Posts Tagged ‘political prisoners’

Open Letter to Justice Richard Goldstone

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Dear Justice Richard Goldstone,

The recent escalation in the Israeli army incursions into the Gaza strip is of grave concern to us at the Coalition of Women for Peace. The prospect of yet another flare out of large scale violence against civilians is alarming. Your recent comments on the Goldstone report are already interpreted by Israeli officials and the mainstream media channels as complete and full absolution of Israel’s military conduct in its entirety. Yet, the conclusions drawn from your statement with respect to Israel’s conduct during the Cast Lead military campaign and especially its aftermath are not backed by any new facts or findings. This seriously undermines the international, Israeli and Palestinian civil society struggle for accountability and against impunity from grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

You state that “we know more today about what happened in Gaza.” Which new facts have been uncovered? We who monitor the Israeli government and the situation closely on the ground know that no information was brought out to contradict the meticulous documentation of the fact finding mission you headed. In fact, it is the international pressure generated by the publication of the Goldstone report that has forced Israel to launch a significant number of investigations in the first place. These investigations corroborate what the Israeli and Palestinian civil societies already know: Israel systematically fails to conduct thorough and impartial investigations meeting international standards. As a matter of fact, most investigations prompted by the Goldstone report have not been completed yet, and those which have been completed generated only three rather minor indictments of lower rank soldiers. Considering the scope of destruction and the civilians killed during operation Cast Lead, it cannot be said that those responsible for grave violations that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity have been brought to justice.

A key contribution of the Goldstone report to the public comprehension of the Israeli/Palestinian reality has been its readiness to approach seriously the actual context of the outbreak of violence in Gaza. This is the persistent blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip, and its continued control on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The recommendations to Israel – carrying your distinguished signature as a world renowned jurist – clearly addressed the blockade on Gaza, calling on Israel to immediately cease the border closures and allow free passage of goods and people to and from the Strip. The report recommends that Israel release Palestinian political prisoners, and cease actions that limit the expression of dissent by civil society organizations. The innovation of the report was precisely its readiness to acknowledge the overwhelming responsibility of the powerful party in the conflict.

Israel ignored the report and its recommendations, and did not lift the blockade or stop the persecution of Palestinian civilians and human rights defenders. The only notable change in the status quo was the escalation, immediately following the publication of the Goldstone report, of government attacks and the campaign of de-legitimization of human rights organizations and civil society. The Israeli government is currently promoting legislation, which aims at curbing our freedom of expression, freedom of association and basic social and political liberties. This political persecution is further marginalizing and excluding Palestinian and Jewish women in Israel, who oppose the militarized political establishment.     The Goldstone report gave an official international force to the ever increasing demand to hold Israel accountable for grave violations of international law. Your statements undermine the credibility of the United Nations and its ability to effectively enforce international standards of conduct and international humanitarian and human rights law. Now more than ever the stakes are high for those struggling for accountability and against impunity in Israel/Palestine. Your statement raises the stakes further by granting Israel legitimacy it so desperately needs to continue its aggressive campaigns of repression of dissent on the domestic and international front.

Dear Justice Goldstone, we are asking you to do all that is in your power to enable the international community to hold Israeli leaders accountable. Only a serious commitment to accountability, which would end Israel’s impunity can prevent the next war. As it stands now, your statement is already used to justify and legitimize future crimes, even before the next war has started.

Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel)

cwp@coalitionofwomen.org

(עברית) הפגנה לרגל יום האשה בקריאה לשחרור אסירות פוליטיות

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Administrative Detention of Salwa Salah and Sara Siure / Addameer

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Salwa Salah was born on the 10 November 1991. On Thursday June 5, 2008, at around 2 a.m. Salwa Salah (16 and half) was sitting with her family in their home in Bethlehem. The family suddenly heard a loud banging on the door. Salwa’s mother opened the door and was faced with soldiers and the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). A female soldier was present and told Salwa to get dressed. Meanwhile the other soldiers interrogated Salwa’s mother and questioned her about her husband, son and daughter. After finishing interrogating Salwa and her mother, the female soldier handcuffed Salwa’s hands, blindfolded her and forcefully took her to the military jeep. Sara Siureh was born on the 20, November, 1991. On Thursday June 5, 2008, at around 1:30 a.m. Sara Siureh (16 and a half) was in her house with her husband in their family home in Bethlehem. They were suddenly startled to hear a loud banging on the door. Sara’s husband opened the door and was confronted with soldiers and the ISA. They stormed into the house and a female soldier shouted at Sara to get dressed. Sara was dragged out to the military jeep. Both girls are relatives (cousins) and one of the girls is still at school. The ISA claim that the girls are involved in militant activities . They were taken to Telmond Prison and then taken to Ofer Prison where they were interrogated for one hour. In the interrogation they were asked about what they were doing and if they had any relations with any political group. The girls did not confess to anything. After one hour the girls were taken back to Telmond where they spent a couple of days. On the night before going to the Military Court the girls were taken to Ramle prison. There was a female police officer escorting them. Later during a meeting between the girls and Addameer’s lawyer the girls claimed that the female police officer was extremely abusive and was pushing them inside the military jeep. The girls also claim they were searched in a very humiliating way. Both girls are now in Addamoun prison in Israel and are being held with the other Palestinian adult female detainees. Neither of the girls has been allowed any contact with their families since their arrest on the 5th of June 2008. This is the first time that girls under the age of 18 have been put in administrative detention. Their administrative detention orders have been set for four months, with the possibility of an up to 6 month renewal at the end of that period. Administrative detention orders can be renewed indefinitely. An appeal against this decision was lodged and subsequently rejected. The twin principles of proportionality and the duty on a state to take into consideration the child’s well being underline much of the detail found in international law concerning the aims, restrictions and prohibitions on the sentencing of children. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice requires that any reaction to the juvenile offenders should ‘always be in proportion to the circumstances of both the offenders and the offence’. Another fundamental principle of sentencing is that the deprivation of liberty, if used at all, should only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time (Art. 37 (b), CRC). Clearly this is not the case for these two young girls. The Court did not abide by these legal standards laid out for all detained minors. This is the first time that both girls have been in prison.

What is Administrative Detention?

The Israeli authorities can hold people in “administrative detention” without charge or trial, for as long as they wish. They have no intention of bringing such detainees to trial, saying they are a “security risk”. They do not inform the detainees or their lawyers how they have decided these detainees are a security risk. Administrative detention orders are issued by the Military Governor for terms of up to six months, and they are frequently renewed shortly before they expire. This process can be repeated over and over again. The mental suffering caused by not knowing the grounds for detention can amount to torture as defined under the UN Convention Against Torture and such lengthy detentions without charge or trial also constitute ‘arbitrary detention’ which are a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9(1)) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 9). Currently, there are approximately 750 Palestinians now in administrative detention. Of these there are approximately 10 Palestinians under the age of 18 years old.

ACT NOW TO SUPPORT SALWA AND SARAH:

Register your outrage to imprisonment without trial. PLEASE WRITE to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities, demanding that Salwa and Sara be released immediately and that their administrative detention not be renewed. In particular letters should be addressed to Lt. Colonel Sharon Afek Legal Advisor to the Israeli Army in the West Bank Chief Military Attorney. P.O. Box 10482, Beit El, West Bank; Tel: 972-2-997-7071; Mobile: 972-50-551-1782; Fax: 972-2-997-7326. Fax: +972 2 997 7326 Please cc Addameer at addameer@p-ol.comso we can keep track of the letters of support.

Letters can also be addressed to: Mr. Ehud Olmert Prime Minister Office of the Prime Minister 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187 Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919, Israel Fax: +972- 2-651 2631 e-mail: rohm@pmo.gov.il, pm_eng@pmo.gov.il

Mr Daniel Friedmann Minister of Justice Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618

Mr Menachem Mazuz Attorney General Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367

Mr Ehud Barak Minister of Defense Fax: +972 3 697 6218 sar@mod.gov.il

PLEASE WRITE TO the International Bar Association (IBA), asking its members and Human Rights Institute to put pressure on the Israeli Bar Association to ensure that all subjects under Israeli jurisdiction be granted the basic principles of rule of law – transparent processes which do not allow for arbitrary justice or governance – to which the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) claims to be dedicated to: “The HRI is now a leading voice in the promotion of the rule of law worldwide.”

Please send your letters of concern to the Director of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, Fiona Paterson, and copy it the Chairs of the Council, Ambassador Emilio Cardenas (Argentina) and Justice Richard Goldstone (South Africa).

Fiona Paterson Director of Human Rights Institute International Bar Association 10th Floor 1Stephen St London, W1T 1AT United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)20 7691 6868 Fax: +44 (0)20 7691 6544

PLEASE ALSO WRITE TO the European Union urging the EU to pressure Israel to release or charge all prisoners in Administrative Detention and to put an end to such an unjust, arbitrary and barbaric system of incarceration without trial.

Send your letters of appeal to: Personal Representative for Human Rights (CFSP) of the EU Secretary General/ High Representative Javier Solana Ms. Riina Kionka 175 Rue de la Loi BE 1048 Brussels, Belgium Fax. : +32 2 281 61 90 Email : riina.kionka@consilium.europa.eu

The Commissioner for External Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy HE Ms. Benita Ferrero- Waldner Email: relex-enpinfo@ec.europa.eu Or send a comment via ec.europa.eu/external_relations/feedback/question2.htm

Israeli Embassies and Consulates in your own country

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A directory of Israeli embassies can be found on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To access it, please go to the following link: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Sherut/IsraeliAbroad/Continents/

Below is a suggested draft of a letter that can be sent:

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Dear Colonel Afek:
I am writing with regards to the arrest of Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh on June 5, 2008 from the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territories. Both girls are juveniles who should not be tried or treated as an adult.

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Both girls are currently detained in Addamoun Prison inside Israel. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) explicitly states that “[t]he occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Israel signed the convention in 1949.

Under Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, the administrative detention of persons is allowed ‘for imperative reasons of security’. However, for many years the system of administrative detention has been abused by Israel to punish without charge, rather than as an extraordinary and selectively used preventative measure. In addition, the treatment of administrative detainees, including the location and conditions of detention, contravenes not only international human rights standards but also the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. I would like to voice my opposition to the detention of Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh unless they are charged with a recognizable offence and immediately brought to justice in a fair trial according to international standards. Their continued detention is clearly not in their best interest, nor is it in accordance with the articles outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the mean time, I urge you to allow Salwa and Sara to receive regular visits from their family members.


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