Four months ago, Zakaria Zubeidthe, director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, was detained by his own government without charge. He currently resides in the Palestinian Authority’s prison. Because he has resumed a hunger strike in protest to his unlawful withholding, he could die in a matter of days.
Though he has not been charged and, after international outcry, was promised an immediate release, his detainment has been extended for an additional nineteen days. He will not eat, drink, or accept medication. Zubeidthe was visibly weak in court and quietly uttered, “This morning the doctor told me I have three days to live if I don’t drink water. So this court has decided to kill me.”
Last year, Juliane Mer Khamis, founder of the Freedom Theatre, was found murdered by gunshot wounds. The case has not been solved.
Before his death, Khamis stated, “My dream is that the Freedom Theatre will be the major force, cooperating with others in generating a cultural resistance, carrying on it’s shoulders universal values of freedom and justice.”
The controversial work of the Freedom Theatre criticizes both Israeli and Palestinian leaders and always promotes peace. Yesterday over 2000 signatures were submitted in protest to Zubeidthe’s extended sentencing, but nothing has yet to happen.
In the last two days, something equally upsetting and urgent has occurred in Uganda.
A British producer, David Cecil, was arrested in Kampala for organizing the staging of a “The River and the Mountain” in multiple locations in the region, narrating a homosexual Ugandan man’s coming out story. The play lashes out against the country’s extremist position on homosexuality.
If convicted, Cecil faces two years in jail. However, current legislation proposes the death sentence for acts of homosexuality . The public mentioning of homosexuality will be punishable by seven years in prison.
While it often pains me to read the news, ignorance is not always bliss. Knowledge is power. We must stay informed about what happens in the world. As artists, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to report the truth. We must remember, freedom of speech is not only a right, but an obligation.
More information will be posted in the coming days.
[…] hit that last point home with two of the other articles featured in the email. There was the one (that Sean blogged about as well) that dealt with the British producer who is being tried in Uganda for producing a play that had […]