Demand an end to Israel’s criminalisation of artists and for the immediate release of all imprisoned cultural workers.
A BRIEF CONTEXT
Since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained and imprisoned by the Israeli military. It is a tactic used to destroy Palestinian society, cause widespread trauma and fear and suppress those who speak out including artists.
The prison system is created to break people psychologically and includes solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and torture. Legal access is highly restricted, and there is rarely a proper trial procedure. Sentences are judged by an Israeli military officer, who prioritises military orders over Israeli and international law.
Administrative detention is a system of imprisonment Israel uses under the guise of preventative security that requires no charges or trial. Detainment is by order of the regional military commander, based on “secret” evidence, which, therefore, cannot be disproven and most likely does not exist. First introduced during the British Mandate, popular poet Nuh Ibrahim who was imprisoned, noted in his diary about “new laws” that jailed on mass scholars using fabricated charges. A sentence of administrative detention can up to six months but can be renewed indefinitely. The longest recorded detainment under administrative detention is eight years.
Across the decades, many famous Palestinian artists have been imprisoned by Israel, including poet Mahmoud Darwish. There are thirteen instances where staff and students at The Freedom Theatre have been detained and imprisoned, including, at present, Producer Mustafa Sheta, who is held under a six-month charge of Administrative Detention.
Imprisonment through military trial and Administrative Detention is predominantly only used against Palestinians. This includes Palestinians who live in 48 and have Israeli citizenship. Poet Doreen Tatour from Nazeraeth was both imprisoned and then put under house arrest for nearly three years on charges of “incitement to violence and support for terror organisations”. These were similar charges Nur Ibrahim was convicted of, by the British Mandate.
Since October 2023 Palestinians with Israeli Citizenship have been increasingly censored from speaking out, including for simply liking a post on social media. Singer, producer, and doctoral researcher in brain sciences, Dalal Abu Amna was arrested on suspicion of “praise and incitement” for posting on social media, put in solitary confinement for two days and then placed under house arrest.
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are also targeted through more general Israeli laws and lawsuits. This includes Mohammed Bakri, who has been dragged through the Israeli court system for over 20 years on defamation charges for his documentary “Jenin Jenin” on the 2002 Israeli invasion of Jenin Camp.
ln 2020, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the decision that sharing a defamatory post on social media may incur liability under the Israeli Anti-Defamation law.
The persecution, killing or causing severe mental or physical harm to a person, including artists, is considered a crime against humanity and can be tried in the International Criminal Court.
EXAMPLES OF ACTION TO INSPIRE YOUR OWN
In New York City artists and cultural workers organised a Cultural Resistance March, in the heart of the downtown theatre scene >>
SPEAK OUT AT
In Barcelona, a director speaks on the stage after a performance at the Sala Beckett Theatre.
WRITE A PUBLIC
PUBLISH A STATEMENT
Over 3000 artists signed a public letter statement or public letter and ask it to artists to sign, especially if they are famous. It’s a great way to inform people in the cultural sector, find other allies and bring media attention to the issue.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL
Informing or highliting your concerns with your local or national human rights groups helps spread the storry to a larger platform. When Pen International spoke out about attacks on The Freedom Theatre in 2023 it led to national press coverage
READ TESTIMONIES FROM THE REVOLUTION'S PROMISE
The Revolution's Promise is a collation of testimonies from Palestinian artists under attack.
Below are testimonies in English specific to artists receiving death threats, attacks on their lives or those
who have been murdered. These testimonies are available to be read, performed and shared at public events, protests, University and in your local community or groups