Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton has joined groups from across Canada in an open statement in support of Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, following condemnation of Falk and calls for his resignation by Conservative MPs Jason Kenney and John Baird. The comments came in response to Falk’s report and call to the UN General Assembly and civil society groups “that the businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted, until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards.” Read the rest of this entry »
The United Church of Canada on May 1 released the report of its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy. The report will be considered by the denomination’s 41st General Council, which meets in Ottawa, August 11–18, 2012. Until that time the working group’s report is not policy of the church, and its proposals are solely recommendations.
Israel/West Bank: Separate and Unequal
Under Discriminatory Policies, Settlers Flourish, Palestinians Suffer
December 19, 2010
(Jerusalem) – Israeli policies in the West Bank harshly discriminate against Palestinian residents, depriving them of basic necessities while providing lavish amenities for Jewish settlements, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report identifies discriminatory practices that have no legitimate security or other justification and calls on Israel, in addition to abiding by its international legal obligation to withdraw the settlements, to end these violations of Palestinians’ rights.
The 166-page report, “Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” shows that Israel operates a two-tier system for the two populations of the West Bank in the large areas where it exercises exclusive control. The report is based on case studies comparing Israel’s starkly different treatment of settlements and next-door Palestinian communities in these areas. It calls on the US and EU member states and on businesses with operations in settlement areas to avoid supporting Israeli settlement policies that are inherently discriminatory and that violate international law.
Read the rest of this entry »
The conduct of the York University administration around the conference “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace” clearly constituted a serious attack on academic freedom. We look forward to a full report on this attack which is currently being investigated by the CAUT.
The “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace” was a scholarly conference designed to elucidate current debates about potential solutions to the current situation in Israel/Palestine. Pro-Israeli advocacy organizations protested against the conference in a manner consistent with their overall strategy of shutting down free expression around Palestine on Canadian campuses. These protests were given undue attention by the York administration, which responded in a way that undermined academic freedom. The conference did go ahead, but organizers were subjected to undue pressure before, during and after the conference. This pressure, and the thinking behind it, is now documented in e-mail correspondence (see links below).
We are deeply concerned that the internal process initiated by the York Administration and presided over by Mr. Frank Iacobucci, former Supreme Court of Canada Judge, does not address these issues properly. We note, in particular, the report’s inattention to the role of the administration in attempting to reshape the conference, despite evidence presented which clearly demonstrates those breaches. Moreover, the Report’s recommendations put special emphasis on “professional responsibility” of faculty members, “civil discourse” and “respect,” which go beyond the generally accepted standards of assessing scholarship, i.e. peer review. These recommendations constitute prior restraint on academic freedom, and as such are a threat to academic freedom. This is all the more so because the Iacobucci Report ignores the context of discussions about academic freedom regarding scholarship on the Middle East, and fails to situate its findings or recommendations in this broader political and intellectual context. This unique context pertaining to Middle Eastern scholarship is one in which scholars are routinely silenced if they are perceived to be critical of Israeli policies.
We urge faculty at York University and across the country to inform themselves about this threat to academic freedom and to take action against it. We encourage scrutiny of the Report from its Terms of Reference through to the Recommendations, and have provided key links below. Frankly, the York University administration is setting a precedent for direct interference in scholarly activities on campus that threatens all of us, and which threatens debate and academic discussion around Palestine in particular. We look forward to working with others to initiate protest actions around this attack on academic freedom.
Read the article in the Globe and Mail.
For details about the violations of academic freedom (including emails that were obtained through FIPPA), visit Fragile Freedom @ York U.
Read the Iacobucci Report.
Visit the “Israel/Palestine”
From February 1 – 5, the University of Alberta International will be hosting International Week 2010. There are two sessions during the week which focus on Palestine, one presented by PSN.
International Solidarity Movements in Palestine:
Reports from the Field
Friday, February 5 (1:00 PM – 1:50 PM)
TELUS Centre 134
Sheryle Carlson, Ev Hamdon and Scott Harris, Palestine Solidarity Network
International solidarity movements continue to play a key role in supporting Palestinian human rights and self-determination. Through photos and short films three Edmontonians who have recently travelled to Palestine to volunteer and work with solidarity movements in the Occupied Territories will explore the reality of the situation in Palestine and the role of Canadian solidarity movements in ensuring human rights for the people of Palestine.
Help us promote the event! Share the Facebook event page with your friends.
Gaza, West Bank and Lebanon Development and Relief Projects
Wednesday, February 3 (4:00 PM – 4:50 PM)
TELUS Centre 236/238
Nathan Deisman and Vanesa Ali, HumanServe International
HumanServe International is an Edmonton-based volunteer group which has been working on development projects with local partners in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon since 1994. Case studies will illustrate Humanserve’s model for creating successful projects, as well as pitfalls encountered when operating outside of this model.
The full program guide for iWeek 2010 is available online.
[Ramallah, 9 November 2009] On Sunday 8 November 2009, a court hearing at Ofer Military Court extended Mohammad Othman’s detention period for another 10 days. It has been 46 days since Mohammad Othman, a long-time human rights defender and activist with the “Grassroots Stop the Wall Campaign”, was arrested at the Allenby Bridge Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank and held for interrogation. On the day of his arrest, 22 September 2009, Mohammad was on his way back to Ramallah from an advocacy tour in Norway where he had been engaged in a number of speaking events.
Barring Mohammad from Access to his Attorney
On 1 November 2009, military court prosecutors requested that Mohammad be barred from meeting with his lawyers until his next court hearing, which was scheduled for 8 November 2009. Before this request, Mohammad’s lawyers visited regularly and constituted his only contact with the outside world, except for occasional visits by ICRC delegates. The court hearing deciding on the prosecution’s request took place at Salem Military Court the following day, 2 November 2009, without Mohammad or his lawyer present. Addameer, which is representing Mohammad before the military courts, was neither informed of the prosecution’s request nor of the court’s subsequent decision to implement the ban on lawyers’ visits.
The ban was only discovered on 4 November 2009, when Addameer attorney Samer Sam’an was forbidden from visiting Mohammad upon Sam’an’s arrival to Kishon detention center for a regular visit aiming at monitoring Mohammad’s health and detention conditions. That same day, Adv. Sam’an also learned that Mohammad had been transferred to Ohalei Keidar prison, located in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
On 5 November 2009, Addameer filed an appeal to challenge the court’s decision barring Mohammad from access to his lawyers. At the appeal hearing held on 8 November, the Military Court of Appeals judge stated that Addameer must appeal the ban directly to the Israeli High Court as the Appeals Court lacked jurisdiction over such matters. Although Addameer recognizes that the judge’s recommendation is the usual procedure under Israeli military orders, as Mohammad Othman’s attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, argued before the Appeals Court, orders barring a detainee from access to his lawyer are typically issued as an administrative measure at the very early stages of an individual’s detention, and typically not later than after the first week. Moreover, in Addameer’s experience, there has never been a case where a ban on lawyers’ visits was implemented by a court’s decision, 46 days into the interrogation. Addameer is thus tremendously alarmed, and fears that the ban on lawyers’ visits is yet another step to isolate Mohammad and coerce him into giving a false confession about crimes he has not committed after the interrogation police’s strategy of threats, intimidation, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, physical and mental exhaustion has failed. There is reason to believe that Mohammad Othman’s transfer to Ohalei Keidar prison in Beersheba was intended to exert further pressure on him by placing him in so-called “collaborators’ cells”. Torture and ill-treatment in such cells is widespread and known to occur in some sections of Ohalei Keidar, where detainees are often beaten, punched, threatened and exposed to psychological pressure if they refuse to talk to other prisoners, who are detained in the same cells and who are typically collaborating with Israeli military authorities.
Addameer is also alarmed that, at the appeal hearing, the judge of the Military Court of Appeals decided that Mohammad’s hearing regarding the extension of his detention would take place in his absence for “the sake of the interrogation”. Because Mohammad is now barred from access to lawyers’ visits, and Addameer attorneys have not seen him since 1 November, yesterday’s court hearing was the only opportunity for both Addameer and Mohammad’s family to ensure that he is in good health. However, as Mohammad was not brought to the hearing, Addameer remains extremely concerned about his health including his physical and mental well-being, especially given the high likelihood that he is being exposed to ill-treatment in Ohalei Keidar.
Extension of Detention Hearing
A few hours after the appeal hearing on 8 November 2009, another court hearing took place to decide on Mohammad’s extension of detention period. This was the sixth hearing regarding the extension of Mohammad’s detention since his arrest on 22 September 2009. Again, as in previous hearings, no charges were laid against Mohammad and no external evidence was brought to the court’s attention. As in previous hearings, the military court again justified its decision to extend Mohammad’s detention period stating that it was needed for further interrogation. At the same time, the military judge also extended Mohammad’s ban on access to lawyers’ visits until 15 November 2009, contending that such a ban was necessary for the sake of the interrogation.
During the hearing, Mohammad’s attorney Mahmoud Hassan argued yet again that the arrest of individuals based on reasonable suspicions is admissible only in the beginning of an individual’s detention. However, as Adv. Hassan argued, after 46 days of detention allegedly for the purpose of interrogation, such suspicions must be substantiated and supplemented by external evidence if any fair trial standards are to be upheld. Information on Mohammad’s interrogation gathered before his transfer to Ohalei Keidar casts serious doubt as to whether his ongoing detention is based on valid reasoning or the pursuit of credible evidence. For example, while held at Kishon detention center, Mohammad was subjected to long interrogation sessions where he was kept in the same position for long hours, yet the Israeli interrogators continued to ask few, if any, questions at all. In another example, on 27 October 2009, Mohammad was interrogated for more than nine hours in two separate sessions. The first session took place from 8:10 a.m. until 9:20 a.m., whereas the second started at 9:45 a.m. and did not end until 5:45 p.m. Despite the marathon, nine hour interrogation session, the Israeli interrogators wrote only a two page report.
Addameer and Stop the Wall’s Position
Considering that, 46 days after Mohammad’s arrest, Israeli authorities have still been unable to cite any legitimate suspicions or allegations to justify his detention, both Addameer and Stop the Wall contend that Mohammad’s arrest was arbitrary and therefore illegal under applicable international law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Addameer and Stop the Wall also reaffirm their previously stated position that Mohammad was arrested because of his high-profile advocacy work, both locally and internationally, as a human rights defender voicing opposition to Israel’s ongoing human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, including those resulting from the continuing, illegal construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank.
The protection of human rights defenders is not only a moral obligation, but has been recognized by the United Nations as a social, individual and collective right and responsibility. Addameer and Stop the Wall thus urge foreign government officials, including members of foreign representative offices to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and foreign Consulates in East Jerusalem, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, human rights organizations and United Nations bodies to:
• Raise Mohammad Othman’s case in their official meetings with Israeli officials;
• Demand clarifications regarding the reason for Mohammad’s arrest and extended detention in official letters addressed to Israeli authorities;
• Demand Mohammad’s immediate release and pressure Israel to put an end to its policy of arbitrary detention.
In addition, Addameer and Stop the Wall urge the International Committee of the Red Cross to increase their visits and request to see Mohammad more frequently to grant him special protection, especially as he remains barred from access to lawyers’ visits.
For updates and to take action for Mohammad, visit the Free Mohammad Othman blog.
For more information about Mohammad’s arrest, please refer previous statements and updates on the case issued by Addameer and Stop the Wall, or directly contact:
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0446 / 297 0136
Stop the Wall Campaign
The following statement was issued by Palestinian civil society organizations on October 3, 2009:
Yesterday, 2 October 2009, the Palestinian leadership—under heavy international pressure lead by the United States—deferred the draft proposal at the Human Rights Council endorsing all the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission (the Goldstone Report). This deferral denies the Palestinian peoples’ right to an effective judicial remedy and the equal protection of the law. It represents the triumph of politics over human rights. It is an insult to all victims and a rejection of their rights.
The crimes documented in the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission represent the most serious violations of international law; Justice Goldstone concluded that there was evidence to indicate that crimes against humanity may have been committed in the Gaza Strip. Violations of international law continue to this day, inter alia, through the continuing Israeli-imposed illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. The findings of the Mission confirmed earlier investigations conducted by independent Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations.
The injustice that has now been brought upon Palestinians has been brought upon everyone on this globe. International human rights and humanitarian law are not subject to discrimination, they are not dependent on nationality, religion, or political affiliation. International human rights and humanitarian law apply universally to all human beings.
The rule of law is intended to protect individuals, to guarantee their fundamental rights. Yet, if the rule of law is to be respected it must be enforced. World history, and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land has shown us that as long as impunity persists, the law will continue to be violated; innocent civilians will continue to suffer the horrific consequences.
Justice delayed is justice denied. All victims have a legitimate right to an effective judicial remedy, and the equal protection of the law. These rights are universal: they are not subject to political considerations. In the nine months since Operation Cast Lead, no effective judicial investigations have been conducted into the conflict. Impunity prevails. In such situations, international law demands recourse to international judicial mechanisms. Victims’ rights must be upheld. Those responsible must be held to account.
The belief that accountability and the rule of law can be brushed aside in the pursuit of peace is misguided. History has taught us time and time again, that sustainable peace can only be built on human rights, on justice, and the rule of law. For many years in Palestine international law, and the rule of law, has been sacrificed in the name of politics, and cast aside in favor of the peace process. This approach has been tried, and it has failed: the occupation has been solidified, illegal settlements have continued to expand, the right to self-determination has been denied; innocent civilians suffer the horrific consequences. It is now time to pursue justice, and a peace built on a foundation of human rights, dignity, and the rule of law. In Justice Goldstone’s words, there is no peace without justice.
As human rights organizations we strongly condemn the Palestinian leaderships’ decision to defer the proposal endorsing all the recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission, and the pressure exerted by certain members of the international community. Such pressure is in conflict with States’ international obligations, and is an insult to the Palestinian people.
As human rights organizations concerned with rights and justice, we declare that we will double our efforts to seek justice for the victims of the violations of human rights and international law in oPt [Occupied Palestinian Territory] without delay.
Undersigned organizations: Adalah, Addameer, Aldameer, Al Haq, Al Mezan, Badil, Civic Coalition for Jerusalem, DCI-Palestine, ENSAN Centre, Independent Commission for Human Rights, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling.