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Speaking out for political prisoners in Palestine

Interview with Ala Jaradat
By staff |
December 17, 2009
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PFLP leader and Palestinian political prisoner Ahmad Sa'adat
PFLP leader and Palestinian political prisoner Ahmad Sa'adat

Fight Back! interviewed Ala Jaradat, a Palestinian who lives in the West Bank and is the program manager for Addameer - a Palestinian prisoners support group. Ala Jaradat was in the Twin Cities in November and spoke at Hamline Law School and the University of Minnesota, during a nine-city tour of the United States. Israel currently holds more than 8000 Palestinian political prisoners.

Fight Back!: Why does the occupation jail Palestinians?

Ala Jaradat: The occupation is scared. They will hold people for no reason, which they call administrative detention. In the cases of administrative detention the judge is shown a file, which neither the defendant, nor his lawyers, can see. The judge will then decided if the detention can continue, without an explanation to the defendant. There are cases where just being at a pro-resistance rally will get a person jailed on administrative detention. The Israeli occupying forces rule though force and intimidation; they put people in jail to cause fear, in hopes it weakens the resistance.

Fight Back!: What rights do the prisoners have? What are the prison facilities’ conditions?

Ala Jaradat: When you are on administrative detention you have no rights. They can hold you and not tell you what the charges are. Administrative detention lasts a minimum of 180 days, in many cases administrative detention will last a year and, in at least one case, it lasted over 20 years and still there were no charges.

If a person is charged, convicted and goes to jail, the condition are poor. Often prisoners are not allowed phone calls or visitors; there is a lack of food and no medical care. The larger jails are being privatized and the companies that run them have a monopoly on everything in the jail. If you are on administrative detention you might be put in a jail, with walls, or you might be sent to a makeshift jail, which look like cages.

Fight Back!: Can you give us an update on Ahmad Sa'adat?

Ala Jaradat: Being the leader of the PFLP, Sa'adat was not allowed a defense, he boycotted the trail. The judge actually dismissed all the charges against Sa'adat, except for him being the leader of the PFLP. Sa'adat has been in solitary confinement since October of 2009, during which time he participated in a hunger strike. He has not been allowed to see anyone but his lawyers, and then he is only occasionally allowed to see them. The Zionists are afraid of him and don't want him speaking to anyone, not even other prisoners.

Fight Back!: What is your goal in coming to the United States?

Ala Jaradat: To raise awareness to the horrors that Israel is committing, using money from the United States, against the Palestinian people. People need to be aware of the horrible conditions that exist in the prison and how the Israeli government uses administrative detention to hold a person, who has done nothing wrong, for an indefinite amount of time. The United States is the largest financial contributor to Israel - people here need to know what Israel does with the money. They need to influence, people, organizations, politicians, to challenge and change the course of the current administration.

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