Archive for August, 2011

#FreeAbuYazan

August 15, 2011

Yesterday, news spread about arresting a young activist by the local authorities in Gaza. Hamas called him to take his confiscated things (laptop & mobile) then arrested him banning him from contacting his family or lawyer! But how it all started..?

Well, Abu Yazan & I were chosen to travel to Paris for a social media program for 5 days! It was coordinated via the French Cultural Center in Gaza. We both study English-French literature, students in the French Center, blog, known social & political activists which make us qualified candidates for this program! But was it enough for Hamas?

After the five-day program finished we stayed extra more days in Paris then we left heading to Egypt. Abu Yazan was deported from the Egyptian side to Gaza and humiliated, but I was allowed to get in to Cairo! He got to Gaza, nothing happened. One month later on my way to cross the Palestinian hall in Rafah Crossing to finally get into Gaza that I missed so much, Hamas officers stopped me. They asked where and why was I travelling, I answered them saying that I went to France for some social media program, then to Egypt to meet with my aunts and attend the opening of the revolution movie “18 days” that I was invited to. Then later they knew that Abu Yazan was with me in France. They immediately started to look for more information about him. They interrogated me for more than 2 hours and searched through all of my stuff, clothes, opened presents in a very humiliating way as if I’m a drug dealer! A lot of things were confiscated (digital camera, flip camera, external hard disc, flash and memory cards, ipod, my mobile with the Egyptian, French and the Palestinian sim cards, a notebook, and all of the political magazines and leaflets I had with me! Most of those were mine but some were not, they just didn’t care. That was on Thursday July, 27. I had no contact with my family or a lawyer and when I asked what kind of accusations I might be having to get all of this, they said that it’s none of my business, I have no right to ask and I’ll know next time I get interrogated which was Sunday August the 7th! At the meantime, Abu Yazan received a paper saying he should go to the internal security office for interrogation. We both went there twice after that incident on the border on my way back to Gaza.

It turned out that our crime is that we’ve been very active in the March 15 protests that called for unity between Fatah and Hamas. We were interrogated separately, but had the same reaction when we felt that they deal with this movement as a crime and actually going after its members now. We tried to explain that we didn’t go against anyone and what we called for was in our cause’s interest which is the only thing that matters to us! What we did understand from their questions is that we’ve “as in March 15 members” been meeting with politicians (both Palestinian and foreign), implementing their agendas as getting funded by them and asking them for visas. Also sitting with Israelis “which means we’re spies” and they’re holding all kinds of evidences against us! It doesn’t matter how repeatedly we denied all of this madness and how we asked them to show us those evidences and give us a fair trial then if that is the case. As you all should be aware of that there’s no such a thing called “law” here in this small coastal enclave. All we could do is go to human rights organizations to fill complaints which is what we’ve been doing for ages now every time a violation happens, but it’s all in vain! I assigned a lawyer this time, but what could he possibly do? He came to my first interrogation and wasn’t allowed to stay, wasn’t informed of any accusations held against me, simply, he did nothing more than I’d do and couldn’t make them (god forbid) abide by the law! All these organizations and centers could offer is their monthly report about Hamas violations after taking your statement. That is their one and only accomplishment and they seem to be satisfied with it..!!

During the interrogation we were asked about our activities and about what the social media means. I tried over and over to explain them that social media is about civilian journalists. It’s that you are your own media which sometimes and recently much more effective than the mainstream media! After trying so hard to make them get it, they kept asking if our study in college has anything to do with media and for our press card, we said that social media requires no cards and no certificates! I mentioned that a video we (a group of activists) did on the Rafah crossing is a good example of what I’m trying to explain them, but they weren’t interested! And when my friend told them about the weekly demonstration we’re part of against the Israeli Occupation and the buffer zone northern Gaza, their immediate response was “Yeah, you go there, take photos of yourself to show off on facebook”!!!! Abu Yazan said: “Yeah, anything for facebook photos, even going standing only 80 meters far from the wall under live bullets!”. “Apparently, you’ve never been there!”

Abu Yazan & I were waiting for this big, unjustified mess to be over so we can at least blog about it. No one could’ve imagined that he’d be arrested!! We were told that we’ll be no longer interrogated and they’ll call us to get our stuff back. I had no call, but Abu Yazan did and that’s how they arrested him!

My dear friend had to listen to their inappropriate accusations of me and him being in a relationship when he told them that we’re classmates, bloggers and activists and that’s how we know each other!
And I’ve had to cover my head in order to be interrogated by them. They refused to meet me and give me back my things (that I still don’t have yet) unless I put on a hejab. I told them I don’t have any, so they brought me one, a stinky one! And also they brought a praying mattress to cover my legs. Wooo, wait a minute, no I wasn’t wearing a dress or a mini skirt. Nope, I was wearing trousers, baggy ones! We both had to put with their insults and religious preaches as being liberal and secular for them = an infidel!

Abu Yazan is one of the founders of GYBO which produced a rap song “The Mystery” honoring everyone who worked on breaking the blockade on Gaza!

This is day two, and no one knows anything about him. I really wanted to blog about my very-first-time-to-get-out-of-Gaza experience, but I couldn’t escape posting about Hamas’s warm welcome for me that has been lasting for more than half a month now.

Free Abu Yazan..Free your minds!