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Kelly speaks from Israeli prison after first week

Mika Minio-Paluello | 21.12.2004 12:50 | Repression | Social Struggles | Cambridge | World

Kelly (23) from Madison (Wisc, US) was arrested last week during demonstration against the Apartheid Wall near the village of Bil'in. She is being imprisoned and deported by the Israeli Ministry of Interior because of her role as a community activist in the collective.

Kelly Bornshlegel
Tuesday December 20th 2004, Tsochar Prison, Negev Desert

Today marks the seventh day of my illegal imprisonment in Israeli jails. During this week I have been moved 3 times: most recently to Tsochar prison, 10 km from the Gaza Strip. I have been interrogated by the Ministry of the Interior, Police, Shabak and finally a 'judge', employed full-time at the deportation prison. Repeatedly I asked for my charges, my rights, and access to a lawyer but each time I was met with a blank stare.

The kindness and strength of the women I have met in this prison system continues to amaze me. In a situation of dehumanization where we are called 'Mongolia', 'China', 'usa' instead of our names, where there are only a female prison is run only by male guards, where those same guards burst into our cells at any hour of day without knocking, where are cells have no doors to the shower or the rooms where we change, each the woman goes out of her way to help the others cope and survive.

All of these women are immigrants, some recent while others have lived here for more than 10 years. Many of the women have husbands, boyfriends and children still in israel. They are treated as criminals, despite having worked and contributed to Israeli society for years.

Every mundane detail of our lives is controlled by the male prison guards. Many of the women here are extremely vulnerable – not speaking Hebrew, far from their homes, dependent on guards for everything. The prison administration appears to turn a blind eye to widespread abuse as individual prison guards take advantage of their captives, many of whom have been previously raped and smuggled into Israel as sex-slaves.

This process of dehumanization by viewing someone as 'other' when convenient to justify the injustices being perpetrated is the same technique employed against the Palestinians. Soldiers at checkpoints and demonstrations, Border Police invading Balata Camp and shooting 6 year-old children, Israelis knowing what is happening to Palestinians living a half hour from their homes but choosing to ignore it - all can live with themselves at the end of the day only because Palestinians have no names or faces; they are animals, a nuisance that needs to be pushed away.

I am refusing to co-operate with the deportation administration, as I was arrested in Occupied Palestine while attending a local demonstration on the invitation of local Palestinians. The Israeli occupation is unjust and illegal; therefore I refuse to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Israeli court system over the West Bank and Gaza. Furthermore, the Israeli 'judicial system' was designed and functions not to provide justice but to legitimize and obscure oppression.

Mika Minio-Paluello
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  1. Kelly and Undercurrents video activism — undercurrents