Every year on 1st December War Resisters' International and its members mark Prisoners for Peace Day, when we publicise the names and stories of those imprisoned for their actions for peace. Many are conscientious objectors, in jail for refusing to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent actions to disrupt preparation for war. Supporters send cards and letters in solidarity. This year, there were also solidarity actions with three conscientious objectors in prison in Israel.
Sometimes I dream about the past. Usually, I don't dream about positive experiences, just days I regret and memories I want to run away from. Memories remains an unconscious pressure, and come to me often in my dreams. It smells like a scent of dirt just before raining. I also dream about the future that never came. In the worst case scenario, the very situations I want to avoid appear in my dreams. I always breath a sigh when I wake up, and I’m glad they didn’t happen to me in real life.
What is the worst thing that can happen to me while in prison? For prisoners, the most anticipated thing is being released. I believe that most prisoners hope to get an early release through parole, by being a model prisoner. In a horrible place where I cannot even open the door, I cannot get out of the day and see the outside air and the landscape beyond 4 meters of the wall, sharing love with my beloved, smiling with my friends and family. I feel my heart beating so fast by imagining these things. At the same time, it is frustrating that this reality, these good things, are not available to me right now. If the scheduled parole is cancelled, it will be a terrible thing. Only three month left I have to spend. But those short days keep dragging on.
A longer version of this article was first published on TruthOut.org - thanks to Sarah Robinson for abridging
Multiple letters from Mount Olive Correctional Complex (MOCC) in West Virginia, report at least 5-7 imprisoned people are sprayed by tear gas, pepper spray or other chemical agents each week. First-hand testimonies refer to the guards' lax references to the frequent use of these chemicals as "bug spray."
One person reports getting sprayed after kicking a door and breaking a window because guards ignored his emergency call button. He had not received his diabetic snack bag, which he had been requesting for four hours. In a letter he writes to the War Resisters League he describes that, "I have severe hypoglycemia at nighttime which can result in my death… they opened the beanhole and used a canister of OC [oleoresin capsicum gas] spray on my stomach and testicles intentionally!" OC spray, commonly referred to as pepper spray, is derived from capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. According to his letter, the spray dispersed to the top tier of the ventilation system impacting at least seven others imprisoned in the MOCC.
In July of 2012 three disarmament activists in the United States - Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice and Michael Walli - engaged in a nonviolent direct action they dubbed "Transform Now Plowshares" at Oak Ridge, TN's Y12 National Security Complex. Oak Ridge is a site dating back to the beginning of the Manhattan project during World War II and remains an essential link in the nuclear weapons production capability of the US. The three were able to traverse the terrain of the Federal reservation during the night, overcome four security fences, and confront the Highly Enriched Uranium Maintenance Facility (HEUMF) - a repository for 400 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium, enough for 10,000 nuclear weapons. Once there they marked the area with crime scene tape, unfurled peace banners and marked the walls of the building with human blood and spray-painted biblical peace messages.
Tamar Alon, Atalya Ben Abba and Tamar Ze'evi are facing repeated imprisonment for refusing to serve the Israeli occupation. On 1st December, Mesarvot (a network supporting political refusal and conscientious objectors) called an international a day of action to support them.
Vigils took place outside arms manufacturing facilities and other locations calling on governments to stop arming the Israeli occupation rather than profiting from it. the day of action highlighted that as young people in Israel are refusing to serve the occupation, we should refuse to profit from it. Because as long as Europe trades with the Israeli weapon industry - the occupation will continue. As long as the US continue to arm Israel and buy its weapons - young Israelis will continue to be imprisoned for refusing to aim these weapons toward civilians.
We publish a statement from the Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association - Addameer which puts the arrest and detention of Palestinians in 2016 in the context of wider human rights abuses of Palestinians. Download the report as a pdf here.
07 December 2016
This year, Palestinians commemorate International Human Rights Day mourning over 266 Palestinians including 76 children who were killed by Israeli Occupation Forces since October 2015. Palestinians mark this day following over a year of nonstop violence and widespread human rights violations by Israeli Occupation Forces against the Palestinian population used as a form of collective punishment and a method of control of Palestinian society. These consistent and systematic policies by the occupation include, mass arrests campaigns, torture, hunger strikes, extrajudicial executions and issuance of discriminatory legislations.