03/08/2016, 14.32
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Israel keeps Palestinian clown in administrative detention: He poses "danger"

Mohammed Abu Sakha has been languishing for months in an Israeli prison. According to the indictment he represents a danger "to national security". A colleague tells AsiaNews :he is innocent, but we do not believe he will be released. Only his mother has been able to visit him once, and for a few minutes. Inside the prison walls, the young man has put on shows and circus acts for other prisoners, who include minors.


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Months spent in jail, without any real charges being laid, under administrative detention after being arrested at an Israeli military check point: This is the fate of Mohammed Abu Sakha (pictured), a 23 year-old Palestinian clown who decided to dedicate his life to improving the lives of the children and youth of the West Bank through the art of circus performance.

He not only loves his art, but with colleagues from the Palestinian Circus School he promotes programs, courses and seminars to also pass on the beauty of the circus to others. For months he has been imprisoned in an Israeli jail, under the administrative detention decree. A colleague, speaking anonymously to AsiaNews for fear of retribution, said that "the appeal is scheduled for March 21 but no one, except his lawyer, will be allowed to participate".

On  December 14 last, he was stopped at the Za'atara checkpoint on his way to Jenin by car to visit his parents. The soldiers arrested him and the magistrate, without trial or preliminary verification, signed his detention order. Following the arrest his program dedicated specifically to children with special needs has been interrupted and, to date, the campaign launched by colleagues Freeabusakha  to secure his release has fallen on deaf ears. For some time there has also a video in support of his release (click here to view).

Administrative detention allows Israel to hold a suspect for long periods, even without precise charges, and can be unilaterally renewed every six months. Asked about the reasons for his detention, an Israeli army spokesman said that Mohammed Abu Sakha was part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and represents "a danger to the security of the region". In addition, his case is based on "confidential information." A formula, the formula, used by Israel to justify the administrative detention without having to provide any proof.

The colleagues and friends of the Palestinian clown are far from optimistic ahead of the trial. "We do not believe he will be released," said the artist of the Palestinian Circus School responding to AsiaNews, partly because the administrative detention is a means of "repression." "Abu Sakha - continues the source - as well as many others including children, journalists,  human rights activists are detained arbitrarily, although they do not represent a security risk. Their detention is a means used to intimidate those who oppose the occupation [Israel] ". He is "a good person" and therefore "we ask everyone to join the campaign so that justice is guaranteed".

Abu Sakha began training for the circus at just 14 years of age and, from that moment, decided to devote his whole life to juggling, and even to live next to the circus tent (in Ramallah, in the West Bank). Among other initiatives, he has put on shows and courses for children with "special needs." In recent months the Israeli authorities have prevented his family from seeing  the young man several times. After many efforts, in recent days his mother - but not his father, who was denied access - met him in jail, joining a Red Cross team. Abu Sakha reported being locked up together with juvenile detainees,  aged 13 and 14, who have not been divided from the adults. And unable to deny his own nature, the young man said he started a small circus in prison, where he performs and teaches circus arts to other inmates.

The Palestinian Circus School is one of the rare activities in the West Bank that can bring a smile and enjoyment to a people in need, including children and adults. Active since 2006 and registered the following year with the Palestinian Authority, it attracts visitors and onlookers from all over the world. It has also opened a school for circus arts, which accommodates up to 340 children from the area of ​​Ramallah and Bir Zeit. Among them there are about forty with "special needs", for which the circus is not only fun but it is also therapy. "The Palestinian military occupation - the source adds - has a very negative impact in emotional, psychological, and physical terms on children and young Palestinians”.

Through a pedagogical approach to the circus, the Palestinian Circus School wants to meet the challenges, developing mental, creative and physical abilities. It is a safe place where children can express themselves, play and experience care and love. " In Palestine "the circus is a marginal phenomenon" and is still perceived as "the place where there are animals, clowns" and many "think of the shows they see on TV." However, the source concludes, "the circus will certainly not bring peace, or  reconciliation… this idea is naive ... only justice can bring peace. However, through the circus, we want to show people that we love life, creativity, beauty. And that we are working for a better life, not for another war".

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