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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Prision 1391: the Israeli Guantanamo

The People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (marxist, secularist) denounces the impunity and secrecy of the israeli death camp known as 1391.

Like other police stations bult by the British, mostly used as milatery bases by Israel nowadays, this prision is only known by a code number, 1391. But it is not just a military base: it is an ultra-secret detention center where, like the case of somewhat better known 'X-Ray' camp, most people who enter there never go out.

Placed in the West Bank, not far from the Green Line, it used to be identified by a sign with that number (and nothing else) but nowadays it has been 'erased' from any records, even maps and aerial pictures by Israeli military censorship.

While the X-Ray camp is known to have 662 prisioners, all jailed anonymously without charges nor any legal notice, nobody really knows how many people is suffering at 1391. The testimonies of the few prisioners released suggest that it has many immates, many prisioners from Lebanon, captured during Israeli occupation of the south of this country, including possibly four Iranian officers kidnapped in Beirut in 1982.

The few available info strongly suggest that torture is normal in that secret prision. Political prisioner Mustafa al-Dirani, kidnapped in Lebanon in 1994, and officially acknowledged to have stayed at 1391, denounced he had been raped by several soldiers.

Other people known to have been kept in 1391 are the popular Palestinian leader Marwan al Barghouti and a businessman called Baschar Jadallah, together with his nephew Mohammed Jadallah, captured after ilegally crossing into Jordan. Mohammed Jadallah denounced that he had been forced under torture to sign a document where he figured as member of Hamas. Baschar instead was not tortured physically, maybe due to his age (50), but he was dumped in isolation for months.

He was in a small windowless cell of 2 square meters (what a bed may occupy) that was painted in black and had a tenuous light on day and night. He had no access to legal help nor was allowed to talk to other prisioners. When he asked for his location he was told that he was "in the Moon". He was blinfolded every time he was moved around and only allowed to see in enclosed spaces.

Psychiatrist Dr. Yahukim Stain, from Jerusalem, declared based on the testimony of Jadallah and other prisioners that the torture method used in 1391 is a well studied one intended to weaken the resistence of prisioners and submit them totally to interrogators. The pain generated by tortures or the threat of them, together with the thought of death and oblivion cause major pshicological damage and a state of panic.

The testimonies are all coincident in the perception of humidity, stinky matresses, the seldom empty bucket used as latrine, a perpetual very high noise that prevented sleep and a an air conditioning always extremely cold.

Torture practices (declared illegal in 1999 by the Israeli Supreme Court) were also denounced by Hanna Fredman, of the People's Comitee against Torture. Recents stats indicate that 58% of Palestinian prisioners were submitted to such abuses like kicking, harsh beatings, violent vibrations, forcing them to stand or sit in unconfortable positions for long periods as well as being cuffed at hands and feet so tightly that was painful. To these practics the direct testimony of Mohammed Jadallah adds sleep deprivation and denial of physiological evacuation, being thrown cold water if he did not complain. Also he was shown pictures of his family and recieved threats that hey would suffer if he did not collaborate.

British citizen Yehad Shuman, accused of belonging to Hizbullah, also went through that prision in 2001. He was violently beaten by some 15 soldiers and threatened this way: "you have to acknowledge or it will be your end and nobody will know what happened, or you acknowledge or you die".

Also, there has been concern that USA could be hiring such secret prisions, specially for Iraqi prisioners. It is known that the North American power is doing that with other allies of the region, such as Jordan or Egypt and many think that, Israel being such a primary US ally, is probably no exception.

Source: La Haine (in Spanish).

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