Sunday, 17 July 2011

Still July 9th - still in jail

Cell #2 sports a loo which is is a hole in the ground and a remarkably efficient hose pipe as a shower. There is a sink and there are three metal bunk beds with thin foam mattresses and an unclean undersheet. There are 3 spoons between 6 people and never enough plates or mugs. We also have a plastic table and 4 plastic stools.

At 8.00 am comes the order 'stand'. We rub sleep from our eyes and grudgingly stand. Then a man has to come in and count us. Did he actually think we would escape in the night through 6 sets of locked gates?

Lunch is 6 large, inadequately cooked, unseasoned and inedible boiled potatoes. Breakfast was better - 1 green pepper.

Cell adornment continues. Someone discovers that the prison toothpaste is good for writing on blue doors. Every door is thus 'decorated' and the staff are furious. An artist in our midst has brought felt pens and glorious murals dedicated to peace and freedom appear inside the cells. One girl in our cell is so frightened she scrubbes the door clean, The younger ones, especially those of vaguely arab features become very frightened and cower. However, there is nothing like a middle-aged British woman for fortitude and humour. We sing songs, many join in, we sing unfamiliar songs in other languages and bang on our doors. It is hot and there is nothing to do, so we get to know each other in strange language forms for which there is no dictionary. Everyone know a bit of some language, and we make the most of it.

We try to formulate numbers. The women, as far as we can gather are: 30 French, 2 American, 9 Belgian, 1 Austrian, 8 British, 2 German, 1 Irish. We think there may be up to 40 men, but as we never see them, it is not easy to estimate. There is a rumour that some men have been taken to Be'er Sheba in the Negev. This is the 'army' which Netanyahu thinks is an existential threat to his petty kingdom.

We copy down the Rights of detainees which are posted on the wall, but are told that none of this applies to us. So no status, no rules. No right to inform family, no right to know the reason for our 'arrest', no right to see a judge in 72 hours and so on.

A representative from the British Consul arrives and see us in small groups. He does not know why we are detained, what our status is, when we will go home, if we will be deported, who will pay the airfare, in fact he does not know anything. However he does agree to make phone calls on our behalf.

Interestingly he says that no visitors are allowed in Palestine, which is odd. The FCO website does not state this. If the West Bank is not allowed visitors this amounts to a prison, a Human Rights violation to go with all the hundreds of other Human Rights violations visited upon people whose only crime is to be in the land of their birth. I wonder what the British Governments part is in all this, and to me it amounts to collusion with the Israelis - no small charge, but one I will stick to. Palestinians are living in an aparteid system, their houses taken from them, their freedom violated, their health and safely compromised. They experience daily violence and have no legal rights in a system where internal laws are changed at will and international laws brushed aside like the dust on the earth of this ill-fated land.

We compare notes: The American consul says we are under arrest; the British Consul doesn't know; the Belgian consul says we are under arrest, and the French consul says we are awaiting deportation. We appear to be doing nothing wrong, going nowhere.

SWArgus July 9th

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