Amnesty International Concerned With The Detention Of Palestinian Circus Performer

On December 14th last year, Mohammed Faisal Abu Sakha left his parents house to go to work at the Palestinian Circus School, however he never reached his destination. Mohammad was stopped at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers who took him to a detention centre where he has been held ever since. He is now believed to be held in a prison in Northern Israel despite never having been charged with a crime. His family has not been allowed to visit him and he has been given a six month detention order by the Israeli military which essentially means they can hold Mohammed indefinitely without charge.

It is understood that the order to detain Mohammed was reviewed by a military judge on January 5th however no decision was made. On the day of the review an Al-Jazeera report quoted a spokesperson for the Israeli military as saying that the reason for detaining Mohammed was that he posed a danger to the region’s security. No further information was provided because according to the Israeli military the case details are confidential. The Israeli military routinely detains people and denies them the right to defend themselves or challenge the legality of the detention because the authorities refuse to provide any evidence against the detainee either to the person being detained or their lawyers.

Dedicated to the circus

The Palestinian Circus School has said that Mohammed poses no security risk and his only crime is to make children happy. Mohammed started his studies at the school back in 2007. The Israeli military arrested him when he was 17 and held him for one month, accusing him of throwing stones at a military jeep when he was aged between 12 and 14. Upon his release he told his school mates that the military judge said he would never go back to the circus. He eventually became a circus performer in 2011 and trained children in a variety of acts. Mohammed’s specialty is teaching children with learning disabilities.

About Administrative detention

Administrative detention was meant to be used only in exceptional circumstances when the people detained were believed to pose and imminent threat. The measure has been used for years now by the Israeli military as a method of avoiding the criminal justice system and detaining individuals who should never have been arrested. The use of administrative detention has expanded dramatically since October 2015. As many as 580 Palestinians were being held by the end of 2015. Amnesty International believes that some of those people being held by the state of Israel are prisoners of conscience and are being detained purely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.