Interview With Wife Of Marwan Barghouthi
By Khalid Amayreh - Sept 22, 2002
On 28 March, Israeli undercover forces stormed the Ramallah hideout of West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. The troops dragged Barghouthi to the ground, handcuffed and blindfolded him before forcing him into an awaiting military car and taking him to an undisclosed location. Barghouthi, a member of the Palestinian legislative council and Secretary-General of Fatah in the West Bank, was then subjected for nearly three months to a harsh interrogation over his role in the intifada during which physical and psychological torture was employed. In July the Israeli “justice” system, a mere rubber stamp in the hands of the Israeli army, indicted Barghouthi for, inter alia, leading the uprising and involvement in “terror” against Israel. Barghouthi rejected the Israeli courts’ jurisprudence, arguing that Israel’s sinister occupation and state terror against the Palestinian people, not him, ought to be on trial.
Earlier this week Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh spoke with his wife, Um al Qassam, in Ramallah.
Question: Why did Israel decide to try Marwan before a civilian rather than a military court as is the case with Palestinian anti-occupation activists?
Answer: There is not really any difference of substance between Israel’s civilian and military courts. We have to remember that Israel is basically an army with a state, not a state with an army. Thus Israeli courts, whether civilian or military, are nothing but obedient tools in the hands of the Israeli military establishment and the Shin Beth (Israel’s main domestic intelligence agency). I say that because the laws which Israeli courts go by are actually made up of the accumulative military orders issued by the Israeli army. More to the point, the Sharon government chose to try my husband before a civilian court so that the world attention wouldn’t be focused on Israel’s notorious military courts where a Palestinian is guilty even if proven innocent.
Question: Guilty even if proven innocent?
Answer: Yes, every Palestinian aspiring for freedom, justice, human rights, human dignity and deliverance from Israeli domination and enslavement is guilty even if he or she is not involved in any violent activity.
Question: Are you saying that the entire trial is illegal?
Answer: Of course, it is the occupier’s court, and the occupier’s law. It is Israel’s diabolic occupation of our homeland that should be on trial, not my husband and thousands of other Palestinians whose only “crime” is their enduring desire for freedom from oppression and foreign domination.
Question: Was Marwan subjected to physical and psychological torture after he was abducted from Ramallah.
Answer: Yes he was. For over five weeks he was subjected to the so-called “shabah” (confining a detainee to a very small chair, with his hands tied to his back and legs in fetters). This is in addition to sleep deprivation and unceasing personal humiliation. The purpose of the torture was to extract confessions from him.
Q: Marwan insisted on defending himself. Why?
A: First of all, we don’t believe that Israeli courts have any jurisdiction over the Palestinian people. Palestinians are not Israeli citizens, they don’t enjoy any human or civil rights in Israel. Israeli laws don’t apply to the Palestinians. Therefore, Israeli courts have no rights to try Palestinians. Marwan will have a number of lawyers at hand to help him in case he needs help, but he will defend himself because he often knows what the lawyers don’t. He wants to expose the Satanic nature of the Israeli occupation.
Q: what are the charges leveled against him?
A: The whole thing is a bunch of lies. They accuse him of being the engineer of the intifada, of murdering hundreds of Israelis and of directing military attacks on Israeli targets. In short, they want to try the Palestinian national movement and even the entire Palestinian people for rising up against Jewish oppression.
Q: Is he going to prepare a detailed refutation of these charges?
A: No, he refuses to even listen to the charges on the ground that the occupation itself is illegal and whatever emanates from it is likewise illegal.
Q: what is he going to tell the court?
A: He will tell them that the Israeli occupation is the source of all violence and tension in Palestine and the Middle East. He will tell them the Palestinian people are the main victims of terror and that the Israeli occupation is robbing them of their most basic human rights, including the right to life and freedom. He will tell them that ever people under occupation has the legal right and moral duty to resist the occupier by whatever means available including military struggle. And he will tell them that he is a man of peace who supports a peaceful settlement to the conflict on the basis of two states for two peoples.
Q: Where is Marwan being imprisoned now?
A: He is in a sort of solitary confinement at the Hedarim maximum security jail. I can say it is a concentration camp from the inside, a prison from the outside.
Q: I understand there is mounting international solidarity with Marwan?
A: Yes, we have been able to launch the “International campaign for solidarity with Marwan Barghouthi.” The campaign was launched in Paris and extended to Belgium, Germany, and South Africa. Several human rights organizations are taking part in this campaign because Marwan is known as man of peace and moderation and the elected leader of the largest popular movement in Palestine besides being an elected representative of the Palestinian people.
Q: And you are leaving no stones unturned to attract international attention to the plight of your husband?
A: This is my duty. Last month I spoke before the European parliament and before that I had a meeting with several British MPs whom I asked to use their influence to free Marwan. Also, there was a large demonstration in South Africa in solidarity with Marwan. We are doing all we can to make the world and all peace and freedom-loving peoples around the world aware of this flagrant Israeli persecution of my husband and my people.
Q: Did you ever fear for his life?
A: Oh, yes. The Israeli army is probably one of the most criminal armies in the world. They murder Palestinian civilians in cold blood on a daily basis. They think our lives are expendable and even worthless.
Q: And how you and the kids are managing?
A: We bid good-by to normal life a long time ago. There can be no normal life in the shadow of Israeli tanks training their long barrels toward crowded streets and schools. And we actually have no choice but to persevere and be steadfast. This is a battle for freedom, and we’ve got to win it.