‘Justice for clowns’ demo to highlight plight of 23-year-old Mohammad Abu Sakha whose only crime is ‘making children happy’
Stilt-walker, fire artist, jugglers and clowns will perform in busy London street
Twenty clowns and a group of circus performers will stage a ‘Justice for clowns’ protest near the Israel Embassy in London on Monday 14 March (5.30pm) to raise the case of a Palestinian circus trainer jailed without charge or trial in Israel.
Campaigners dressed in clown outfits - white face make-up, red noses and bald wigs - will assemble near the embassy in west London (at Kensington Court, off Kensington High Street, opposite Wagamama) to demand justice for Mohammad Abu Sakha, 23, a Palestinian man who was “administratively detained” for six months by the Israeli military in December.
Trained circus performers - including a stilt walker, a fire artist and specialist jugglers - will produce a 20-minute solidarity street show for Mr Abu Sakha. Some of the attendant clowns will hold “Justice for clowns” and “Justice for Mohammad Abu Sakha” placard banners and will variously chant and applaud the circus performance.
Abu Sakha is a performer and trainer with the Palestinian Circus School, training children in circus acts, especially children with learning difficulties. He was detained by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on 14 December on his way from his parents’ home in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin to work at the circus school in Birzeit, near the city of Ramallah.
The circus trainer is one of around 600 Palestinians currently held in Israel under “administrative detention” orders, where detainees are denied the right to defend themselves and “evidence” is withheld from them and their lawyers. Monday’s demonstration marks three months of his detention.
An Israeli military spokesperson has reportedly said that Abu Sakha is being held because he poses a “danger … to the security of the region” and that details of his case are "confidential”. But the Palestinian Circus School denies that Abu Sakha is in any way a threat, saying his only crime is “making children happy” and insisting that his life is dedicated to the circus.
Over 30,000 people have so far supported Amnesty’s call for justice
for Mr Abu Sakha. On 21 March, an Israeli military court will consider Abu Sakha’s appeal against his six-month administrative detention order.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“There’s nothing funny about our clowns having to go to the Israeli embassy on behalf of Mohammad Abu Sakha. Far from it.
“It’s a disgrace that Israel is holding Mohammad Abu Sakha, just like it’s a disgrace that Israel is holding hundreds of other people under ‘administrative detention’.
“Mohammad Abu Sakha’s only crime seems to have been to make Palestinian children happy. Israel should release Mr Abu Sakha and all other administrative detainees unless they are charged with criminal offences and tried fairly and promptly.”