[Ppnews] Palestine - No peace without release of political prisoners

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 3 10:19:07 EDT 2011

No peace without release of political prisoners

<http://electronicintifada.net/people/sahar-francis>Sahar Francis
Electronic Intifada

2 May 2011

In Jerusalem, activists perform an action in 
solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners, 
August 2010. (<http://www.activestills.org>ActiveStills)

Palestinian Prisoners Day was marked on 17 April, 
an opportunity for the world to reflect on the 
continuing incarceration and ill-treatment of 
nearly 6,000 political prisoners. On this day, 
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights 
Association, a Palestinian nongovernmental 
organization established in 1992, launched the 
“Prisoners at Risk” Campaign (see 
<http://addameer.info/>Addameer’s website). The 
campaign aims to raise awareness of specific 
cases of serious concern and to mobilize people 
around the world to take action to force Israel 
to abide by its obligations under international 
law and end arbitrary detention.

The first case focuses on Ayed Dudeen, who has 
been in administrative detention since 2007. 
Administrative detention is a procedure that 
allows the Israeli military to hold detainees 
indefinitely on secret evidence without charging 
them or allowing them to stand trial. In the 
occupied West Bank, the Israeli army is 
authorized to issue administrative detention 
orders against Palestinian civilians. The basis 
for this policy is Military Order 1651, which 
empowers military commanders to detain an 
individual for up to six months if they have 
“reasonable grounds to presume that the security 
of the area or public security require the 
detention.” On or just before the expiry date, 
the detention order is frequently renewed and can be continued indefinitely.

On more than one occasion, the military 
prosecution has offered to release Ayed with the 
condition that he be deported to Gaza, despite 
the fact that his entire family lives in the West 
Bank city of Hebron and has absolutely no link to 
the Gaza Strip. Ayed has consistently rejected 
these offers and remains persistent in his 
demands to be released and reunited with his 
family in Hebron, including his six children. 
Ayed and his family have experienced years of 
harassment from the Israeli authorities. He was 
first arrested in 1992 and has spent long periods 
in Israeli prisons, making it increasingly hard 
for him to have a normal relationship with his 
wife and children. This is the second time he has 
been held without charge or trial, having 
previously served an administrative detention 
order of 22 months. Only three months after his 
release, he was arrested again in October 2007 
and placed in administrative detention, where he remains.

Ayed is one of thousands of Palestinian political 
prisoners held in Israeli jails. All were 
detained, sometimes without charge or trial, for 
their resistance to the Israeli occupation and 
its illegal policies and practices. Among this 
number, which has remained consistently high for 
decades, are also more high-profile cases, such 
as Ahmad Qatamesh. One of the longest-held 
administrative detainees, Qatemesh was detained 
for six years in the 1990s. 
Palestinian writer and political scientist was 
recently arrested again on 21 April, and his 
detention appears to be due solely to his 
political opinions; he is now at risk of being 
given another administrative detention order.

There is also Nael Barghouti, the longest-held 
political prisoner, now detained for 33 years. 
Another high-profile case is that of Ahmad 
Sa’adat, Palestinian Legislative Council member 
and leader of the leftist party the Popular Front 
for the Liberation of Palestine, abducted by 
Israeli forces from a Palestinian prison in 2006 
and now serving a thirty-year sentence. But there 
are also lesser-known cases, such as Nelli 
Safadi, a Palestinian woman who spent 48 days 
being interrogated and subjected to torture and 
ill-treatment, including solitary confinement, 
and the dozens of activists against Israel’s wall 
and settlements in the occupied West Bank who are 
arrested each week during or after 
demonstrations, some as young as 14 years old.

The last year has witnessed continuing mass 
arrest campaigns in the villages of Bilin, Nabi 
Saleh and Beit Ommar and the detention of 
high-profile protest organizers and leaders from 
the popular committees. Days after the release of 
Popular Committee Coordinator Abdallah Abu Rahme, 
who had served nearly 16 months in prison, 
another protest organizer ­ 
Tamimi from Nabi Saleh ­ was arrested and is 
currently in detention on trumped up charges 
including incitement, organizing unpermitted 
marches, and obstruction of justice ­ in the 
latter case for informing youths about what to do in case of arrest.

 From the moment of arrest, Palestinians are 
victim to practices which fall far short of 
international standards relative to the treatment 
of prisoners. This includes lengthy interrogation 
which can last up to 188 days before they are 
charged, during which time they are often 
subjected to psychological and physical torture 
to extract a forced confession. Palestinian 
prisoners are also routinely denied access to a 
lawyer for up to ninety days after arrest, are 
held in isolation either as a disciplinary 
measure or on the grounds of state, prison or 
prisoners’ security. Since 2007, Israel has had a 
blanket policy of denying family visits to 684 
prisoners from Gaza. This punitive action has 
also been applied to Palestinian prisoners from 
the West Bank on a case-by-case basis.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights 
Association is following all these cases closely, 
and offering legal aid and counseling as well as 
raising awareness locally and internationally of 
the situation facing political prisoners. We 
remain steadfast in our demand to free all 
political prisoners and end the arbitrary 
practices of the Israeli authorities. Addameer’s 
Prisoners at Risk Campaign is aimed at increasing 
worldwide recognition of and support for 
political prisoners, whether it be through 
sending letters of solidarity to the prisoners, 
writing to the Israeli authorities, or holding 
vigils and demonstrations. We hope the world will 
join us in our call to end impunity and to free 
all political prisoners, as without this there can be no just peace.

Sahar Francis is the Director of Addameer 
Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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