Room No. 4 is an interrogation room in the Russian Compound – the main Israeli police office in Jerusalem – where Palestinian Jerusalem residents, including children, are investigated.
Room No. 4 is where many of the abuses described by Madaa Silwan Creative Center‘s report “The Impact of Child Arrest and Detention” – published in 2012 – take place. The report analyses the findings of 30 interviews with children from Silwan, aged between 7 to 17 years old, who were arrested and detained.
Room No. 4 photography campaign illustrates the reality faced by the children when arrested and detained and is based on the children’s testimonies in the report. All the names of the children have been modified to ensure their protection.
Jawad Siyam (General Manager of Madaa Silwan Creative Center)
Protecting children was one of Madaa Center’s priorities since the day it was established back in 2007. In 2010, the Children Protection Committee was formed through Wadi Hilweh Information Center which came as a result of the frequent assaults and abuses on children by the settlers, their guards and Israeli forces.
Everybody knows that children in the city of Jerusalem and especially in the town of Silwan are deprived of their minimum rights. Schools’ capacities are not enough for the locals of Silwan and the school dropout rate is 52% in Jerusalem and more than 65% in Silwan due to Israeli policies in addition to the lack of secure entertainment places for children.
Children in Silwan get kidnapped and arrested in ways that flagrantly violate the International Charters to protect children. Night arrests, investigating children without the presence of their parents and assaulting and threatening them were a key cause of the poor psychological conditions of children.
Tamer Nafar from DAM (Director and Manager)
To my children Karim and Ram, I always had your picture with me throughout this project. It was very hard to witness a child getting arrested without thinking “what would I do if anybody even touched my son?”. In one of the pictures (when the investigators prevent the parents from being inside the investigation room) I imagined myself outside “Room number 4” and an investigator telling me “you can’t come in”. At this point, I would turn the world upside down. I wish the people would feel the same way in order to stop the criminal acts of the occupation towards our children.
Technology made the world very small and the truth is only one click away, you only need to keep forwarding it to the next person. We developed a special site for this cause. Questions and suggestions are welcomed, excuses are over!
Ashraf Dowani (Photographer)
“The first thing you see when you go to room#4 are hands beating your face” once a child from silwan said. From here came the idea of using unknown hands into the frames, using black background and dramatic lighting creates the perfect mood for the viewer to feel the fear and loneliness of the children when they go to room #4.
As a Palestinian Photographer from Jerusalem, getting involved in a hot issue like Child Arrest in Silwan is part of resistance to me, Delivering messages through photographs is what I do. From there came the connection between this project and me.
Amer Yassin (Lawyer – Wadi Hilwe Silwan Information Center)
Every rule has an exception and Room number 4 is an example. It is the backyard of Al-Maskobyeh detention center where the dirty laundry of this dark place is placed. It is the room where detainees are deprived of their simplest rights guaranteed by the law and charters where sleeping is not guaranteed, body is not maintained and dignity is not preserved.
The entrance of Room number 4 is closed in front of everybody except for the Jailers and “visitors” who are forced to visit and who would not get out until they do their time.
Palestinian Counseling Center (Arresting children and psychological impact)
Hundreds of children get arrested every year in conditions that do not commensurate with their age and that violate the Israeli and International laws. The methods of arrest and its duration, and the investigation and its duration are directly reflected on the behavior and actions of the children as they start acting moody and making nervous movements in addition to becoming impulsive, violent and insurgent. Children also suffer from inwardness which takes several forms such as crying, fear, confusion,complaints about pain and lack of confidence in addition to their sense of insecurity. After children are released, they might suffer from the accumulation of study material and cannot catch up with their fellow students resulting in a dropout from school.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), ratified by the Government of Israel
States Parties shall ensure that:
(…) (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.
1. States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society. (…) .