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‘I will die for my freedom’ letter from prison by Zakaria Zubeidi, director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre

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letter 1
September 16, 2012 letter written from prison by Zakaria Zubeidi. (Photo: The Freedom Theatre)

Editor’s Note: Below are two letters written from prison by Zakaria Zubeidi, director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, who resumed a hunger strike on September 17, 2012 in protest against the Palestinian Authority for imprisonment without charge. On May 13, 2012 Zubeidi was placed in detention where he spent his first 50 days in solitary confinement. However, today after a judge announced his case would be re-opened, Zubeidi suspended his fast. The below statements do not reflect the latest updates in the theatre director’s on-going battle for freedom.

Sept 17 2012

I, Zakaria Muhammed Zubeidi leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, currently held in Jericho Center Prison announce an escalation of my hunger strike, and will now refuse water in addition to food. I will also no longer speak or answer further questions due to my arbitrary arrest and the unjust Palestinian judicial system. My hunger strike will continue until my death. I am spiritually, physically and mentally prepared to die for my freedom.

I gave an exact copy of this statement to Head of the Jericho Prison in case the spokesperson for Palestinian Security Service, Adnan al-Damiri attempts to denounce or challenge the truth of my statement

letter 2
September 17, 2012 letter written from prison by Zakaria Zubeidi. (Photo: The Freedom Theatre)

. . .

Sept 16 2012

To the Freedom Fighters of my people and throughout the World:

I have been a fighter and have struggled for my people and homeland. I shared my own blood with my brother martyrs and prisoners and participated with them in our struggle for freedom for 10 years. I never surrendered or gave up my rifle against the unjust Israeli occupation that lays over the Palestinian people. After the political changes in the region – I then laid down my weapons but I continued my struggle for my own personal dignity and my people’s freedom. I have now gone through a five year cultural battle for the freedom of my people and we have all have made sacrifices – and even then the biggest cost is blood, including the assassination of my brother and companion Juliano Mer-Khamis the Director of the Freedom Theatre. Despite fighting the occupation in every way I can, I am now being subjected to further injustice, this time by my own people, represented by my arrest by the Palestinian Security Forces on May 5th, 2012, without charges, evidence or witnesses.

Yet, I have followed law and order and continue to up to this moment, but I strongly refuse to submit further to this injustice without any cause whatsoever. This injustice not only robs me of my freedom but damages freedom for all. I am now fighting a new battle in Jericho prison with the only weapon I have left – my own life – through my continuing hunger strike. But now this strike includes food and water. I also refuse to speak further – accepting that the end of this strike must inevitably be my death. I am mentally prepared to die, in the same way many people fought with me – and gave their lives for freedom.

The taste of freedom, the nurturing milk of freedom, was fed to me by my parents who both died themselves for this freedom. My brother and leader, Ziyad al-Amer and companion martyr of cultural resistance, Julino Mer-Khamis and all the martyrs I have fought with have died for Palestinian freedom.

I say to my family, my wife, my dear children – do not grieve for me. This is my path that must lead to two possible ends, either victory and freedom, or death.

Finally, I thank all the freedom fighters at home and all over the world that have been supportive of our cause and I especially thank The Freedom Theatre.

After my medical exam today, Sunday, Sept 16, which will be my last, I will refuse any medical intervention. My current medical status includes dizziness and severe pain in my back , joints, and kidneys. My blood pressure is 60/100. My heart rate is 68 beats per minute. I am able to take 12 breaths a minute and my blood sugar is 84.

Translation provided by the Jenin Freedom Theatre.


Zakaria Muhammed Zubeidi

Zakaria Muhammed Zubeidi is the director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre and the former leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin.

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3 Responses

  1. ColinWright on September 20, 2012, 4:20 am

    I wonder if the PA is trying to get permission from the Israelis to release him?

  2. ColinWright on September 20, 2012, 4:28 am

    I love this one. From the Wikipedia page:

    “On December 29, 2011, Israel rescinded Zubeidi’s pardon for unstated reasons…”

    How can you just ‘rescind’ a pardon? It sounds like a joke.

    Q: When is a pardon not a pardon?

    A: When it’s an Israeli pardon.

  3. seafoid on September 20, 2012, 7:51 am

    the international campaign has been impressive

    “As Harriet Sherwood points out (Detained Palestinian theatre director resumes hunger strike, 18 September) a world-renowned theatre, the Freedom Theatre of Jenin, is about to see the death of its cofounder, Zakaria Zubeidi, who is imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority and is on hunger and fluid strike. Zubeidi, a former leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, laid down his arms in 2006 to start a theatre with Juliano Mer Khamis in the Jenin refugee camp, and decided to fight the Israeli occupation through theatre and art rather than armed resistance.
    “Through theatre, you can talk to the world and give a different message than the way they see us as terrorists,” he once said. Zubeidi was imprisoned on 13 May after a wave of arrests in Jenin. He has not been charged with any crime. At a hearing on 17 September, Zubeidi was sentenced to another 19 days in prison, allegedly to give the prosecution more time to build its case. According to a statement by Human Rights Watch: “Israel and the Palestinian Authority are violating international law when they throw Palestinians in jail for months or years without charge or trial.”
    Zubeidi has told his lawyer and colleagues that PA officials cuffed his arms behind his back and threw him down a staircase, forced him to drink water from a toilet, tied him outside to an iron door during the heat of the day, and made him stand with his arms shackled above him for two days while he was imprisoned in Jericho.
    Jennifer Marlowe, human rights activist and board member of Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, has written: “It will be beyond tragic – and more than a little ironic – if Zakaria Zubeidi, whose life was shaped by experiencing, and resisting, Israeli violence, were to die in his resistance to Palestinian oppression.” We demand his release.
    Vanessa Redgrave, Mariam Said, Stéphane Hessel, Alice Walker, Oskar Eustis Artistic director, Joseph Papp Public Theatre, New York, Jim Nicola Artistic director, New York Theatre Workshop, Nehad Selaiha Theatre critic, Al Ahram Daily, Cairo, Nitin Sawhney, Professor Amy Schrager Lang Syracuse University and 50 others”

    and it looks like it has worked, ma sha allah

    The campaign being waged by international pro-Palestinian activists against the incarceration of Zakarya Zubeidi is beginning to show signs of success, friends of the Jenin Freedom Theater co-founder said Thursday.

    Zubeidi, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp and a former leading militant turned cultural activist, has been under Palestinian Authority custody since May and went on hunger strike September 9.

    Colleagues of his from the Freedom Theater said Zubeidi was promised late Wednesday that the next session of deliberations regarding his arrest would be pushed up by 12 days, to take place this coming Sunday at the Jericho District Court.

    In exchange for the expedited deliberations, Zubeidi was asked to put an end to his hunger strike – which since Monday has included refusal to drink fluids.

    Colleagues in the the Freedom Theater confirmed that Zubeidi has halted his hunger strike, adding that senior sources in the Palestinian Preventive Forces and in Fatah have said Zubeidi could be released on Sunday.

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