Tuesday, May 11, 2010


From Mia Grondahl: AT THIS VERY MOMENT JAMAL ABU AL QUMSAN IS BEATEN AND ABUSED DURING INTERROGATION. WHO IS NEXT? Jamal Abu Al-Qumsan is the head of Department of Arts at the General Union of the Cultural Centres in Gaza. He is also the owner of the popular Gallery Al-Itthad. Background: The photo exhibition Gaza Graffiti by Swedish photographer Mia Grondahl opened at the Gallery 1 May. The Ministry of Culture in Gaza gave a permit for the exhibit at the Gallery. At the last minute the Ministry changed their mind about the other activities at the exhibit and made it clear that the planned rap concert at the Gallery, and female dabke dancers wouldn’t be accepted. We didn’t want to have any problems with the rulers of Gaza, and changed the program. The photo exhibition Gaza Graffiti is sponsored by Sida, and was opened by the Swedish Vice Consul Kerstin Alksater from the Consulate General of Sweden at Jerusalem. This has happened: On Wednesday, 5 May, 2010, at 4 pm, a group of Hamas undercover agents from the police force entered the Gallery Al –Itthad in Gaza and harassed the customers. The agents also asked one of the waiters questions about some of the customers, and the waiter called the owner of the gallery, Jamal Abu Al-Qumsan, who came immediately. Jamal Abu Al-Qumsan told the Hamas police agents that nothing illegal or immoral take place at the gallery, but the agents response – after they had phoned their officer – was: "We have been looking for you since a long time". Jamal was then taken by force to the police station. Two hours of interrogation followed, focusing on questions like: "Who are the people you are befriending, who are the women you have sex with”. The police also asked Jamal about several names, among them poets and other cultural figures in Gaza. Jamal Abu Al Qumsan holds the position as the head of Department of Arts at the General Union of the Cultural Centres in Gaza. After two more hours of interrogation, the police confiscated Jamal’s mobile, some papers, ATM card, as well as other belongings, and ordered him to return to the station the next day (Thursday 6 May). Jamal went to the police HQ (Al-Jawazat) at 10 am the following day. The same questions were repeated, and the interrogators asked Jamal to write the "full story of his life", in response Jamal told them to give him tons of papers… No specific charges were brought forward to him. After nine hours of interrogation, Jamal was allowed to leave the police station. He was told to come back on Saturday 8 May. During Saturday’s interrogations Jamal was humiliated, abused, beaten and tortured. The Hamas police blindfolded Jamal, he was ordered to raise his hands up in the air, spread his legs and stand with his face towards the wall. One of the police agents started to beat him severely on his buttocks, leaving red and blue lines deep into the skin. Jamal was ordered to jump in the air while he was still raising his hands. At the same time he was ordered to say his full name: "Jamal Salem Abu Al-Qumsan". Afterwards he was asked to repeat his name in reverse: "Al-Qumsan Abu Salem Jamal". Then Jamal was asked why he had conducted a photo exhibition "without a permit". Jamal replied that he has a permit from the Ministry of Culture in Gaza. The Hamas police started all over again with the same questions, about relations Jamal is supposed to have with certain women. In response Jamal challenged them to prove his so called “wrong doings”. The Hamas police told Jamal that some collaborators (with Israel) visit the gallery. Jamals response was: "If you know these collaborators, why don’t you arrest them?” Jamal is awaiting another round of interrogations today, Monday 10 May.
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