Monday, May 20, 2019

Zakaria Zubeidi’s ‘Death Fast’ called off

By Dylan Collins - September 20, 2012
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jenin Freedom Theater] [2nd Intifada] [Zakaria Zubeidi]

Ramallah— Rumors have begun to fly in connection to the potential success of an international campaign enacted by local and international Palestinian activists against the Palestinian Authority’s imprisonment of Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of the Jenin Freedom Theater.

It was until today believed that the world-renowned Freedom Theater was fated to soon bear witness to the death of its co-founder, who has been on hunger strike since Sunday 9 September against his indefinite incarceration in the PA administered Jericho prison without charge or trial.
Zubeidi, a former leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, renounced armed resistance in 2006, choosing instead to combat the Israeli occupation through culture, theatre and art.
"Through theatre, you can talk to the world and give a different message than the way they see us as terrorists", a recent press release distributed by the Jenin Freedom Theatre quoted Zubeidi as having said.
He was arrested on 13 May 2012 as part of a wave of arrests enacted by the PA after unkown gunmen fired on the governor of Jenin’s home. The governor died of a heart attack later that same day. The majority of the approximate 150 Palestinians arrested during the PA’s May crackdown in Jenin have subsequently been released; Zakaria Zubeidi on the other hand, has remained in detention.
Through theatre, you can talk to the world and give a different message than the way they see us as terrorists
Incarcerated for over four months without an indictment, Zubeidi, like many Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, decided to use his only available tool of resistance: a hunger strike.
Readers familiar with last spring’s media outrage and discourse in connection to Israel’s policy of administrative detention (i.e. indefinite detentions without charge or trial), will find that the PA’s detention of Zubeidi bears an eerie resemblance.
Zubeidi’s hunger strike escalated to refusing fluids after a 17 September hearing postponed his trial for another 19 days (a move largely believed to have been enacted in order to give the prosecution more time to build its case), in what many deemed to have been a 'death fast.’
“From this moment I will not eat, drink, or speak,” Zubeidi is reported to have said after the judge postponed his trial.
Standing up and taking off his shirt in the courtroom, Zubeidi continued, “I’ve been a freedom fighter all my life. Can you see the wounds from the bullets that I took fighting for freedom against the Israeli occupation? I will not let you now be the ones to take my freedom away from me.”
You will see me again at my funeral in four days,” he said, referring to a doctor’s opinion received earlier that morning that Zubeidi would not last more than another three days on a complete hunger and liquid strike.
International pressure brings Zubeidi a last minute reprieve
On Thursday morning, however, Zubeidi’s colleagues in the Freedom Theater confirmed that the co-founder halted his hunger strike late Wednesday night after receiving notice that his trial would be expedited to this coming Sunday at the Jericho District Court.
Senior sources in Fatah and the Palestinian Preventive Forces, reports Amira Hass of Ha’artez, have intimated that Zubeidi may even be released after this Sunday’s trial.
The PA’s rush to conclude Zubeidi’s case comes after a week of intensifying international and local pressures.
Activists and members of the Freedom Theater plan to converge on Al-Muqata’a (PA Headquarters in Ramallah) this afternoon in an attempt to present PA President Mahmoud Abbas with a petition signed by approximately 3,000 people across the world, expressing outrage over Zubeidi’s continued detention without charge.
Additionally, pro-Palestinian activists across the globe have contacted Palestinian Liberation Organization delegations to express their discontent over Zubeidi’s continued incarceration without charge.
It remains to be seen whether Zubeidi will justly be released or not, but one thing is for sure: in light of the recent economic protests and accusations of corruption against the PA, its self-styled administrative detention order for Zubeidi certainly isn’t helping to prop up its steadily waning legitimacy.

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