'He deserves to be free'

Abu Sakha's photo held by father

Faisal holds a picture of his eldest son Mohammad, arrested at age 24 at a military checkpoint. A year later, he is still in administrative detention, held on secret evidence not available to his lawyers, and has not been charged with any offence.

man holds juggling balls

Mohammad, known to his friends as ‘Abu Sakha’, is a trainer and performer with the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit where he initiated a circus training project for children with psychological and physical disabilities.

military checkpoint

Abu Sakha was leaving his family home in Jenin when Israeli soldiers stopped him at the Za’atara military checkpoint and arrested him. Za’atara is sometimes called the ‘checkpoint of death’ because of the Palestinians killed there by soldiers. His father Faisal says:

“We were scared when we heard they had arrested him at Za’atara. When we found out that he had just been arrested for nothing, thank God he had not been killed or injured, we calmed down a bit.”

Faisal and Raja Abu Sakha

Abu Sakha's parents have had difficulty obtaining permission from the Israeli authorities to visit him in prison. Families are often subject to degrading treatment during visits, including being insulted and shouted at by guards. His mother Raja says:

“Because we care about seeing our children, we force ourselves to put up with all the humiliation for the sake of a 40 minute visit that passes in a glimpse of an eye.”

circus training

Since Abu Sakha’s arrest, his duties at the Circus School have been taken up by his colleagues inspired by his energy and love of his work. One colleague says:

“He loves to teach as much, or even more, than perform. He used to come in on his days off to do extra work with some students - he believes in this work so much, it's not just work to him."

circus performance

The Circus School has organised events and performance in support of Abu Sakha, which his mother reported to him:

“I told him about all the solidarity campaigns. He told me he feels pained for all the children, only 12 and 13 years old, and the disabled people who are imprisoned. He says that they are the ones who deserve solidarity campaigns.”

circus training 2

Abu Sakha's energy, even while in prison, continues to inspire his friends at the Circus School. He told his mother he was using his circus skills to entertain his fellow prisoners. Raja says:

“He told me we force ourselves to believe that we are in a summer camp, not a prison, so that days pass by quickly."

kids in solidarity with Abu Sakha

The childrens' groups at the Palestinian Circus School have prepared performance routines based on their demand for his release. One of his colleagues says:

“We are working hard to publicise his case internationally and many people are helping us. But we don't want to just do this for him, [we want to help] all people like him, all people in prison.”

Abu Sakha's student holds a sign

Eleven year old Taleen, one of Abu Sakha’s students, says:

"He taught me the trapeze which is my favourite activity at the circus. I was so happy studying with him and miss him so much. We want him back. He did nothing and he deserves to be free.”

computer with Abu Sakha facebook page

Abu Sakha's father Faisal says:

“For us to know that there are people in Europe or other places supporting and working for Mohammad and others makes us really happy. God willing Mohammad will be released. It’s not just about Mohammad, all Palestinian prisoners must be released.”