Mustapha Abu-Srour, Sabha’s son - Aida Camp, Bethlehem 14/04/2009

Monday 28 December 2009
popularity : 13%

Read the whole report on our meeting with Mustapha and Sabha, on Tuesday April 14

At Mustapha’s and his mother’sin Aida camp. Mustapha tells us about his brother, in jail since he was 22.

I have 2 brothers. The first one was killed by the Israeli soldiers, the second was sentenced to 99 years of imprisonment, or you can say "unlimited"... He has been in jail now for 17 years…17… The Israeli army brought him from one jail to another... Since the uprising, the second intifada at Al-Aqsa (2002), it has become very difficult for us to visit the prisoners... We don’t get the required authorizations anymore… My mother is the only one allowed to go and see my brother… When she goes, she has to climb stairs, 70 steps, to go in and then out, when the visit is over. It makes it really difficult for her. As you can see she can hardly walk now…

What are the different procedures your mother has to undertake before she can visit her son ?

Mustafa
IMG/mp3/Mustafa_sur_frere_en_prison.mp3

As you know the Israeli authorities do all they can to make it difficult for the families to see their prisoners… For a start there are all these checkpoints... Before you get to the prison itself, there are all the detours you have to make (because the “Palestinian” roads are blocked), the checkpoints, the waiting, the controls... Maybe with the aim of making people lose patience and give up, I don’t know... All this even before you get to the prison...

And once she is at the prison, does she have to wait or...?

Yes, she does... It takes hours... The visitors are left to wait in a corridor outside the building, sometimes for five, six hours, sometimes even longer. Then the soldiers call the register and send the people to another part of the prison, where again, soldiers call and control everybody…

And how long is she allowed to stay with her son ?

45 minutes.

So you mean she waits for 6 hours to see her son for 45 minutes?

Yes... Usually, my mother gets up at 4 a.m. to take the Red Cross bus in Bethlehem. Then she has to travel for one hour to Talkomia (?) checkpoint, where they all wait until the Israeli authorities decide to let them go through... Which can take between one and three hours... It depends... Then they have to take another bus that takes them to Chaba (?) Prison (1h30 travel) where they are all put and locked in the outside corridor. Then the soldiers start to call them and send them to another section of the prison, where they are called again, checked again...

What do you mean by "they are checked"?

The soldiers check everything : the documents... Also, they check if you have anything on your body. They ask questions, check everything, also the shoes, everything...This again can take 30 minutes to 1h30… And only then can the visitors go along the passage that leads to the room where their family member is waiting for them.

So, your mum gets up at 4 a.m. and meets her son only in the afternoon?

Well, it depends... Sometimes not before night falls... Often, she comes back home at 1 a.m. the next day.

Can she bring him things, clothes, or food, books?

Yes, food she can...

So, your brother is in prison for the rest of his life because he has taken part in an operation?... What did he do exactly? Did he throw stones, or did he set something on fire? Or maybe had he done nothing?

In fact, somebody he knew had killed a Jew... The big problem was that my brother knew an operation was about to be carried out. He didn’t do anything himself, but he knew other people were about to. Yet, for the Israeli, if you know something is going on and don’t tell, it is as if you had done it yourself.

What does he do in prison? Does he try to study something, does he read or talk about the situation?... Or has he given up and is just waiting for the end of his life?

No he has not given up and will not do it... As you maybe remember there were elections in 1996. My brother thought he could be part of the Palestinian Council. All the prisoners voted for him and he was elected, but the Israeli authorities didn’t acknowledge it… After that, he enrolled in the Israeli University and last year he finished studying Israeli Law.

So, he has some tools now to be able to defend other people, or himself... Knowing the law ?

He first has to understand the Israeli system properly. Then he will try to defend his and other people’s rights afterwards... The most important things for the people who are in jail is to keep informed and look for ways to defend themselves... The Israeli jails will not be closed for ever... As you know maybe, there are talks between Israel and the Hamas about the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, in particular those who were imprisoned before the Oslo Agreements, which is my brother’s case… Which means he might be released any time…

That must help him want to keep informed so that when he is released he could act within the Palestinian society?...

But let’s not talk about the future… We know nothing about it…. Maybe he will... Or maybe he will have changed... Nobody knows…

How old was he when he was arrested ?

22. He is 39 now... In jail, the other prisoners have chosen him as their spokesman to the Palestinian Authorities : he is the one who tells them about all the problems the prisoners have with the Israelis… He also teaches them languages : English and Hebrew…

Does your mother want to say something to us ? Could she just speak right from her heart, I mean as a mother ? Because we are going to bring this back to Belgium and we would really like people to feel what it is like for a mother. If she doesn’t mind...

She wishes there could be peace on earth for everybody and that no mother should be deprived of her son…

Sabha
IMG/mp3/Sabha.mp3