Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Call From Gaza

Hiyam Noir | uruknet.info, April 13, 2009

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Please forward widely….

Dear Everyone:

Please take a few minutes to read the call-out below from a broad Gaza-based prisoner solidarity campaign made up of a coalition of prisoner rights groups, local and international activists, prisoner families and Ministry of Detainees representatives in Gaza.

Friday April 17th is the international day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. Just over 11,000 are behind bars in occupation prisons inside the apartheid lines and outside the ghetto walls of the West Bank and Gaza.

Prisoners are a community under siege which represents every faction in Palestine. Solidarity between prisoners inside Israeli jails crosses all political borders. They have sacrificed their individual freedom for collective freedom.

From taking direct action to symbolic gestures (in the case if prisoner campaigns, simple visual solidarity gestures drawing public attention to the struggle of prisoners is always effective in keeping memories, spirit and solidarity alive). Please take action this week! And email us about it…
April 17th is the international day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. These over 11,000 men, women and children are ghost prisoners, forgotten by the international community and media which has focused on the systematic and physical psychological torture of prisoners in high profile camps such as Guantanamo Bay but has largely ignored the network of Israel’s ‘Guantanamos’ inside ‘Israel’.

This call comes from Gaza – recognized as a large open air prison and place of punishment and exile for Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank.

Maximum security facilities such as Nufha, Haderim, Jalamy, and Ashkalon , and so-called ‘black sites’ which the Israeli government refuses to acknowledge, hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners. These prisoners are regularly and systematically tortured, denied access to legal representation, family visits, education, shelter, light, essential medical care and medicines.

The ‘Israeli state’ has a policy of administrative detention which means any man, woman or child can be arrested at any time and in any place and incarcerated without trial or access to any alleged evidence held by the intelligence services, for an undetermined and extendable length of time.

The majority of Palestinian men has been and will be arrested and incarcerated at some point in their lives by Israeli occupation forces. Under the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which Israel is a signatory to, Palestinian prisoners should be treated by the occupying forces under the rules applicable to the treatment of civilians in time of war.

Almost all the Palestinian detainees are held in jails away from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip, in violation of international humanitarian law, which bars the removal of detainees to the territory of the occupying power. The ‘Israeli’ military and security forces regularly violate international law and conventions relating to prisoners.

Imprisonment and torture is an intergenerational experience for Palestinians living in Gaza, 1948 Palestine (’Israel’) and the West Bank.

Imprisonment is a core element of the Israeli occupation’s strategy of collective containment and punishment of the Palestinian population – both of those jailed, and their families who suffer their absence and wait for their release. Military resistance fighters, as well as non-militarily active political activists, community organizers, paramedics, doctors, journalists, teachers, and students are regularly jailed under an Israeli legal framework which criminalizes any form of resistance to occupation

The inhumane prison conditions that Palestinian prisoners endure are steadily deteriorating. Following the Gaza massacres, the collective punishment of prisoners from Gaza has accelerated, with prisoners being denied the right to newspapers, radios, phone calls and visits from legal representatives. Gazan prisoners are now being confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day and are being classified as “enemy combatants” further stripping away any rights to legal defense.

Palestinian prisoners are a forgotten community behind bars, often locally referred to as ‘living martyrs’. The prisoner issue is a core part of the Palestinian struggle, whose liberation is as integral to the struggle for justice and peace as the return of refugees, Jerusalem and stolen land.

In Gaza we will be holding a week of activities in solidarity including a marathon through the streets of Gaza in solidarity with our jailed loved ones, a conference of all prisoner advocacy organizations and prisoners’ families, a mass demonstration and a celebration of Palestinian resilience, sacrifice and patience.

In the light of ‘Israel’s’ further shift to the far right, unchallenged impunity, and the intensified humiliation of Palestinian prisoners, we call on the international community to take a stand.

We call for an end to double standards and for international pressure to force ‘Israel’ to adhere to international law.

We call on national representatives, parliamentarians, human rights organizations, trade unions, activists and people of conscience throughout the world to recognize, remember, speak out and protest the treatment of Palestinian prisoners this week.

We hope this week will be the catalyst that sparks long-term campaigns and commitments towards solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

Ahmed A. Alnajjar

Director of International Relations Office

Ministry of Education & Higher Education- Gaza

April 12 2009

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