For several years some NGOs, both Kurdish and foreign, have been campaigning, with the support of the Kurdish Regional Government, against excision, which is practices in the most Southern regions of Kurdistan, although this practice is unknown in North and West Kurdistan.
Along side an effort of informing and preventing this practice, some groups of research workers have been travelling all over the three governorates as well as Kirkuk secure accurate figures about this practice
Following a Human Rights Watch report in June 2010, the Kurdish Prime Minister, Barham Salih publicly stated his opposition to excision. On 11 December last an official enquiry carried out by a group of doctors on a sample of 5,112 women established that 41% had been excised.
Another NGO, WADI, had earlier conducted an enquiry covering all the regions and had noted a drop in the figures in accordance with the women’s’ ages. For the Suleimaniyah, Irbil and Garmiyan regions (Dohuk was not covered) in a sample of 1408 women, 72,2% had been excised. In this group, however, it was noted that only 57% of women under 20 years of age were excised as against 95% of those over 58 years old, which confirms the widely held Kurdish opinion that it is a dying tradition.
Another enquiry carried out by WADI took place in Kirkuk, i.e. outside the Kurdistan Region, in difficult conditions because of the political situation there and of the poor relations between the Kurdistan and Central governments. Kirkuk was considered a particularly interesting laboratory for this enquiry as it enable an assessment of the extent to which excision existed in Iraq among other communities than the Kurds, even though the latter were the only ones to admit it publicly.
Of a total of 1807 women, 738 had been so mutilated, i.e. 41%. Analysed on a religious basis, it was seen that this practice is much more common amongst Shafeite Moslems, both Arab and Kurdish, than amongst the Shiites. The NGO admitted that their sample mainly covered Kurdish areas because the Arab and Turcoman quarters were too dangerous for this kind of enquiry. Consequently it cannot be certain whether excision is just a “Kurdish problem” or not, even though the incidence was 65% in the Kurdish quarter of Rahimwa as against 17.8% in the Arab quarter of Qey al-Matanaza. There was not a single case of excision among the 43 women examined in the Turcoman quarter of Yaiyi Awsheshly . As against this, in the town of Dubz, which has a mixed Kurdish, Arab and Turcoman population, 66% of the women, regardless of ethnicity, had been excised. It seems, therefore, that this practice is current outside the Kurdish regions, either by contamination or because of a common religious source — Shafeism.
Questioned or called upon to express their views on excision, the Kurdish Ulemas were divided since there is not a word about female excision in the Quran or the hadith, either for or against. Shafeite jurisprudence classes it among the religious obligations. Thus, the Imam of the Haji Osman Alaf mosque declared in 2010, in the course of a sermon on the Sharia, that not to consider excision was recommended by the Prophet Mohammad showed “ignorance”. Imam Mala Yassin Hakim Piskandi, on the contrary, insisted on the “sunnah” nature of this practice, that is to say that was recommended but not obligatory in the three other Islamic schools: Hanbaliste, Malekite and Hanafite. This view is shared by Ali Qaradakhi, the General Secretary of the International Union of Moslem Scholars, who had recently written in a local newspaper, that excision was not obligatory: “Excision is an ancient issue that has recently come to the surface. Moslem doctors have divergent opinions on the subject. In my view, the most relevant opinion is that the practice of excision is not necessary in Islam”.
This practice receives no support from the Kurdish Government that, pm the contrary, has several times expressed its disapproval. Indeed, on 25 November last, a concrete step was taken when representatives of the KRG, in the presence of several foreign diplomats, publicly announced their determination to fight against “honour crimes” and excision. A public campaign of information to warn people about the harmful effects and dangers of excision was launched while, as the same time, the Kurdish government commissioned two British Universities to conduct a study of “honour crimes”.
The “Stop FGM” NGO recognised and praised the Kurdish Region and its public commitment to eradicating violence against women. The Kurdish Minister of Health, in opposition to the majority of the Kurdish Ulemas who agree that, even if excision is not an obligation, it is, nevertheless, a praiseworthy and not an illicit action, had already announced at the end of October 2010, his determination to ban excision. He called on the Fatwa Committee of the Kurdistan High Commission on Religion unequivocally to condemn this practice. In 2—7, the Kurdistan Minister of Justice had already decreed that any woman who practiced excision should be arrested, tried and sentenced. However this had little effect in practice. In 2008 and 2009 the Kurdish authorities strengthened the legislation against excision and committed themselves to lead and support educational campaigns to encourage the population to abandon this form of mutilation. Here too, however, the actions undertaken remained just promises.
In February 2010, 51 NGOs stated a campaign against excision. In fact, even in religious circles there were differences of opinion. In Egypt Al Azhar, the most influential religious university of the Sunni world, recently issued an unfavourable opinion on excision because complications could result that harmed women health. Dr. Mustafa Zaim, a recognised Kurdish expert of the Sharia (Moslem jurisprudence) who was educated at Al Azhar and now teaches religious science at Mustassiriyyah University of Baghdad, recently published a book against excision and has said he was prepared to debate the issue publicly with anyone who disagreed with him. He argues that excision is forbidden in no less than 11 verses of the Quran. Another argument he uses is that the places where Islam was founded do not practice it, which negates the thesis of a “religious obligation”: “Excision is practiced in neither Mecca or Medina and as the Kurds received Islam from these places why do they practice it in Kurdistan?”
Other religious authorities, members of the Fatwa Commission, support Mustafa Zaim. Thus Mullah Ahmad Shafi’i said: “Since medical advice is unanimous about excision and all doctors agree that excision is harmful for peoples’ health, we will issue a Fatwa against this practice”.
In August 2010, the Kurdish newspaper Rudaw carried out a poll among young unmarried Kurds that showed a change in attitudes about this important marital “asset” for young women that, in the eyes of the older generations, was the fact of being excised. Some young men now hope to marry a girl who is not excised, since they fear that marital sexual relations in might be unsatisfactory. An attitude confirmed by a journalist, Runak Raraj Rahim, who carried out some enquiries on women’s problems in Kurdish society, and say signs of a growing awareness about this issue in the population.
A Kurd in Iran, Hossein Khezri, 28 years of age, was executed by hanging in Urmiah Prison, without either his lawyer of his family being warned. He had been sentenced for membership of PJAK (an Iranian branch of the PKK.
He was arrested in 2008 and charged with having taken part in the assassination of a police officer at Urmiah in 2005. After two and a half years’ detention, the torture and ill treatment had virtually blinded him. He had spent 8 months in solitary confinement, which had considerably disturbed his psychological state and had led him to make two suicide attempts.
In a letter sent on 7 October to the Human Rights defence NGOs, Hossein Khezri described his case and the conditions of his detention. On 17 November, the Supreme Court issued a note to Urmiah Prison ordering his execution, while his lawyer resigned from the case in suspicious circumstances. On 19 November Amnesty International initiated an urgent appeal to the Iranian authorities on Hossein Khezri’s behalf.
On 6 January, his brother and other members of his family were able to visit him in Urmiah Prison and the authorities clearly informed his family that it would be their last visit. His parents feared that execution was imminent.
On 13 January his family was refused any further information. The authorities simply told them that Hossein Khezri had been sent to Teheran for his sentence to be executed. They then feared he had been executed secretly.
On 15 January several web sites announced his death but his family received no confirmation of this. There was just a rumour that a prisoner had been hanged at Urmiah and the Kurdish movements said it was Hossein Khezri. On the 16th, this news was taken up by the Kurdish press agencies like peyamner.com
Hosein Khezri’s letter of 7 November 2010.
I, Hoosein Khezri, am a political prisoner found guilty of activity threatening state security by the 10th Chamber of the Urmiah Revolutionary Court. The sentence was confirmed by the 10th Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Azerbaijan Province and by the 31st Chamber of the Supreme Court. I have been sentenced to death.
I well try to show you the methods used during my interrogations, the investigation and the trial, despite the Curt’s efforts to forbid, to the people of Iran and the international community, any mention of such schemes and methods, as well as their refusal to take into account my open letter to the Justice Department. Despite all their efforts, I will try to tell the world something about the situation in which I find myself, in the hope that someone might hear my voice.
I have been detained since 31 July 2008. I was arrested at Kermanshah by the Nabi Akram branch of the Guardians of the Revolution (Sepah) and remained in their hands for 49 days. During that time I was subjected to serious mental and physical tortures including the following:
Beaten for several hours daily.
Psycholigical pressure and intimidation during interrogation.
Threats to involve my brother, my brother-in-law and my family in charges of “illegal activity” against the government.
Kicks in my genital organs, causing bleeding and swellings for 14 days.
An open wound on my right leg, 8 cm long as a result of kicks during my interrogation — the wound is still open.
Violent baton blows all over my body for 49 days, causing bruising and inflammation all over the body
According to article 38 of the Iranian Constitution, torture is strictly forbidden for extorting confessions or obliging someone to testify. Confessing, or swearing an oath under duress is illegal and any confessions secured by such methods are considered null and void. Moreover the same laws state that offenders must be tried and sentenced. The question is — what about the law?
As I said above, I was tortured in Kermanshah, in the detention centre, and subjected to physical and psychological pressures. Why is evidence, secured in such conditions, not only considered acceptable by the Court but even used to sentence me so heavily?
I was transferred from the Nabi Akram Sepah Prison to that of the al-Mahdi Sepah at Urmiah on 18 September 2008. In this new jail I was subjected to psychological pressure and severe physical torture.
I was again transferred to the Urmiah Department of Information on 8 January 2009 and then to the headquarters of the Intelligence Ministry 9n 15 February 2009 and again tortured. After being transferred to Urmiah Prison on 11 May 2009 I was brought before the Court for the first and last time, at one of the Urmiah Revolutionary Court Chambers.
The representative of the Intelligence Ministry was present at the court, alongside the Public Prosecutor. Before the trial I was warned that I could not speak about the torture nor was I allowed to mention a single one of the interrogation methods, nor what happened during those sessions I was also threatened not to indicate that my confession had been secured under torture.
With such a climate at the trial and the fact that I was not given any time to prepared a statement to defend my self, how could my lawyer defend me against such serious charges in ten minutes even if I was innocent.
This raises another question: what was the point of my being present in such a parody of a trial other than to prove that I had had a “trial” and that I had been “sentenced” at that trial.
Despite the threats and pressures, I told the judge at the head of the 1st Chamber of the Revolutionary Court that I truly had been tortured and that my confessions were not valid since obtained by severe physical and mental force. I also told him that I had been warned neither to mention the torture nor to retract my confession. Alas, he went ahead with the trial without any enquiry into my complaint and sentenced me in 10 minutes. The same sentence was passed at the Appeal Court and them, on 8 August 2009 was made final and I was sent to Urmiah Central Prison.
I must say that between the first sentence and the Appeals Court I did not give up. On 27 July 2009, two seeks before the final verdict, I sent an official complaint of illegal and inhuman treatment to the Public Prosecutor or the Urmiah military court, complaint that was included in my case on 31 December 2009. On 16 February 2010 my brother was informed that I had complained about the way I had been treated during my interrogations by the Intelligence officers at the al-Mahdi Prison on 7 December 2009 and that I wanted an official medical examination.
My complaint to the Military Court was presented to the principal courts and, despite my complaints about the behaviour of the interrogators and officers of the al-Mahdi branch of the Guardians of the Revolution (Sepah) and the medical evidence of torture that I showed them and my demand for an official medical examination, the Prosecutor of the 8th Chamber did not even call for a medical examination to check whether I was telling the truth or not.
On 2 February 2009, just after I had sent my complaint and presented the evidence of the forensic doctor, I was taken to the Intelligence Ministry under guard and detained there for three days. During those three days I was threatened about my complaint and asked why I dared to complain, telling me that I would have to be filmed reading the confessions they had written for me and denying that I had been ill treated in any way. They told me that if I cooperated they might reduce the charges and my sentence. These open threats and their attempts to create a fictional reality for the public is the way they barter with human lives.
When my family learnt that I had been transferred to the Intelligence Ministry, it was terrified and while my father was trying to get some information he only received confused and contradictory answers. He was so frightened that I might be executed that he had a fatal heart attack at the Intelligence Ministry ands was sent to the hospital where he died, thus adding another chapter to the crimes of the Islamic Republic, that so frightens the parents of a political prisoner, which is much worse than a real execution. Who will answer for such crimes?
Barely 20 days after my father’s death, I was suddenly transferred to Qazvin Prison. You can imagine my state of mind, especially after passing hours handcuffed and blindfolded, without any explanation of what was going to happen to me. After some hours in these conditions, the mentioned, quite by chance, that I had been transferred to another prison and “should not worry”. So far no one has followed up my complaints or my request to be examined by a forensic doctor nor have they given any reasons for their refusal to take my complaints into account.
On 19 April 2009, the 104th Branch of the Urmiah Army Court passed sentence. No one, no representative of Intelligence or the Revolution Guards explained anything to me; I did not have any medical examination and I still don’t know on what grounds I was sentenced.
A charge shit drawn up by the Intelligence Ministry and the Court charges me with being an armed fighter. I had no weapons when arrested, my struggle was purely political and I have never born arms against Iran. Nevertheless, I passed 8 months in solitary confinement in a variety of cells, those of Nabi Akram in Kermanshah, t al-Mahdi and the Intelligence Ministry at Urmiah under the worst conditions, savagely tortured, humiliated and constantly threatened.
The 8 months I passed in solitary confinement have affected by psychological condition to such an extent that I have twice attempted suicide. I thought that death was far preferable to this daily torture and such inhuman living conditions. How is it possible in the world of today for someone to be tortured for 8 months without being allowed a single visit or any contact with a lawyer, even by telephone?
In conclusion, I, Hossein Khezri, am a political prisoner, condemned to death, and kept in solitary confinement to such an extent that when my open letter reached ht Court, the prison refused to identify my name or my fingerprints and the letter itself was confiscated. I do not yet know when I will be executed. I do not know if it will be tomorrow to the next day or tonight and I am not allowed to receive any visits or tell anyone that I am still alive.
It is under these conditions that I am asking all human rights defenders and organisations concerned with human rights or the rights of prisoners to accept my request and speak on my behalf out of humanity.
As from now, I officially recognise all of you as my lawyers and ask you to help me bring my case before a just and equitable court, without any secrecy, and I will openly answer all your questions.
Finally I ask the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations to be good enough to read, publish and study my case.
Political prisoner in Urmiah Central Prison’s death row, cell N° 12
The American human rights defence organisation, Human Rights Watch, has just published its 2010 annual report, from which we give the following extracts.
Already criticised for the slow progress of its advances in human rights despite so many promises, the assessment assesses its record for 2010 as “half-hearted”: arbitrary detentions, legal proceedings bordering on harassment, unjustified sentences for terrorism even though the AKP government has partly reformed the Constitution inherited from the 1980 coup d’état.
However, the NGO considers that the much publicised “opening up” is advancing at a snails pace, the Constitutional Court banned the pro-Kurdish DTP party in December 2009 for “separatist activity” and hundreds of the members of this party and of the BDP that succeeded it are being tried for membership of the KCK (Union of Kurdistan Communities), which is accused of being a PKK cover.
Even though there is increasing talk about a political settlement of the conflict, clashes between the Army and guerrillas are continuing. There was an attack on a bus in Hakkari that resulted in 9 civilian victims, without is being clearly established whether the authors of this were PKK or Turkish security forces. The PKK is also suspected of the murder of 2 Imams in Hakkari and Sirnak.
Acts of anti-Kurdish violence have occurred in the rest of the country. In July 2010 properties belonging to Kurds living in Bursa Province were completely wrecked.
Although debate is increasingly open in Turkey on previously tabooed subjects, people are still being subjected to legal proceedings for adopting non-violent stands, statements, speeches of writings, and kept in detention for long periods pending trial.
Journalists and publishers are also legally harassed, either for “attempting to influence legal proceedings” or for “violating the secrecy of investigations” or else “terrorist propaganda”.
Thus the editor of the daily Azadiya Welat, Verdat Kursun was sentenced to 166 years imprisonment in May 2010 for 103 offenses of “terrorist propaganda” and “membership of the PKK”. Still in jail, he is waiting for his appeal to be heard.
Access to certain Internet sites is still forbidden, YouTube for example. Some pro-Kurdish or Leftwing newspapers are subjected to arbitrary closure. In 2010, the European Human Rights Court sentenced Turkey on several occasions for breaches of the freedom — for example misusing the Anti-Terrorist laws so as to forbid the publication of reviews.
This Anti-Terrorist Law is still used for legal proceedings against pro-Kurdish demonstrators just as if they were armed fighters. Many of them were kept long periods in detention and then sentenced to heavy penalties. This law was only amended last July so as exclude minors from being jailed.
Hundreds of leaders rank and file activists of the pro-Kurdish DTP and its successor the BDP (which has 20 members of Parliament) has been taken to court this year on the grounds of their connections with the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK), an organisation accused of an offshoot of the PKK.
In October 2010, 7 mayors, several lawyers and a Human Rights defender were among the 151 leaders and activists on trial at Diyabekir, charged with separatism and membership of the KCK. The mayors have already been in detention for 10 months, 53 others of the accused for 18 months while throughout the country nearly 1,000 members of the DTP or the BDP, also suspected of membership if the KCK are in “provisional detention”.
Muharrem Erbey, Vice President of the Human Rights Association and President of its Diyarbekir branch, arrested in December 2009 for membership of the KCK, is also still in detention. Vetha Aydin, president of the Siirt branch of the same Association was arrested in March on the same charge and is also still imprisoned at the moment of writing.
Police violence remains a problem, especially during demonstrations and the ensuing arrests. Torture and ill treatment in detention have declined.
Gendarmes have shot down at least 9 smugglers in the border towns of Van, Sirnal and Urfa.
At this time a retired colonel and some “village guards” and informers are on trial for the murder of 20 people in Cizre between 1993 and 1995,
Between imprisonment for crimes of opinion and executions nothing has improved — nor has the way prisoners are treated.
In 2010, Farzad Kamangar, Ali Hadarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam Holi and Mehdi Eslamian were hanged on 9 May 2010 at Teheran’s Evin Prison, without their lawyers or their families being informed. Another 16 Kurds have been sentenced to death, charged of being members of an armed movement.
Iran continues to persecute its minorities, both religious, like the Baha’i, the Yarsans or even Sunni Moslems and ethnic, like the Kurds, Arabs, Azeris or Baluchs.
Excision of girls is widespread and in November 2010 a report of the Kurdistan Health Ministry gave a figure of 41% or Kurdish women or girls who had been so mutilated. On 6 July 2010, the Kurdistan Union of Moslem Doctors of Law declared, through its Fatwa Commission that Islam does not prescribe this practice, but did not call for it to be banned. The Parliamentary Commission for Women’s Rights has got a Bill passed on family violence that includes excision. The Ministry of Health has also announced plans of public information on the negative consequences of this practice. However, the government has not yet forbidden excision nor has it initiated a real campaign to eradicate it.
On 4 may, “persons unknown” kidnapped, tortured and killedSardasht Osman, a 23-year-old student, Sardasht Osman, who had written for some papers free lance. His family and friends accuse the parties in office of being behind this murder, because of the critical articles he had written. Many complaints by journalist are aimed at the Kurdish security forces, accused of harassment, intimidation, threats and aggressive acts against journalists. Some leading political figures have taken newspapers to court after having been called to question in the press.
No change has been observed in Syria’s repressive practices. The same breaches of human rights directed at political activists and human rights defenders; some Internet sites are censored, bloggers are jailed or forbidden to leave the country
The State of Emergency decreed in 1963 is still in force, allowing the security forces to arrest people without any warrant and keep them in solitary for long periods. The Supreme Security Court sentences Kurdish and Islamist activists in special courts without fair trial. Dozens of Kurdish activists have thus been sentenced to long prison sentences in 2010 mostly for membership of the PYD, a Syrian branch of the PKK, but not only. In April 2010, 4 members of the Yekiti party (that does not propose armed struggle): Yasha Wader, Dilghesh Mamio, Ahmad Darwish an Nazimi Mohammad were sentenced to 5 years in prison for having tried to “amputate Syrian territory”. Three other leading members of Yekiti are being charged with the same offence.
In 2010, an Army judge sentenced Mahmud Safo, a member of the Kurdish Left party, to a year’s jail for “incitement to sectarian conflict” and membership of an banned organisation.
In March, the Aleppo Military Intelligence Services imprisoned Abdel Hafez Abdel Rahman who was a leading member of a (banned) Human Rights association, MAF (rights in Kurdish) together with another activist of the same association, Nadera ’Abdu. The secret services released Abdu while Abdel Rahman was tried for “actions aimed at amputating Syria territory. He has been out on bail since September. His trial is under way.
In April 2010, the authorities freed on bail the writer and politician Ahmad Mustafa Ben Mohammad (known as Pir Rustem) who had been arrested in November 2009 for articles published on Internet (ainsi qu'une autre fois, en mars 2008).
Activists continue to be refused the right to leave the country, such as Redef Mustapha, who leads the Kurdish Committee for Human Rights. Moreover all the Human Rights defence organisations are banned in Syria, the government systematically refusing to register them.
The Syrian political system is particularly severe in its discrimination against Kurds, who make up the largest non-Arab minority in Syria. Amongst them, some 300,000 Kurds are arbitrarily deprived of nationality. Expression of Kurdish identity is forbidden, as is the teaching of Kurdish in the schools.
In March 2010 the security services opened fire on Kurds who were celebrating their New Year in the town of Raqqa so as to disperse them, killing at least one person. In July 9 Kurds accused of having taken part in the Raqqa celebrations were sentenced to 4 months jail for “incitement to sectarian conflicts”.
Ebrahim Saeedi, an Iranian Kurd born in Mahabad, has made his first fiction film,“ Mandoo”, in which e examines the fate of Kurds after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2004.
Mandoo tells the story of Kurds who left Iran for Iraq in 1979l following the Islamic Revolution and their persecution by the new regime, forcing them to live for decades in refugee camps controlled by the Baath party. After 2003, they decided to return to their original homeland. At the same time a cousin Shihan (played by the actress Rojan Mehemed) returns, after 20 years exile, from Sweden where she was a medical practitioner.
Far from encouraging the rest of the family to return to Iran, she tries to persuade them to emigrate to Sweden. She then comes up against the advice of her cousin Shaho, who wishes to fulfil a promise he made to his dying father by taking him back to his native village to die there. The film is thus a kind of road movie on the roads to Iran.
Ebrahim Saeedi had earlier dealt with the fate of these Kurds confined to camps in South Iraq in documentaries. The discovery of mass graves in the same zone had also inspired the filming of “All my mothers” in 2009.
Expressing his Kurdish identity in this way, Ebrahim Saeedi links his personal experience with the film’s plot: “I do not consider myself as belonging to any particular place. Yes, I am a Kurd and I give these people’s point of view because I am linked to them and my characters are born of this people. During the four decades in which I lived in Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan I personally went through many crises, all the ups and downs that the Kurds have experienced and that is why I wanted to tell this tale”.
In the director’s opinion the fall of Saddam has not led to the Kurds being in control of their destiny. “Was it worth while for the Kurds to have passed through so many crisis situations? All I can say is that the Kurds themselves initiated none of these crises. There has always been a third party at the soured of the problems that the Kurds have had to suffer. The family that I film, even in a peaceful journey, constantly has to face crises that are not of their doing”.
This journey is also a symbolic illustration of the history of the Kurdish people: the family, in its journey, has to be on guard against individuals who try, by trickery, to divert them from their route, or be subjected to interrogation by soldiers. In the issue of the future of the Kurds, Ebrahim Saeedi avoids expressing too optimistic a confidence.
“ There is a constant fear with which the Kurds are faced: “what does the future hold? What will it bring?” So far History has constantly repeated itself. As soon as an opportunity was offered to the Kurds, they were stabbed in the back even before they were able to seize it and they found themselves on their own. In the past, the Kurds looked at everything around them with a question mark”. For this reason, according to Saeedi, the Kurdish people have an essential thirst for peace.
Mandoo has been shown at several international film festivals, like that at Dubai last December and the one at Locarno this summer.
We also learnt, on 31 January 2011, of the death of the famous Israeli actor, Josef Shiloash, who died of cancer at the age of 69. Born in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1941, Shiloach had emigrated to Israel with his family at the age of 9. His career as an actor began in 1964 and he has not stopped being filmed since then, either in Israeli films, or on television. Between the years 1980 and 1994 he also acted in films like Rambo3 or Mummty Lives, where he acted with Tony Curtis.
Josef Shiloach played on his origins to refine a polish a character of the “Persian” Jew, speaking with a very strong accent. Leaving his native Kurdistan to land in a camp South of Tel Aviv, he had experience poverty and had to start working very early, instead of studying. It was while working as a cleaner in a cinema that he had developed a passion for the 7th Art and the ambition to become an actor. Josef Shiloach then graduated from the country’s most prestigious film school, Beit Tzvi. It was only then, he said, that he was able to overcome the feeling of exclusion that he had had since childhood, while other children used to go to school.
This early experience of injustice was also, no doubt, the source of his commitment against the occupation to the West Bank and the Gaza strip. In the 80s he even left Israel to live in Paris for a while, not wanting to return to his country until peace was restored. He only returned to Israel in 1991, after the Madrid Conference had started a phase of diplomatic negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbours.