May 19, 2008

A short Homage to a Palestinian Woman...

I've been watching one of my favorite programs called "Ziyara Khassa" - A Private/Special Visit, by Sami Klayb on Al-Jazeera.

Today's guest was a Palestinian woman, born in 1951, an ex-PLO member. Her name is Aida Saad. She now lives in Dubai, originally from Gaza.

Aida Saad though in her late 50's, has this amazing young spirit that shines through...

I could still see the 17 year old girl in her, who protested the Israelis and threw a grenade on a soldiers convoy, wounding four. She said she could no longer tolerate seeing their homes being demolished by Israeli bulldozers. She wanted to do something.

She was sentenced to 20 years of prison. She describes her years in Israeli jails.

She was subjected to what she called "very brutal interrogation techniques", she was also was badly tortured, physically/sexually abused and insulted...

The Israeli criminals did not content themselves with that, they also brought in her brother and tortured him in front of her. She said she could take it, but the day they brought her own mother in, to witness the torture of her children - that day Aida broke down. She could not see her mother suffer that way.

She describes the Jail. She describes the long corridors, with small rooms, each room specifically designated for a torture method. She says"one was for water, the other for electricity, the other with a small bench, one with hooks..."

One day she was called from her prison cell to identify a member of the PLO, her elder, by the name of Abu Nabil. She said she could not recognize him, "his face had lost all expression due to torture" and confirms "I frankly did not recognize him."

So they tortured Abu Nabil even more and in front of her. They stripped him naked, and had a thick stick, already covered with blood and another soldier was holding a piece of bread. So they asked her again,"Do you recognize this man?" and she replied "I swear, I don't."

So they asked Abu Nabil to go on all four, shoved the stick in his rectum and made him crawl like a dog and fetch the piece of bread held by the soldier. She still could not recognize him. So they tore her shirt revealing her nudity in front of him, but she still could not recognize him. He was "totally changed" she said.

She then recalls her years in prison, the complicity and the courage she derived from being with her female inmates. She said that the prison years developed in her a sense of fortitude, of defiance, she would have never acquired otherwise.

After 10 years and with outside help she was released along with a dozen others.

They were kept blindfolded for several days before their release and were taken to a special plane and were told they will never return back to Palestine.

Before boarding the plane, the Israeli criminals gave each some "water to drink" and forced each detainee to drink it. Aida took a sip and felt something gluey stick to her tongue. She pretended she was drinking this "water". Her other mates drank it all.

She later recalls that when they landed, all of them had "white lips" because they all drank the "water." She also adds that all of them later died of cancer except her. She did develop a brain tumor but received prompt medical treatment for it.
She is sure it was due to this "water" they forced them to drink.

She ended up in Libya and from Libya went to Syria where she was granted the Syrian nationality. Then from there she headed to Lebanon. But inter-rivalry inside the PLO earned her a few enemies. She decided to leave everything behind when one PLO leader told her " All your struggles and we can finish you off with two bullets only..." This is when she left and finally landed in Dubai.

She married, bore a girl which she called Palestine, and shortly after divorced, raising her only daughter alone. Her daughter is now married with one girl called Aida and lives in Canada.

Aida Saad was given "money and gold" by Sheikh Zayed of Abu-Dhabi and by other associations who would run events for Palestine, but she always refused the money and the gold and gave it all back to the cause - the Palestinian cause and its people.

Today, Aida Saad lives in a tiny appartment. She says that no one can get over the nightmares of torture, that she has no means to visit her only daughter, that her best friend, the Palestinian-Therese Halzon, who was also with her in prison and who also resisted the occupation, now lives in exactly the same circumstances - no money and forgotten...

Three years ago, Aida Saad remarried. She met an Iraqi artist who said he "fell in love with her strength and devotion to the Palestinian cause."He too, is in exile...

She concludes this Special Visit by saying : "I regret nothing, everything I did, I did out of Love for my people and for Palestine".

Painting: Iraqi artist, R.Al-Khafaji