Ancient is the establishment of prisons to punish criminals and opponents of the ruling regimes in the world, and the truth is that it is difficult to know its beginning, as it is so ancient, that it was mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, in reference to the imprisonment of the Prophet Joseph, as prisons were mentioned in the Torah that they were present in Jerusalem since the age of Prophet Moses and even before that, and continued to date.
Historically, prisons were not limited to punishing criminals and offenders only, but were and are still affecting activists defending the word of truth and opponents of ruling regimes, who in their view are considered more dangerous than thieves and murderers.
Political detention has been associated throughout history with the beginning of the formation of political power and the emergence of societal contradictions. Any possible departure from the political game of the existing system was and still is, and any attempt of rejection by the governed towards the practices of their ruler leads them to arrest.
From the point of view of Marxists; Political detention is a class issue and an issue entirely linked to the class struggle, and it constitutes one of the manifestations of the prohibition and dictatorship practiced by the ruling class against the ruled, and according to this standpoint, it is a form of political repression practiced by the ruling class against its political opponents in the name of the state apparatus.
Political detention usually aims, in any country, to eliminate opponents or weaken them, to the point where they become unable to oppose or fight the ruling party.
What I would like to highlight in this article is the severe restrictions imposed on intellectuals and political activists, and the injustice they face. Because of their positions and opinions against oppressive and tyrannical regimes. In all repressive countries, an opposition political intellectual hardly escapes being arrested and abused because of his history of struggle.
And in what follows; We mention - as examples - the names of a group of strugglers who who were exposed to repressive regimes with all kinds of torture, by imprisoning them for unimaginably long periods of time. Some of them extended their lives to shake hands with freedom, and some of them died after their release, and some of them are still in prisons, and of course this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Karim Younes: He was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on January 6, 1983, when he was 23 years old, and he was released on January 5, 2023 at the age of 65, after spending 4 decades in Israeli occupation prisons.
Imad Shiha: He was arrested because of his political stances and his affiliation with the Arab Communist Organization. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and he spent about thirty years in the prisons of the Syrian regime, where he entered them in his early twenties (1975) and did not come out until he was fifty, in 2004. He died in 2022 due to his illness with cancer.
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013): He was arrested for treason in 1961, and although he was acquitted, he was arrested again in 1962 on charges of leaving the country illegally, convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, and retried again in 1964 on charges of sabotage. In June 1964, he was convicted, along with many other ANC leaders fighting against apartheid in South Africa, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990, after spending nearly 27 years in prison.
Georges Abdallah, Lebanon: He was arrested in the French city of Lyon in 1984 on charges of possessing forged identification documents, and he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Two years later, the French court re-tried him on charges of illegal possession of weapons and explosives, and he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. In 1987, the French authorities re-tried him again on charges of complicity in “terrorist” acts, participation in the assassination of the second secretary of the Israeli embassy in France and the US military attaché in Paris, and the attempt to kill the US Consul General in Strasbourg, and they sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Ragheed Al-Tatri (former pilot in the Syrian Air Force): More than 40 years have passed since he was arrested by the Syrian authorities, and he is considered the oldest political prisoner in Syria. He was arrested because of his refusal to participate in a bombing campaign against his people in the Syrian governorate of Hama in 1980. His fate is unknown until now.
Abdullah Ocalan (born 1948): founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in 1978. He was arrested in February 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya, and brought to Turkey, where he was imprisoned on Imrali Island in the Sea of Marmara. He was sentenced to death.
The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002 as part of the policy of abolition of the death penalty in Turkey, and an attempt to conform with the laws of the European Union.
A question may come to mind, why do authoritarian regimes not liquidate the political activists imprisoned by them and their sympathizers from human rights and humanitarian organizations and forces?