Words and Pictures by Steve Pavey
On Monday, April 17th of this week, to mark Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to protest the use of illegal military courts and the unjust imprisonment of children, activists, and others to control and subjugate Palestinians in order to take over their land and resources. A recent U.N. report calls it apartheid.
I traveled to Palestine last year (March-April 2016) where I witnessed first hand the use of violence by the Israeli military against Palestinian children. For several days I joined the Christian Peacemaker Team based in Hebron on their daily walks to and from school accompanying children. Each day I saw the use of sound grenades and tear gas on children. I saw the humiliating treatment and harassment of children and others at unavoidable checkpoints throughout the city.
To learn more -- please read through carefully this article written just this week by my friend Azadeh Shahshahani, legal & advocacy director for Project South, who has witnessed this state-violence used against children contributing to a National Lawyers Guild report. Her article provides important links to recent reports of these human rights abuses that are ignored by our U.S. government and our mainstream media sources. I highlight some here for you below:
- Approximately 6,300 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 300 children.
- Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) collected over 400 affidavits from detained children between January 2012 and December 2015. Report here.
- According to the US State Department, military courts have a more than 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinian defendants. Israel is the only country that automatically and systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children per year in military court
- According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), mistreatment in the military detention system is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process.”
- Rather than holding Israel accountable for its violations of international law and human rights, the United States has agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid over the next 10 years, the largest sum ever.
I am returning with a delegation this May (2017) specifically to bear witness and support ongoing advocacy efforts here in the U.S. to end the use of prisons to oppress and control Palestinians. You can support me by financially giving here and learn more about this delegation here.
And certainly, this struggle to end the apartheid occupation of Palestinians, is deeply connected to our collective struggle here in the U.S. to end the criminalization, incarceration and deportation of Black, Indigenous, and immigrants. This is what globalized settler colonialism & imperialism looks like. We must resist together!
Steve is a documentary photographer, applied anthropologist and contemplative activist, all of which come together in the vocation of cultivating a way to see, in order to bear witness to the world both as it is, and as it could be. His creative process is deeply shaped by accompanying and being accompanied by humanity living on the margins of empire, documenting and creating images with those shrouded in “otherness” towards the goal of collective action and mutual liberation. Steve’s photography focuses on hope – hope found in the struggle and dignity of becoming more human. You can see more of Steve's work at www.stevepavey.com and to get in contact with Steve email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Steve works with Hope In Focus, which bears witness to the world as it is and as it could be through activist photography committed to walking alongside the world’s oppressed and marginalized, finding hope together in the collective struggle for human dignity and justice.