big lawyer, and to return rights to my country.”

Tamimi, who rose to global prominence as a child living under military occupation, said she and other Palestinians in her all-female prison unit would sit for hours and learn legal texts. “We managed to transform the jail into a school,” she said.

To an outcry from rights groups, the teenager was arrested in December after slapping and kicking Israeli soldiers on camera outside her home. The soldiers had been deployed at one of Nabi Saleh’s weekly protests, where residents have thrown stones at troops who have responded with teargas, arrests and, at times, live ammunition.

She later accepted a deal in court to plead guilty to assault, incitement and two counts of obstructing soldiers.

“The experience of being arrested was really hard. As much as I try, I cannot describe it,” Ahed said. But she added: “This experience added value to my life, maybe it made me more mature. More conscious.”

Her trial was held behind closed doors. Concerns about her treatment in detention were raised after a video emerged in which a male Israeli interrogator threatened the then 16-year-old, commenting on her body and “eyes of an angel”.

Ahed said her treatment was not unusual. “It was not the first, and it was not a coincidence. This is their style of interrogating,” she said.

Her case has highlighted the arrest and detention of what local human rights groups say are more than 300 Palestinian minors.

Ahed said her experience in jail helped with her ambitions to become an international lawyer. “For example, I was under interrogation. There were violations against me. 
International law says that this should not happen to me,” she said, adding that in another life she would have trained to be a professional footballer.

  Nariman (lef) and Ahed Tamimi (on right), 17, at her home in Nabi Saleh on Monday. Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

Nabi Saleh is populated almost exclusively by members of her extended family and is a focus of the anti-occupation movement. Images or videos of Ahed throughout her childhood, often grappling with or staring down soldiers during village protests, have gone viral.

After gaining worldwide attention, the Tamimi family say their daughter has been offered scholarships to study at a university abroad but that she is still deciding.

The Palestinian government has launched several international complaints against Israel, including for alleged war crimes and what it says is a system of governance that amounts to apartheid. Israel has vehemently denied the allegations.

Ahed’s family home is filled with activists and Palestinian officials, who sit drinking coffee in small paper cups on plastic stools outside. Within hours of her release, the teenager met the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Two Italian artists were arrested for painting a mural of Ahed’s face of the Israel separation barriers that divides the Palestinian territories.

  One of the two Italian artists works a mural of Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation barrier. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Her international recognition infuriated the Israeli government, Ahed said. “They are afraid of the truth. If they were not wrong, they would not be afraid of the truth. The truth scares them. And I managed to deliver this truth to the world. And of course, they’re afraid how far I reached. They always fear the truth, they are the occupier, and we are under occupation.”

Some in Israel believe the focus on and arrest of the teenager was a self-defeating move for the country, while others have praised the soldiers’ apparent restraint and have accuse Nabi Saleh residents of provocations.

Ahed has no regrets about the day she hit the solider, a man she believed had earlier that day shot her 15-year-old cousin in the head with a rubber bullet during a clash. 

She was reunited with her cousin upon release and he was at her home on Monday, a large scar marking his face.

But fame has also taken a toll on a girl who was seen as a local hero before she was in secondary school. “I feel proud that became a symbol for the Palestinian cause in order to deliver the message of Palestinian to the whole world. Of course, it is a heavy burden on me. It’s true; it’s a big responsibility. But I am totally confident that I am for of it.”

 Ahed Tamimi, centre, with her friends at the family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Photograph: Nasser Nasser/AP

For now, she hopes for a little rest and to decide her next steps, still enjoying the high of leaving prison. “At last, I saw the sky without a fence. I can walk on the street without handcuffs. I can see the stars, the moon. I haven’t seen them for a long time and now I am with my family.”

Yet her 22-year-old brother, Wa’ed Tamimi, is in prison awaiting a sentence for his involvement in confrontations with soldiers. And the conflict is never far away. An Israeli military outpost and settlement can be seen from the garden where she speaks.

“I’m not the victim of the occupation,” Ahed said. “The Jew or the settler child who carries a rifle at the age of 15, they are the victims of the occupation. For me, I am capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. But not him. His view is clouded. His heart is filled with hatred and scorn against the Palestinians. He is the victim, not me. I always say I am a freedom fighter. So I will not be the victim.”

No comments: