Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar is free again and “not ashamed to cry”
Now free, the feminist lawmaker has a heartache for her late daughter and other Palestinian women who remain in jail.
After her release from an Israeli prison, Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar is overcome with feelings, but none of them are joy. In her 58 years, most of which have been spent as a political, humanitarian and civil society leader, she has been detained several times, but this time, she admits, it has been particularly difficult, more difficult.
Jarrar’s daughter, 31, Suha, also a human rights activist, died suddenly of cardiac arrest in July in Ramallah, and Israeli authorities did not allow her to attend the funeral.
“I had mixed feelings, I really wanted to run to her now that I’m free,” Jarrar said. TRT World after his release. “But at the same time, I was really sad that Suha wasn’t waiting for me this time.”
His last arrest came in October 2019, when the IDF knocked on his door just months after his release from his previous 20-month detention. Detained without trial or charge several times in the past, Jarrar was sentenced to two years for being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) from a left-wing political group comprising both a political party and an armed wing. since 2006. Israel, the United States and other Western countries classify the organization as a terrorist group.
Jarrar was elected a member of the late Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) the same year and was appointed to the Palestinian National Council (PNC). His work has mainly focused on community organizing and issues surrounding social change and ex-inmates.
The Israeli authorities could not find any evidence of Jarrar’s personal involvement in “the organizational or military aspects of the organization.”
More than 400 organizations are qualified as “hostile” or “terrorists” by Israel. Besides the PFLP, all major Palestinian political parties, including the ruling Fatah party, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as well as some charities and the media are included in the nomination list.
In practice, this means that any political activity or activism in Palestine in connection with these designated organizations can lead to criminal prosecution by Israel. In Jarrar’s case, his ever-changing indictments on multiple counts each time involved charges such as attending a book fair and visiting a former prisoner.
Jarrar’s first arrest came in 1989, less than a year after the birth of his second daughter Suha – for participating in the International Women’s Day protests. Her husband of over 40 years, Ghassan, a manufacturer of children’s toys and furniture, was then already behind bars, where he would stay for a total of 11 years. Growing up, Jarrar’s two daughters saw both parents arrested and released time and time again, and as adults they too became activists.
On leaving the prison, the first thing Jarrar did was go to the cemetery in Ramallah, where she was only allowed to send “flowers and a prison kiss” to say goodbye to Suha. As Ghassan held her tight, she hugged her daughter’s gravestone and shed tears before making political statements.
Over the years, Jarrar has managed to garner immense international support and media attention thanks to his resilient stance. But she makes no apologies for prioritizing her grief.
“We are human beings… and we are not ashamed to cry,” Jarrar recalls explaining at the funeral. For her, embracing and showing us what makes her human is a testimony to being humanitarian.
“The occupation does not realize that we are human beings,” she said. “It doesn’t treat us in a humanitarian way.
Women who have been left behind
During the mourning, the next priority for Jarrar was the freedom of approximately 40 Palestinian women who are still being held behind bars. “Freedom is a basic human need,” Jarrar repeated over the phone.
“What female prisoners need (above all) is just to be free – outside of prison,” she said. “I hope my people will also be freed from the occupation.”
The lawmaker was an advocate for the rights of Palestinian women and moved closer to women’s rights when she was jailed in 2015 and she collected stories from other Palestinian women in prison. She taught them English and contributed to efforts to revive the old tradition of Palestinian prisoners of being educated in prison.
At that time, Jarrar was the only woman who was subject to what Israel calls “administrative detention” – a controversial Israeli policy that allows suspects to be detained without charge or trial for renewable periods of six months. often turn into prolonged detention with the approval of military courts. Under international law, this is only allowed in an emergency and only if there is a fair hearing where the suspect can challenge the court.
“There are no specific charges against her, except that she was elected to the Legislative Council on a list that Israel rejects,” said Ghassan Jarrar, her husband of over 40 years. “It’s political persecution.”
There are approximately 4,850 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, including 520 administrative detainees and at least 220 children.
Not being with her daughter in her dying moments was only the most recent consequence of the lawmaker’s plea. After attending a summit of human rights defenders in Paris in 1988, Israel banned him from traveling outside the occupied Palestinian territories.
“I belong to my people, who are under occupation. Everything I have done in the past and will do in the future is for them,” she said without regret.
“I will continue my work for the freedom of my people and against injustice in the world.
Source: TRT World