Palestinian prisoners’ voices should be heard by public

16 Jan 2023 02:26pm
Puan Sri Norma Hashim during an interview with Sinar Daily at the Hashim Centre for Palestine Studies, Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.
Puan Sri Norma Hashim during an interview with Sinar Daily at the Hashim Centre for Palestine Studies, Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA - Coming from the land of prophets, stories of Palestinian prisoners under Israeli occupation are rarely heard by the people outside of the country.

For author Puan Sri Norma Hashim, the prisoners’ personal experiences under Israel’s military occupation needed to be heard by the public to raise awareness of their plight.

In her books “The Prisoners Diaries” (2013), “Dreaming of Freedom - Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak” (2016) and “A Shared Struggle” (2021), Norma conveyed the accounts by former Palestinian prisoners of the Israelis.

She said the books came to the light with the help of Yousef M. Aljamal who translated the stories dictated in Arabic to English.

“It’s a story which is not out in the open, rare and unusual.

“There are a lot of efforts to make it (the stories) into something that could be understood and felt by people outside of Palestine.

“People in Palestine are very used to the issue of prisoners, but people outside do not know what it’s like to have your son arrested on the way to school or have your husband absent from home for many years,” she said during an interview with Sinar Daily on its Fireside Chat programme.

She said she only started to truly know about what was happening in Palestine in 2009, when Israel launched the attack on Gaza.

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That year, she said she and her friends started collecting funds for food aids and reliefs for Palestine before she decided to set up a library in Gaza called the Hashim Sani Library which was named after her late father.

“I was then contacted by an individual from the library, Professor Dr Mahmud Al Fathani and he said there’s a story about Palestinian prisoners who were released in the prisoner exchange in 2011.

“These prisoners had been interviewed in prison for many many years and some as long as 30 years.

“So this is a very touching living story,” she said.

Norma said it was a remarkable experience for her during the process of making the books about Palestinian prisoners.

She said the book that was very significant to her was “The Prisoners’ Diaries” as it was the first book that was published.

“It was a relearning process to get involved into the Palestinians' life,” she said.

Norma added that the books were all equally important and eventually had set the path for her future self.

She said she felt that it was never enough to only send food aid and reliefs to the Palestinians as raising awareness on what was happening to Palestinians under Israeli occupation was crucial too.

“People should have the responsibility to educate and inform (others),” she said.

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