A New York Police Department officer has avoided hard time at notorious Rikers Island prison for stomping on a head of a handcuffed man despite cries for help. Aside from two years’ probation, the cop is required to resign within 24 hours.
“This police officer intentionally and needlessly stomped on the head of a suspect who had already been restrained by fellow officers,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said at the sentencing Thursday. “And he did so in broad daylight and in front of a crowd of people.”
In April, Joel Edouard, 38, was found guilty after an amateur video showed him and other police officers arresting Jahmiel Cuffee in the summer of 2014. It was Edouard who, during the attempted arrest, pointed a gun at Cuffee and then kicked him in the head, despite bystanders yelling that he was being recorded.
Cuffee suffered scrapes and bumps, a contusion, dizziness, headaches and nausea.
At first he was charged with attempting to tamper with evidence, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. As charges were dropped for Cuffee, Edouard found himself under investigation.
“He deserved to spend time in jail for committing such a blatant act of police brutality, but we accept the sentence imposed by the court,” Thompson said.
The DA initially recommended sentencing Edouard to 60 days in Rikers Island prison and an additional two years’ probation.
However, Judge Alan Marrus imposed only a part of the recommendation, explaining that he saw no “need to incarcerate” Edouard because “the victim recovered and was compensated through civil judgement,” according to the New York Daily News.
Marrus agreed with two years’ probation and also ordered Edouard, who has been on modified assignment, to resign by his own choice.
“If the [Police] Commissioner doesn’t terminate the defendant in 24 hours, the defendant must turn in a letter of resignation,” said Marrus, calling the case “a setback for police community relations.”
‘Police crimes not uncommon’
Since the 2014 police killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, law enforcement agencies across the US have seen community relations significantly sour.
Michael Brown’s death at the hands of white officer Darren Wilson touched off mass demonstrations in Ferguson and across the US against racial profiling, police brutality, police impunity and the judicial system in America.
A recent study by Bowling Green State University titled ‘Police integrity lost: a study of law enforcement officers arrested’ has not enhanced that reputation of police officers nationwide.
It revealed that US police officers get arrested about 1,100 times a year, meaning that roughly three cops are charged every day. The data covers 2,529 state and local law enforcement agencies from 1,205 counties and independent cities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“The first general observation is that police crimes are not uncommon,” the study said. “Police officers get arrested for crimes with some regularity in jurisdictions around the nation.”
Between 2005 and 2011, the period the study covered, the number of arrest cases jumped from 444 to 1,238. In seven years, there were 6,724 criminal cases launched, leading to the arrest of 5,545 individual police officers.
“These cases threaten to undermine public trust in both the authority and legitimacy of state and local law enforcement organizations, and the work of law-abiding sworn officers who go about their job selflessly, efficiently, and professionally every day,” the study read.
The government-funded study reflects a broad range of offenses committed by police, which are commonly related to sex, drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and extortion.
Nearly 60 percent of those crimes “occurred when the officer was technically off-duty,” lead researcher Philip M. Stinson wrote.
At the same time, he explained, “a significant portion of these so-called off-duty crimes also lies within the context of police work and the perpetrator’s role as a police officer, including instances where off-duty officers flash a badge, an official weapon, or otherwise use their power, authority, and the respect afforded to them as a means to commit crime.”
By Stuart Hooper – 21st Century Wire – June 22, 2016
This is long overdue.
The University of Alaska is sponsoring a study that will examine whether of not WTC Building 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition on September 11, 2001.
For those who may not be aware, standing some 47 stories high, Building 7 was the third skyscraper that collapsed later in the afternoon on 9/11, dropping at free-fall speed – in less than 7 seconds – and yet, it was not struck by any plane and was located over 100 metres away from WTC 1 and 2.
The official version of events is that fire spread to Building 7, from the main towers, devastating the structure, and causing it also to fall in on itself, but many have questioned how exactly every single support column in the building could have failed simultaneously without the use of pre-planned explosives.
Dr J Leroy Hulsey, chair of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, has partnered with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth to begin a rigorous academic study into what really caused it to collapse.
Dr Hulsey said:
“Over the next year, with a team of PhD students, I will be rebuilding World Trade Center building 7, using the same drawings that were used to build it originally we will reconstruct it digitally.”
“NIST says the building fell down due to office fires. Our investigation will evaluate the probability that this was the cause of the collapse.”
Ted Walter, Director of Strategy and Development for A&E 9/11 Truth added:
“We hope to gain significant traction in the engineering community by providing an authoritative refutation of NIST’s report, by showing that there is no way that fires could have brought down building 7.”
On the day of 9/11 the BBC reported that Building 7 had collapsed 20 minutes before it actually had, which only raises suspicions that somebody knew it was about to come down. See that monumental screw up, which happened live on TV, here:
Watch the collapse of Building 7 here:
Do you believe explosives brought down Building 7?
… we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicines and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe…
Investigative journalist William Boardman’s findings on US vaporization of Marshall Islands and human experimentation on Marshall Islands native “savages”, as they were classed by US media:
“Nuclear Savage” is a recent documentary film that explores American nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands, 1946-1958, and particularly the secret Project 4.1: an American experiment in exposing Pacific Islanders to overdoses of radiation – deliberate human radiation poisoning – just to get better data on this method of maiming and killing people. The public broadcasting establishment has spent more than two years keeping this story off the air.
The preview reel of “Nuclear Savage” includes a clip with a stentorian newsreel announcer reporting on the American treatment of Marshall Islanders in April 1957, and explaining to his predominantly American audience:
“The Marshallese caught by fallout got 175 roentgens of radiation. These are fishing people, savages by our standards, so a cross-section was brought to Chicago for testing. The first was John, the mayor of Rongelap Atoll…. John, as we said, is a savage, but a happy, amenable savage.”
“Some use the term ‘savage’ to refer to people from primitive cultures, but nuclear experimentation pushed savagery to new levels. In the 1950s, the U.S. conducted 67 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests in the Marshall Islands, vaporizing islands and exposing entire populations to fallout. The islanders on Rongelap received near fatal doses of radiation from one test, and were then moved onto a highly contaminated island to serve as human guinea pigs for 30 years.”
Horowitz, the director of Nuclear Savage, notes that the US “bl[e]w up all these islands … purposely contaminated all these people as human experiments.”
In 1998, staff from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a comparison study to compare the amount of radioactive Iodine-131 at four different radiation-polluted sites, measured in curies (1,000 curies of Cesium-137, as found in a radiation therapy machine, could produce serious health effects in a direct exposure of just a few minutes). The CDC team reported its finding that the atmospheric release of curies of Iodine-137 at the Hanford nuclear processing plant was 739,000 curies; at Chernobyl the release was 40 million curies; at the Nevada bomb test site, 150 million curies; and in the Marshall Islands, 6.3 billion curies (more that 30 times as much radiation as the other three sites combined).
Even recently, the US has tried “to re-re-settle some populations back to their home islands that were still dangerously radioactive.” However, the film helped rally the islanders and reduced the US re-re-settlement effort to nothing more than “a bunch of empty houses.”
One year ago, nearly to the day, the Marshall Islands bravely brought a lawsuit to the International Court of Justice and U.S. Federal District Court “against the U.S. and the eight other Nuclear Weapons States (NWS)”, which are refusing “to meet their treaty obligations to disarm.”
Obama, in direct contravention of US word and legal requirement, is devoting 1 to 1.5 trillion dollars to US nuclear weapons development, even as the US, also illegally, cuts off water to some of its own, poor residents.
From 1946-1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear weapons experiments on the Marshall Islands, the equivalent of “one-and-a-half Hiroshima bombs” every day.
On a related note, Obama continues to refuse to give the country of Diego Garcia back to its indigenous inhabitants. The pristine island nation was seized and cleansed of its nationals by the US and Britain, then turned into a US toxic waste dump-site and base for Washington’s global execution and torture racket.
Seven minute trailer for Nuclear Savage:
Reporter focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry. On twitter @_DirtyTruths with UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson.
A new report issued this month by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med Monitor) is called, “Squandered Aid: Israel’s repetitive destruction of EU-funded projects in Palestine”. The report imparts the obvious dissonance which characterises such violent cycles towards the end of its analysis. It is unfortunate that the tone employed detracts from the necessity to adopt a different stance with the intention to alter the dismal reality, rather than contemplating a widely-disseminated and accepted tone of resigned futility.
Prior to listing its recommendations, the report states: “The United Nations, the EU and countries that finance reconstruction projects, particularly in Gaza, understandably are concerned that any new investment will prove futile if the underlying causes of the conflict are not addressed.” This remark summarises a quote used in the report by an unnamed European diplomat who admitted that, “All we help to rebuild is going to be destroyed again… We need a fundamental change in the situation so that we do not repeat what continues to happen.” In short, the EU and other donors build; Israel destroys.
A glimpse at the summary provides evidence of Israel’s contemptuous destruction of donor-funded projects; since 2001, approximately $65 million worth of development and humanitarian projects have been destroyed — “squandered” in the report’s parlance — with $23 million out of the total lost during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 alone. In the first three months of 2016, Israel destroyed an average of 165 structures, including private residences and EU-funded projects, every month.
Another fact gleaned from the report is the secrecy shrouding such destruction. Since 2012, media and human rights institutions have been deprived of information regarding destroyed and damaged EU-funded projects, apparently to refrain from causing any embarrassment to the EU and also, according to an unnamed diplomat, “to avoid upsetting Israel”. This is outrageous.
When considering the accelerating amount of damage to EU-funded structures caused by Israel, the recommendations to the EU commission and member states are perfunctory. They are simply more of the usual tactics of seeking to stem violence through reporting, meetings, demands for compensation, penalties imposed on Israel (although none are specified), and the increasing visibility of EU policy regarding the occupied Palestinian territories.
Of course, the EU would rather discuss the ambiguous “underlying causes” as opposed to stating the prime cause loudly and clearly: Israeli colonialism and Europe’s collaboration. The EU’s adherence to the two-state fallacy automatically renders any alleged concern invalid, since Europe is all too obviously urging Israel to complete its colonisation while attempting to appease Palestinians with talk of “an independent Palestinian state”, despite the fact that the only actors involved in such gibberish are Palestinian Authority officials. It is also evident that while Palestinians are clearly in need humanitarian aid to provide even the most basic of needs, the EU has no qualms about squandering money for Israel to indulge in its violent tendencies, given its obvious reluctance to hold the settler-colonial entity to account for the destruction of EU-funded projects.
The EU has created a parody out of humanitarian assistance, and Israel has participated willingly, secure in its knowledge that the impunity it has constructed from within its warped agenda has now been assimilated and endorsed at an international level. Meanwhile, further reports of spiteful demolitions and damage will continue to occur because the EU, the UN and countries in their individual capacity are unwilling, as a result of complicity, to remove Israel’s colonial entity from occupied Palestine.
HolocaustHandbooks.com | April 2016
The leader of France’s Jewish Defence League was on the run in Israel on Wednesday after receiving a prison sentence for violent gang attacks in Paris, according to a MEMO source in Paris.
Joseph Ayache, 30, was convicted on Tuesday night alongside three accomplices by the 14th Chamber of the Paris Correctional Court.
All four defendants were self-confessed members of the far-right JDL, which is banned in both Israel and the USA for its links to terrorism.
Despite this, it is extremely active in France, where its yellow-and-black clenched fist flags are frequently seen at rallies in cities such as Paris and Marseille.
Ayache, who has previous convictions for racist violence, mainly against French Muslims, was found guilty of leading “extremely violent and coordinated attacks” against pro-Palestine activists in Paris.
These ranged from punishment beatings to issuing anonymous terror threats by phone or email, and were aggravated by the use of potentially lethal weapons.
Steve Bismuth, 27, Daniel Benassaya, 30, and Laurent Cashauda, 20, all turned up in court, but Ayache stayed away, insisting he feared for his life outside Israel, where he is known to have served with the military.
Video shows a Jewish Defence League vigilante pouring red paint over the head of Muslim politician Houria Bouteldja, 43
The court heard how the defendants, who insisted they were “fighting back against rising anti-Semitism”, carried out a series of “degrading and vicious” assaults against mainly women in 2012.
These included setting up a bogus interview with the Muslim politician and anti-racism campaigner Houria Bouteldja, 43, and then pouring a tin of red paint over her head.
Victims also included anti-Zionist Jews, such as 68-year-old Olivia Zemor, co-founder of the Euro-Palestine group. Mrs Zemor told the Paris court that the JDL used a “highly toxic substance” to “defile” her and that she also received calls threatening her granddaughter.
The JDL vigilantes wore hoodies to hide their identities during the attacks, but filmed them, and then placed propaganda videos on YouTube, said prosecutors.
Barrister Dominique Cochain said: “They [the attacks] were meticulously organised by Ayache and left victims injured, scared and utterly humiliated.”
There is no extradition treaty between Israel and France, meaning Ayache, described in court as “one time chief of the JDL” will escape his year in prison if he stays in the Middle East.
Benassaya and Kashauda each received a six month suspended sentence for aggravated violent acts, while Bismuth received a fine equivalent to around £700 for posting videos on social media.
Video shows Jewish Defence League rioting in Paris, while chanting “F*** Palestine
Olivia Zemor and Houria Bouteldja were awarded damages equivalent to around £15000 combined, and court costs.
In March this year, six other JDL members were jailed in Paris over an attack targeting a fundraising event for Gaza. The defendants used iron bars, baseball bats and bike chains during the attack, deliberately targeting anybody who looked like a Muslim.
Palestinian Fishers Under Attack
Five Palestinian fishers in Gaza – Rajab Abu Riyala, Khaled Abu Riyala, Hassan Miqdad, Mahmoud Miqdad, and Bashar Abu Riyala – were arrested this morning, 31 May, by Israeli occupation forces and two fishing boats confiscated by the Israeli navy. According to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, these arrests bring the number of Palestinian fishers in Gaza arrested by Israeli occupation forces in 2016 to 70, including eight children, and the number of boats confiscated to 20. In 2015, 71 fishermen were detained and 22 boats confiscated throughout the year.
Zakaria Baker of the UAWC, which organizes fishers and farmers for land defense and mutual support and solidarity, said that these violations against fishers in Gaza have only increased since the proclaimed decision of the Israeli occupation to “extend” the fishing area to 9 nautical miles – a decision retracted on Monday – saying that fishers could not make use of this distance because they were prevented by force of arms. The fishers were attacked this morning 5 nautical miles out to sea, Baker said. Further, Israeli occupation forces fired on fishing boats northwest of Gaza city, damaging a fishing boat and forcing the fishermen to flee for safety, and in the sea off Deir al-Balah, firing live bullets pushing the fishers back to the beach.
On Monday, Israeli occupation naval forces said that the extended fishing zone had been “temporary,” for the fishing season, and that the fishing zone was again six nautical miles. The limit has frequently been used as a means of pressure and of maintaining the naval siege on Gaza; while the Oslo Accords set Gaza fishers’ zone as 20 nautical miles, the Israeli occupation has unilaterally lowered it to an area as small as three nautical miles, extended to six in 2014.
The fishing economy in Gaza – which supports 70,000 Palestinians – has been nearly destroyed by the naval siege on Gaza and the attacks on Palestinian boats, causing expensive boat damage to small fishing families who cannot afford repairs and preventing Palestinian fishers from entering deep waters where mature fish are available. Fishers in Gaza have lost 85% of their income since 2006 and the tightening of the siege.
On 30 May – 4 June 2016, activists are engaged in campaigns against the siege on Gaza – the denial of reconstruction, the smothering of the Palestinian economy, the closing of the crossings and denial of freedom of movement, the prevention of trade, the aerial attacks on Gaza, the firing on Palestinian farmers and destruction of Palestinian agriculture in the “no-go zone” near the border, and the strangling of the Palestinian fishery of Gaza – demanding an end to 10 years of Israeli siege with international support and complicity, and the involvement of the Egyptian state.
The actions mark ten years of siege and six years since Israel naval commandos attacked the international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, killing ten Turkish activists seeking to break the naval siege. The occupation’s draconian restrictions on the movement of people and goods, along with its repeated military onslaughts and their destruction of Palestinian industry, resources, infrastructure, and life, have pushed the local unemployemt rate to 41.2%, the highest in the world. 75,000 remain displaced following Israel’s destruction of their homes, which have yet to be rebuilt, during its 2014 bombardment. Family members, patients, students, and workers are trapped, with over 25,000 having applied for rare permits to leave through the one crossing with Egypt.
UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza:
End the Siege on Gaza
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges protests and actions to support the besieged fishers in Gaza, and raising the voice of Palestinian fishers to end the attacks and break the siege on Gaza. Samidoun in New York City will rally on Friday, 3 June at 4:00 pm outside the offices of G4S at 19 W. 44th Street in New York City. G4S, the world’s largest security company and second-biggest private employer, equips Israeli prisons and detention centers where Palestinian prisoners, including many fishermen detained off the coast of Gaza, are held and tortured, as well as the occupation forces and infrastructure – like checkpoints surrounding the Gaza Strip – routinely used to massacre Palestinians while holding millions under military rule.
1. Organize or join a protest against the attacks and arrests of Palestinian fishers and the siege on Gaza, outside your national government buildings, local Israeli embassy, G4S office, or corporation involved in the occupation. If you are in New York, join Samidoun’s protest – elsewhere, send us your local protests against the attacks on Palestinian fishers in Gaza. Email us at email@example.com.
2. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the siege on Gaza and the attacks on fishers. Demand they pressure Israel to stop attacking Palestinian fishers and strangling Palestinians in Gaza. In the United States, call the Israel/Palestine Bureau at the State Department at 202-647-3930 and the White House – 202-456-1111. Demand action on Barghouthi’s case and an end to aid to Israel. In the UK, call UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Philip Hammond, MP, +44 20 7008 1500. In Canada, call Foreign Minister Stephane Dion: 613-996-5789.
3. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott it. Palestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.
You can get the full film here:
This excerpt was authorized by film maker and copyright owner Rick Goldsmith.
25 May 2016 not only marks the 16th anniversary of the liberation of South Lebanon from 22 years of Israeli occupation and oppression by the Lebanese Resistance, but also the liberation of Lebanese political prisoners from the infamous Khiam prison. On 23 May 2000, 144 Lebanese prisoners were liberated from Khiam, 2 days before the complete withdrawal of the occupation forces.
3,000 Lebanese stormed Khiam, the site of infamous torture of Lebanese resisters, breaking the locks with axes and crowbars. “Set up by the Israelis in 1985 on a hill in the village of Khiam in the South Lebanon Governorate, the Khiam prison was considered to be one of the most ruthless detention and interrogation centers in the Middle East. While the Israelis governed the prison, which included 67 cells and more than 20 solitary confinement cells, they used the South Lebanon Army (SLA), an Israeli proxy militia made up of Lebanese nationals, to execute their orders,” wrote Rana Harbi in Al-Akhbar.
Over 5,000 Lebanese, including 500 women, were imprisoned in Khiam prison over the years. Lebanese who participated in all forms of resistance to the occupation and its proxy forces were tortured brutally inside the notorious prison. The prison after its liberation became a museum and symbol of the torture of the occupiers and the victory of the Lebanese people and their resistance, of their freedom obtained through struggle and years of resistance.
In 2006, when Israel attacked Lebanon, it bombed the Khiam site, leaving a pile of rubble at the site of the prison, as if attempting to destroy the memory of its torture, brutality – and its defeat – preserved by the Lebanese people. However, the memory and commitment to resistance of the former prisoners – many of whom continue to struggle and play leading roles in Lebanese movements and parties, including Hezbollah and the Lebanese Communist Party – and of the people, cannot be erased by the bombing of the prison site, just as they could not be erased by torture, solitary confinement, and years of imprisonment.
The liberation of Khiam prison was not merely symbolic; it was central to the liberation of South Lebanon, just as the liberation of Palestinian prisoners is central to the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. The Lebanese people and Resistance continue to struggle against Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Farms; and the Palestinian people and their Resistance continue to struggle for the liberation of Palestine – its land, its people and its prisoners after over 68 years of occupation. The victory in South Lebanon and the liberation of Khiam remains an anniversary of liberation and a promise for future victories over torture, oppression and occupation.
The following testimonies of former prisoners held in Khiam prison were collected and published in Al-Akhbar by Rana Harbi in 2014:
Degol Abou Tass
In 1976, at the age of 16, I was arrested in a village in occupied Palestine for the first time. I told the Israelis that I trespassed by mistake. They knew I was lying but released me anyway. My parents packed my bags and forced me to leave the country. I found out later that I was the first Lebanese citizen to get arrested by the Israeli forces.
I came back to Rmeish [a village on the borders in South Lebanon] in the 1980s after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The civil war was still raging in Beirut but in the south different resistance movements, such as the Lebanese Communist Party, the Amal Movement, Syrian Social Nationalist Party and many other factions, united against the Israelis. A few months after my arrival, the SLA knocked on my parents door. I had to leave the country, again.
I was miserable. I couldn’t stay away for long. In the early 1990s I came back to Rmeish. All the armed groups were long gone. Hezbollah dominated the resistance scene. I tried to reconnect with old militia leaders but in vain.
One day, an old childhood friend pulled into my driveway. “Are you willing to fight with us?” he asked. I looked uncertain. “Us … Hezbollah,” he added. I climbed into his car and we drove away. In 1998, one of my neighbors ratted me out.
“A Christian with Hezbollah? Now that’s something,” the Israeli officer interrogating me said. “How much are they paying you? We will pay double, no triple. What is your price? We can work something out,” he continued. I remained silent. “Okay then Jesus, welcome to Khiam prison.”
In Khiam prison we died a hundred times every day. Torture included electric shocks, being tied naked to a whipping pole for hours under the burning sun in the summer and snow in the winter, and getting whipped and beaten continuously with metal rods, wires and nightsticks.
We were caged and treated like animals. Believe me, it wasn’t so much about the pain, but the humiliation.
On the morning of May 23, 2000, the guards were talking and walking outside, as usual. Suddenly, complete silence. You could hear a pin drop. We heard the daily UN airplane fly by so we knew it was 9:30 am. “Where did they go?” one prisoner asked. We had no idea.
“They are moving us to occupied Palestine,” yelled a prisoner in a cell right next to ours. I put my feet on the shoulders of two of my cellmates so that I can reach the small window right under the ceiling. “All of us?” I asked. “They will execute half and take half … this is what we heard,” replied another prisoner. Before I could even reply I heard a noise coming from a distance. I couldn’t see anything. The voices grew louder and louder.
“Looks like our parents are clashing with the SLA guards as usual,” one prisoner said. “I bet my mother is still trying to bring me food,” another exclaimed. And then we heard gunshots. People were screaming. More gunshots.
“They are shooting our parents!” said one frightened detainee. “No, the mass execution began. They will execute half of us remember!” replied another. Panic attacks. Anxiety. Fear.
I put my ear against the door. I heard ululations. I heard prayers. I heard women. I heard children. Suddenly, the door opening through which food was usually served broke wide open. “You are liberated, you are liberated!” I fell on my knees. I thought I was hallucinating. I put my fist out. Two men grabbed my fist. “Allah akbar, Allah akbar (God is the greatest) … you are liberated!” My cellmates were all kneeling on the floor in disbelief. The locks were getting smashed from the outside. I cried aloud and the door broke wide open. I don’t really remember what happened next.
I was the first prisoner to get caught on camera. My parents watched the liberation of Khiam on TV because Rmeish was still under occupation at the time. They didn’t recognize me though. My hair and beard were too long and well, I was screaming “Allah akbar!”
Fourteen years later, I’m living with my wife and children in Rmeish, and every morning I drink my coffee while looking over occupied Palestine.
In November 1990 I was picking up photos from a store in Marjeyoun, a city in south Lebanon, when I got arrested. I was 19 at the time.
They put a tight black cover over my head and made me strip naked. Suspended from my bound wrists from a metal pole, hot and cold water was thrown on me consecutively … hot cold hot cold until I was completely soaked. Then they attached electrodes to my chest and other particularly sensitive areas of my body and electrocuted me, repeatedly.
In the 70 day interrogation period, I was tortured three times per day. I used to lose consciousness and wake up to find myself stumbling blindly in a pitch-black, 1m by 80cm by 80cm solitary confinement room.
We were tied to window grills naked for days in painful positions, freezing water thrown at us in the cold winter nights. We were whipped, beaten, kicked in the head and the jaw, burned, electrocuted, had ear-shattering whistling in our ears, and deprived of food and sleep … it was hard, very hard.
I endured the pain. With time, I became numb. I survived it all without saying a word. I was winning, I thought.
One morning, they dragged me into the interrogation room. “You didn’t tell me your sister was this beautiful,” one of the SLA officers said. My whole world came crashing down. “Wait until you see his mother,” said another. Handcuffed, I threw myself on him from across the table. It costed me 14 hours in the “chicken cage,” a 90-cubic-centimeter enclosure used for extra-severe punishment.
The SLA used to bring in the wives, sisters and daughters of the prisoners and treat them in a vulgar manner like taking off their head scarves, groping them and threatening to rape them. For me, the mere thought was intolerable. “Your sister will pay you a visit tomorrow. You miss her don’t you?”
“I’m a Hezbollah fighter,” I confessed.
Up to 12 prisoners were crammed in a tiny room. We were buried alive. The cells were like coffins. Light and air hardly penetrated through the small, barred windows located near the ceiling. We could barely breathe. We used to relieve ourselves in a black bucket placed in the corner. The heavy odor of human sweat and wastes was intolerable. We showered every three or four weeks. Once a month, we were allowed into the “sun or light room” for 20 minutes only.
One night in 1991 I woke up to the deafening screams of a detainee being tortured in the yard. The louder he screamed, the harder he got whipped. His cries were unbearable, beyond anything I had ever heard before. “You are killing him, you animals,” one of my fellow cellmates shouted.
We started banging on the door of the cell, kicking it with our feet, yelling and asking them to stop. Other prisoners in other cells joined us, but the lashes kept falling and the cries continued. And then … silence. Youssef Ali Saad, father of eight, died under torture on that cold January night. One month later, Asaad Nemr Bazzi died because of medical neglect.
Do you know what the worst part was? Fellow Lebanese citizens did this to us. I almost died on the hands of a man named Hussein Faaour, my neighbor in Khiam. Abu Berhan, another torturer I remember was from Aitaroun. The SLA members were all Lebanese, mostly from the south. Family members, neighbors, childhood friends, classmates, teachers … Lebanese who decided to sell their land and people for cash.
Lebanese who are now living among us like nothing happened, as if they did nothing! It breaks my heart that our former tormentors have escaped punishment so easily.
Fourteen years later, I’m still waiting for justice.
In 1988, I was in Beirut purchasing medicine for my pharmacy in al-Taybeh (a village in South Lebanon) when the SLA forces, aware of my role in transferring arms to Hezbollah fighters, first came looking for me. They stormed into our house again a week later but my mother told them I was in Bint Jbeil. It was the truth but they didn’t believe her.
I remember opening the front gate that afternoon and seeing my mother waiting, weeping and trembling on the doorstep. “They took away your sister and your sister-in-law along with Hadi (her five-month-old baby.) My daughter, my grandson!” she cried. I put on my clothes and waited for the SLA on the front porch. My sister was 20-years-old at the time and I was 26. My mother begged me to run away, but I didn’t.
My mother collapsed on the ground next to the SLA vehicle. I sat in the backseat and they took me away.
Blindfolded I was shoved into the interrogation room. Boiling water was thrown on my face, and my fingers and ears were electrocuted. I didn’t say a word. This went on for a month.
“I heard Hadi is sick,” one of the Israeli officers told me one morning. He wasn’t lying. My sister in law got infected and breastfeeding her child was not an option anymore. Psychologically, I suffered greatly. I wished they would just beat me up instead. I struggled, but I remained silent. Two months later Hadi and his mother, along with my sister, got released. They were of no use to the Israelis anymore.
Women detainees, like men, were severely tortured. You see, gender equality is not always a good thing [she laughs]. Let me tell you how the torture stopped.
After spending 15 days in solitary confinement, I found out upon my return to the cell I shared with six other women that one of my fellow prisoners had an extremely disgusting skin rash. I examined her and as a pharmacist I knew that her rash was contagious. As planned, I got infected. Soon, my skin started changing and I looked like an acid attack victim.
Clearly disgusted by my deteriorating skin, the SLA guard dragged me by my hair into yet another torture session. The torturer, a woman, was waiting for me. With my hair still trapped between the guards fingers, he forced me down to my knees. Before the torturer’s fist reached my jaw, I told her that my skin condition was contagious. The guard instantly let go of my hair and they both took a step back. I tried to keep a straight face but I couldn’t hide my smile. Nobody laid a hand on me after that day.
Fourteen years later, I made peace with the past. My three years in Khiam were tough, but now I feel blessed. I really do.
Alhaqhr – May 21, 2016
This video tells the stories of four Palestinian children from occupied East Jerusalem, and sheds light on their suffering which represents the suffering of Palestinian children in Jerusalem in general.