(Source: mail / 06.12.2013)
(Source: mail / 06.12.2013)
They could seize this chance to deter future abuses tomorrow by giving the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction.
Palestine first lodged a declaration seeking ICC jurisdiction in late January 2009, after the devastating 22-day Gaza conflict that started the month before. In April 2012 the then-ICC prosecutor stopped considering Palestine’s declaration, stating that he couldn’t decide whether Palestine was a “state,” a necessary condition for jurisdiction.
But in November 2012, the UN General Assembly resolved the matter by voting to admit Palestine as a “non-member observer state.” Soon after the UN upgrade, the current prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said that the “ball is now in the court of Palestine” to seek the court’s jurisdiction.
The prosecutor has placed the onus on Palestinian leaders to actively pursue the court’s jurisdiction anew, by either formally becoming a member of the ICC or filing a new declaration recognizing the court’s jurisdiction. Palestine could seek jurisdiction starting from any date since 2002 when the court opened its doors.
Why isn’t Palestine playing ball in The Hague? Those responsible for rocket launches from Gaza targeting Israeli population centers could be held criminally responsible at the ICC, but that should not deter the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah from seeking the court’s jurisdiction, since it has stated that it is against such attacks.
The main reason, current and former Palestinian officials say, is that Israel has threatened unspecified retaliation if it seeks the court’s jurisdiction, and the US has reinforced the threat. As a former Palestinian legal adviser told me, “The US said to us clearly, conveying Israel’s position, ‘Don’t touch it.’” US Secretary of State John Kerry said during his Senate confirmation hearings that the US was “very, very strongly against” any “effort to take Israel for instance … to the ICC.”
Other countries that, as ICC members, should be pushing for universal ratification of the court’s statute – including the UK, France, and most recently recently Canada – have instead also pressured Palestine not to seek justice through the ICC.
The Israeli and US threats cannot be taken lightly, given Israel’s control over Palestinians’ lives – at checkpoints, border crossings, and during arrest raids in their homes – and the Palestinian economy’s heavy reliance on foreign donations, including from the US.
But the consequences should be weighed against the alternative – impunity for crimes fueling further abuses. The ICC’s jurisdiction would cover serious crimes under international law on Palestinian territory by all parties, such as widespread torture, or indiscriminate attacks on civilians whether committed by Palestinian armed groups or the Israeli military.
Notably, the ICC’s statute categorizes the “direct or indirect” transfer of civilians by an occupying power into occupied territory – like the Israeli government’s transfer of Jewish citizens into the settlements – as a war crime. Another war crime under the statute is the “forcible transfer” of protected people in an occupied territory off their lands, such as by demolishing their homes and preventing them from returning.
Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel came to power in 2009, construction has begun on 8,575 settlement homes. Israeli demolitions during the same period left more than 4,000 Palestinians homeless. Both trends are accelerating. There were 1,708 settlement housing starts in the first half of 2013, up by 70 percent over the same period in 2012, and demolitions have left 933 Palestinians homeless so far this year, up from 886 in all of 2012.
Palestinian leaders have said they would seek ICC jurisdiction at the present time if – and apparently only if – Israel builds settlements in the so-called E1 area just east of Jerusalem, which many analysts say would effectively cut the West Bank in half.
But settlement-building is not only relevant to a future two-state solution: it takes a terrible, daily toll on people’s lives. Israel has granted settlements jurisdiction over 39 percent of the entire West Bank, making those areas off-limits to Palestinians who own land there or traditionally had access for farming and raising livestock. Meanwhile, as an Israeli rights group recently reported, the area used for settlement agriculture has increased by 35 percent since 1997, to 9,300 hectares. Some Palestinian farmers have no recourse but to lease land from settlers, who got it from Israel for free.
Israel, the US, and other countries have justified their calls for Palestine not to use its new UN status to pursue ICC jurisdiction by claiming it would undermine peace negotiations. But during 20 years of on-and-off negotiations, impunity for rights abuses and laws-of-war violations has fueled animosity and made negotiators’ jobs more difficult. The absence of credible accountability mechanisms has hardly proven an advantage in bringing the conflict to an end.
Potential ICC involvement could change the political calculus of those responsible for such violations by sending a clear message that the commission of grave crimes will lead to serious consequences.
Palestinian leaders are under pressure, but they have not publicly pushed back and made the case that seeking the ICC’s jurisdiction would serve justice and perhaps assist peace talks. They have not explained why they feel unable even to actively seek the ICC’s jurisdiction.
If the ICC has jurisdiction, the prosecutor can open an investigation of her own accord, but that seems highly unlikely. If Palestine became a member of the court, it’s far more probable that it would need to take a second step and ask the prosecutor to investigate. But taking the first step of seeking jurisdiction could still ratchet up pressure against impunity for serious crimes.
It’s time for the Palestinian leadership to inform its public about how it is keeping the accountability ball in play.
The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will visit Israel next week to boost economic cooperation between it and the Netherlands.
Rutte and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu will use the opportunity to officially launch the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum (NICF).
The Dutch government officially discourages Dutch businesses from investing in or providing services to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. It has made a commitment not to provide assistance to Dutch companies that want to engage in settlement activities.
“This is incomprehensible and unacceptable,” said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In a 3 December press release, Ashrawi urged the Dutch government to exclude companies active in the settlements from the NICF.
In December 2012, the European Union expressed its commitment to ensure that all agreements with the State of Israel do not apply to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza or the Golan Heights.
Ashrawi has complained that Mekorot “expropriates Palestinian water resources, discriminates in supplying water to Palestinians as opposed to settlers, and charges us for our own water.”
In a March 2013 report, the Netherlands Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), a well-respected independent advisory body to the government and parliament, urged the authorities to “actively discourage Dutch and European companies from doing business with Israeli companies in the settlements.”
The government wrote in an official response that it “discourages economic relations between Dutch companies and companies operating in settlements in the occupied territories. Dutch government institutions perform no services for companies operating in Israeli settlements. The embassy in Tel Aviv provides Dutch companies with information about issues of international law, with respect to doing business in the occupied territories. Where necessary Dutch companies are held to account for their actions.”
Meanwhile, 13 professors of international law from or based in The Netherlands have signed a letter, calling on the government to ensure the NICF will not support activities in Israeli settlements.
Palestinian human rights activists have previously taken action against a Dutch firm Riwal over its role in the construction of Israel’s wall in the West Bank. If the Dutch government does not live up to its legal obligations by preventing business with Israeli companies operating in the West Bank, it may face other criminal investigations.
(Source / 04.12.2013)
John Kerry, seen with Benjamin Netanyahu, has an opportunity to help lay the ground for a just future.
It is 12 June 1986 and South African President P.W. Botha is calling for war. Malan describes him as “wagging his authoritarian finger,” “speaking in Afrikaans to Afrikaners.”
“There comes a time,” Botha says in a statement broadcast on national television, “when a nation must choose between war and a dishonorable, fearful peace, and we have arrived at that point.”
In describing what led Botha to declare this war, Malan writes: “His policies had set the stage for a black rebellion, and his ruthless attempts to quell it had triggered a furious outcry in the outside world. He had lost the battle for world opinion, and he was losing the fight to stave off sanctions. He was even losing his right wing.
“Fractious right-wing elements were forming vigilante groups, demanding shoot-on-site curfews and throwing government supporters through plate glass windows at stormy rallies. The white right wanted their government to unglove the iron fist and put blacks in their place, once and for all.”
If we could look into a crystal ball and see five or seven years from now, we would see an older Benjamin Netanyahu still a prime minister trying to hold on. In a televised appearance, he would warn Palestinians to beware the true might of the state of Israel. He would warn them not to mess with the Jewish state, not to tempt fate and fight the descendants of the Maccabees and the Zealots of Masada.
By then there will be a solid Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. A UN report from August 2012 predicts that by 2020 an additional 500,000 people will be living in Gaza alone, bringing the population of the Strip to 2.1 million people.
If US Secretary of State John Kerry had any sense he would act now to avert a looming disaster. He would lay the groundwork to a peaceful transition of power from the exclusive Jewish-Zionist regime to a democratically elected government that represents all people living in Palestine/Israel.
He would explain to the current Israeli regime that it is time to free all political prisoners, lift the siege on Gaza and plan for free and fair elections where all Palestinians and Israelis vote as equals, one person one vote. Kerry would explain that voting districts should be created, so that elected officials will be answerable to their constituents and that the entire political structure needs to be amended to accommodate the new reality of a bi-national, democratic state of Palestine/Israel.
Perhaps John Kerry doesn’t realize that a global intifada is already underway.
That the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel is growing in popularity and its successes are encouraging and bolstering its support; that pro-Palestinian student groups on campuses in the US and elsewhere are growing and becoming bolder and more influential; that churches in the US are organizing tours to the holy land, not for the sake of pilgrimage to holy sites, but rather to help the Palestinian cause; that the debate on a single democracy has gone from “if” to “how” and “how soon.”
Perhaps John Kerry isn’t aware that Palestinian youth are no longer interested in a small state in what used to be the West Bank.
Popular resistance in the West Bank and Gaza is growing in popularity and demanding a free Palestine, not just a free West Bank. Palestinians in Israel identify with the larger Palestinian cause, carry Palestinian flags and no longer refer to themselves as “Israeli Arabs” — a term coined by Israel to strip them of their identity.
Perhaps Kerry doesn’t know that “occupied Palestine” refers once again to the occupation that began in 1948 and Palestinians demand their right to live and work, study, travel and return to every part of Palestine.
Someone should tell John Kerry that a free, democratic Palestine, with equal rights will not only free Palestinians, it will also free Israelis. Their prime minster may be a Palestinian and their children will go to school with Palestinian children and everyone will be better off.
Someone ought to suggest to John Kerry that rather than beat the dead horse of negotiations between an uncompromising, brutally racist Israeli government and a defunctPalestinian Authority, he can actually do something good and bring about change. We can avoid the uncertainty, the potential for greater violence and suffering.
Rian Malan’s book ends prior to the fall of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. But we know how apartheid in South Africa ended. On 2 February 1990, F.W. De Klerk announced the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the South African Communist Party.
Now, as we look into our crystal ball, we may see an older and more weary Netanyahu, or perhaps a younger, fresher, though no less Zionist Israeli politician, forced to announce the release of Palestinian political prisoners and the unbanning of all Palestinian political parties in preparation for the establishment of a new democratic state in Palestine.
(Source / 03.12.2013)
A sunset seen in Gaza City.
There’s a fair level of paranoia that the old Mubarak regime and the current military government have tapped into whenever they need to rally national support. Naturally, it happens at the great expense of Palestinians from Gaza who turn to Egypt as a safe and even friendly escape from the troubles of the occupation.
I hadn’t been aware of this problem until I arrived in Cairo this past summer. I was on my way to Gaza, alone this time because my mother and sister had managed to squeeze through Egypt’s border with Palestine two weeks before me.
With the Egyptian coup in full swing, my fate was up in the air. Would the Rafah border crossing be open? Would it be closed? Where will I go? What will I do?
The only reason panic didn’t set in was because I was given a clear set of instructions: Unless you are waiting at the border 230 miles away, stay in Cairo’s airport. Do not, under any circumstance, reveal that you are a Palestinian from Gaza.
Admittedly, I had no idea how hiding my identity could possibly protect me, especially since I’ve painted the internet with stories about my family background. But it had to be done. It’s what got me through customs in Cairo and it’s what let me wait without being harassed in the main lobby of the airport until it was safe for me to pass through theSinai.
Late one night after I had made it into the Gaza Strip, my uncle told me why it was important to “be someone else” whenever Egypt faced internal turbulence. One strategy employed repeatedly by the military, which is now in control of the Egyptian government, is to cast doubt over a rival regime’s capacity to run Egypt by painting it as a proxy to advance Palestinian demands at the expense of Egyptian safety and well-being.
Gasoline shortages in Egypt were blamed on Gaza’s “greedy thirst” for the fuel. Egypt’s deteriorating power grid was blamed on Gaza’s need for electricity to compensate for its daily power outages. Banditry in the Sinai was blamed on Gazans for traveling along that route.
Incitement against Palestinians, specifically those from Gaza, feeds into the fervor that accompanies Egypt’s turmoil. Hiding one’s identity is nothing more than a reflexive and self-sustaining measure.
As I sat next to my uncle, sipping tea with mint on the roof of a building in central Gaza City, we were joined by three other men who shared very similar concerns. I asked them for stories, and although they laughed about their experiences in hindsight, I knew they would never wish to be put in those situations again.
One man’s story began in a café on Fouad Street in Cairo two years ago. He was enjoying coffee with an Egyptian friend of his one afternoon when two police officers, armed with batons, weaved through the tables.
The man’s friend quickly told him to lose the accent. To the average non-native speaker, the man’s impression of the Egyptian dialect was impressive. But fearing he’d be caught, he switched to a more natural madani accent from Ramallah.
The officers greeted the two men but could not sustain a conversation. It was clear they were fishing for foreigners, but what for? They asked the man and his friend where they were from.
“Here, Cairo,” said the friend. “Ramallah, for business,” said the man, pointing back to his friend.
The officers gave them a nod and silently left the scene in that stereotypical way an investigator does when his work is finished. The café manager ushered the man and his friend out — “We don’t want trouble!” — and together they quickly took a taxi to a hotel where they waited all evening until the man from Gaza could arrange a trip back home.
My uncle frequently travels to Egypt for medical care. He carries a Palestinian passport that is too often rejected by whichever border enforcement officer is on duty at the time.
When he’s lucky enough to get in, he feels he has to look over his shoulder until he finds himself within the safe walls of a hospital. Like the man who spoke before him, he’s had run-ins with Egyptian soldiers who seemed unnaturally curious about what he was doing outside of Gaza. In one instance, he recalls, he narrowly missed a beating after telling an enraged policeman that the reason he spoke with a dialectic “g” sound was because he was actually from Jordan.
Another man shared a similar story about a friend who was threatened by Egyptian soldiers that he’d be “thrown” to a “pack” of pro-regime demonstrators who had become fed up with Gaza’s alleged dependence on Egypt.
It was easier for me to hide my identity. I carry an American passport and my Arabic contains linguistic elements from every major Arab subpopulation in the city of Chicago.
When I said I was visiting Egypt as a tourist, the officer at the customs booth almost bought it. But then he looked at my last name, a fairly common one in the Gaza Strip, and made me wait. He radioed a command and consulted the officer next to him. All of the other lines seemed to move so fast now, and the man behind me impatiently breathing down my neck was doing nothing to ease my anxiety.
The officer kept asking what I was planning on doing. I told him that I had come to Egypt purely for vacation purposes now that I had graduated from school.
The Rafah border crossing had opened the previous day after being closed for almost two entire weeks since the coup. But I didn’t want him to know that I was aware of that.
So when he asked me to respond in Arabic, I pretended I didn’t know how. I was just a tourist.
Luckily, neither I nor my uncle had been the victim of any violence in Egypt as a result of our backgrounds. But not everyone is as lucky. In the weeks preceding this rooftop conversation, Palestinians from Gaza were being thrown into dingy holding cells underneath Cairo’s old airport as part of the military regime’s renewed policy to keep any and all Palestinians out.
My aunt, for example, was one of dozens of Muslim pilgrims from Gaza who performedumrah (pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia just before the coup. She was due in Gaza about two weeks before I was due to arrive, but because of Egypt’s airlines policy, the flight she booked took off without her.
She was stranded in a foreign country with no direct line of support. Those who had managed to board planes were promptly thrown underground until they could afford a flight out. It was the most dehumanizing experience.
I was joined by my mother and sister when I left Gaza in July. We spent a few days biding our time in Cairo while avoiding any heated protests. Whenever we took a cab, we put on invisible costumes.
For one cab ride, we were Americans originating from Amman. In another, I was visiting from the West Bank.
In one instance, I mistakenly strayed from the script and revealed that I have family in Gaza. The cab driver mentioned how Gazans were largely responsible for Egypt’s turbulence. I connected eyes with my mother through the rear view mirror and knew that it was time for me to close my mouth.
Anti-Gazan incitement in Egypt exists. It is certainly not the most physical or bloody form of incitement the world has seen.
But that does not justify the discomfort many Palestinians from Gaza feel under the watchful eye of the Egyptian military. That does not justify the scattered beatings and the regular intimidation faced by Palestinians from Gaza by virtue of a few false rumors spread by politicians and corrupt police officers.
Egypt is, for so many, an opportunity to escape the strangulation of Israel’s siege on Gaza. It is supposed to be a friend in the region to a people who have faced dispossession for so many decades. Its people share many values and cultural norms and at different points in history were even governed by the same bodies.
There is nothing more shameful than coercing someone to hide his or her identity as if it is something to be ashamed of. But that is what is happening now and what has been happening for years.
(Source / 02.12.2013)
De bezetting van Palestina door Israël is “het best gedocumenteerde conflict ter wereld”, zegt Inge Neefs in het laatste hoofdstuk van haar boek. ‘Gaza op mijn hoofd’ is dus zeker niet het laatste boek dat er over geschreven wordt.
Analyse, historisch overzicht, feitenmateriaal, je kan het lezen in honderden andere publicaties. Dit boek van Inge Neefs is geen droge analyse, maar een verhaal van gewone mensen, die proberen te leven in de chaos van bezetting en repressie, die ondanks alles proberen normale families te zijn, vrienden op straat, collega’s op het werk, leerlingen op school.
Inge Neefs maakte er een zeer persoonlijk verhaal van. Neutrale objectieve verslaggeving is aan haar niet besteed. Ze trekt zonder omwegen partij voor de onderdrukten, voor de slachtoffers.
De getuigenissen wisselt ze af met haar eigen gevoelens. Ben ik hier wel op mijn plaats? Kijk ik niet door de bril van een westerling die het allemaal zoveel beter weet? Ondertussen zoemen boven de hoofden de drones, als een pemanente dreiging, dag en nacht …
Neefs laat haar getuigen aan het woord zonder tussenbeide te komen, zonder te becommentariëren. Zo is er het verhaal van de visser die binnen de toegestane 3 zeemijl wordt opgepakt door de Israëlische marine, na urenlange ondervragingen wordt vrijgelaten zonder dat er ooit een officiële aanklacht volgt en bij thuiskomst mag vaststellen dat zijn boot – zijn enige broodwinning - in een Israëlische haven aan de ketting ligt.
Families die de pech hebben dicht bij de bufferzone te wonen aan de grens met Israël, riskeren permanent te worden beschoten, zonder enige aanleiding. De witte vlag aan de wasdraad beschermt zelfs de kinderen niet. Ironisch genoeg wonen ze daar omdat alleen daar de huur laag genoeg is – wie het zich kan veroorloven gaat immers verder van de grens weg wonen …
Een van de meest aangrijpende verhalen is dat van een gezin waarvan het huis wordt platgereden door een Israëlische bulldozer, terwijl nog niet alle kinderen het huis uit zijn geraakt. Hun zoontje wordt doodgeschoten in de armen van zijn vader terwijl die hem poogt weg te halen uit de gevarenzone.
Schrijnend is ook de getuigenis van kinderen die door nagelbommen worden geraakt, één van de meest laffe wapens die Israël regelmatig inzet om ‘zijn veiligheid te vrijwaren’. De jonge Rami kan niet meer werken, de scherven in zijn elleboog, rug, buik en linkerbeen kunnen immers niet verwijderd worden. Hij kan Gaza niet verlaten om naar een gespecialiseerde kliniek te gaan …
Een grootvader vertelt over zijn geboortedorpje Al Majdal dat nu Ashkelon heet en vader Abu Fehmi vertelt hoe hij werd opgepakt en gefolterd op verdenking van ‘terrorisme’, de door Israël gebruikte term om elke vorm van verzet – gewapend of niet – te omschrijven. Blijkbaar werd hij door een ander ‘verklikt’, die eveneens werd gefolterd. Een vicieuze cirkel die steeds meer onschuldige Palestijnen meesleurt in de waanzin van deze bezetting.
De ene getuigenis volgt op de andere. Eén ding hebben ze met elkaar gemeen, de wil en de koppigheid om een eigen normaal leven te leiden, om niet toe te geven aan de gruwel van de bezetting.
Neefs spaart in haar boek ook niet de kritiek op de partij aan de macht in Gaza, Hamas, op hun idiote regelneverij die ondermeer verbiedt dat vrouwen alleen op straat komen of met mannen die niet hun broer of echtgenoot zijn.
Voor jongeren in Gaza is het ondertussen niet zonder risico om op internet actief te zijn. Vanuit Israël worden immers doelbewust geveinsde contacten gemanipuleerd, die er toe kunnen leiden dat een onschuldig lijkend contact levensgevaarlijk wordt. Degelijk gerechtelijk onderzoek bestaat niet en een beschuldiging van collaboratie kan tot de doodstraf leiden.
Zelden was een titel zo juist gekozen. Gaza zit in het hoofd van Inge Neefs. De verhalen, de getuigenissen, ze laten je niet los. Wanneer je denkt dat je het ergste wel hebt gelezen, blijkt één verhaal verder een nog gruwelijker aspect van de militaire blokkkade in je hoofd te kruipen.
Wie er nog aan twijfelde of de BDS-actie tegen Israël wel de beste strategie is, heeft met dit pretentieloze boek zijn antwoord. Erger dan dit kan niet. Gaza is een hel. Elke dag wachten, is zoveel meer slachtoffers van blinde repressie.
Toch is dit geen deprimerend boek. Stuk voor stuk hoor je achter de schrijnende verhalen de wil om te leven, om gelukkig te zijn, om gewoon met rust te worden gelaten. Deze gewone menselijke verhalen zeggen zoveel meer dan droge analyses. Dit is een boek dat je niet onberoerd laat, een boek dat ‘in je hoofd’ blijft nazinderen.
(Source / 01.12.2013)
Peaceful protesters holding up signs and chanting are not a threat to national security. The authorities and security officials are a threat to people’s security.
Some people ask me why demonstrations are still taking place and why the “revolutionary youth” are not giving the interim government a chance to implement “the roadmap” to democracy. This assumption fails to recognize that the only people who agreed to this roadmap are those in power; there was no general consensus.
With the Egyptian military’s removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power, local media immediately changed its narrative, de-humanizing in the process the pro-Morsi camp and praising the military that would save Egypt from “terrorism.” Since then they have been downplaying clear attempts by the authorities to stifle the ongoing revolution and to provide further protection for the police force whose brutal tactics provoked the uprising in the first place.
It was only two years ago that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was leading Egypt through its first “transitional period.” During that time thousands of protestors and activists were detained and tried in military courts, young women were subjected to virginity tests – which Sisi, Egypt’s de factoruler, condoned as a necessary step in protecting the army from accusations of rape – peaceful protesters were brutally murdered – the Maspero massacre, theMohamed Mahmoud clashes, and many more. All of these events took place under military rule – the very same military that now supposedly has Egypt’s best interests at heart.
The events of this year have confirmed that nothing has changed since then and that dissent will be crushed. The first clear sign of this was the dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins at Nahda and Rab’aa in mid-August, the latter of which has been called the worst massacre in modern Egyptian history. On a basic human rights level, there should have been uproar at the atrocities that took place. Ironically, the Minister of Interior Morsi had appointed is the same minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, in power now.
On November 24, interim President Adly Mansour officially approved a new protest law granting the Ministry of Interior vast powers. This law requires ‘notification’ (subject to refusal) of the MoI a few days prior to planned demonstrations – defined as any public gathering of more than 10 people.
Violations of this law can result in large fines as well as jail sentences. On the other hand, security forces have the right to gradually increase their use of force on demonstrators, as long as they give prior warning, and to use water cannons, tear gas and clubs.
On November 26 a small number of peaceful protesters convened in front of Egypt’s Upper House (Shura Council) to object to the constitutional committee’s November 20 vote in favour of military trials for civilians. The ‘No to Military Trials’ group have been fighting to ban these trials since 2011; between February and September 2011 alone a supposed 12,000 civilians were on military trial. In this video it is very clear that the ‘No to Military Trials’ demonstration was peaceful. The protesters were not in any way provoking the authorities, even though the Ministry of Interior was quick to accuse them of hurling stones at the police.
The way security officials handled the situation couldn’t have been more indicative of how the police state is alive and well. No safe exit from the demonstration was provided for the protestors, nor were they asked to leave prior to the police dispersal, as stipulated in the protest law. Instead, protesters were water cannoned and seconds later, a number of policemen, some with batons, and some of whom were masked or in plainclothes – in violation of the new law – charged at the protesters and forcefully detained those they could get their hands on. Not only were the #NoMilTrials protesters arrested, but both women and men were sexually assaulted, beaten, stripped and dragged along the ground during these arrests. For pictures, click here.
They were then hurled into a police truck, which apparently drove around central Cairo, and eventually arrived at New Cairo First Police Station. People were able to keep track of them as some had managed to keep their mobile phones and tweeted their whereabouts. Lawyers were not permitted to enter the police station. People had to bring clothes for the detainees, as many of them had had their clothes ripped off.
A number of those arrested are activists who have been at the heart of the uprising since 2011, some of whom won international awards for their work in human rights. According to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression a total of 79 people were detained.
While this was taking place, the Minister of Interior notified the 50-member constitutional committee that the detainees would be released straight away. They also claimed that no women had been detained – but later released a statement saying they had detained female activists, but had returned them to their homes. In fact, a number of the arrested women were later dumped on the Cairo-Upper Egypt desert road, after being assaulted again.
As of today, 24 protesters remain in detention. On November 27 a prosecutorordered the arrest of two leading activists, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Maher. Alaa has announced that he will hand himself over to the authorities on November 30 and released this statement. Ahmed tweeted “The human rights situation in Egypt has become worse than in the Mubarak era, now they arrest anyone trying to think about criticizing the government.”
However, six of the female activists released (dumped in the desert) went on November 27 to the district attorney’s office to turn themselves in, claiming responsibility for calling the protests. They also filed an official complaint against the Ministry of Interior for kidnapping, assaulting them and leaving them in the desert, and demanded the release of those still in detention. “Investigations” are under way.
Many justify the protest law by arguing that authorities in other countries have to be notified prior to demonstrations. But an important point of distinction is that authorities do not then sexually assault or murder detainees, or prevent their access to legal aid, let alone dump them in the desert. The Maspero massacre, for example, had started as an “authorized” peaceful protest, which rather undermines the argument that the use of force on November 26 was justified because it was not an “authorized” protest.
Instead of focusing on the actual crimes being committed across the country – the church drive-by shootings, for example – those in power have decided to focus on suffocating any sign of revolutionary forces. The only problem is that this battle will never end until justice is served. Peaceful protesters holding up signs and chanting are not a threat to national security. The authorities and security officials are a threat to people’s security.
(Source / 28.11.2013)
“Never again for humankind” means supporting Palestinian resistance to Israel’s Prawer Plan.
We hear disturbing reports this year from southern Israel. The Israeli government proposes to relocate some 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their present homes to government-approved townships. This is called the Prawer Plan, and Israel’s parliament approved it by a three-vote majority in June.
The Prawer Plan would destroy 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) region and extinguish Bedouin claims to land seized from them after the foundation of Israel. The government denies basic services to these villages. Right beside them, in many cases, are new, modern, fully serviced communities for Jewish settlers.
Supporters of the Prawer Plan say that it will compensate the Bedouin for their lost lands and improve their economic status. Unconvinced, the European Parliament has condemned the plan and demanded its withdrawal. So has the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Office for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.
This plan has not been negotiated with the Bedouins and does not have their agreement. It is to be imposed on them. Many have called it ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing has been defined by the UN Security Council as the forcible removal by one ethnic or religious group of another such group in a geographic area. When I think of ethnic cleansing, I recall my own experience in France under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.
Much of France was then under Nazi occupation, but the Nazis didn’t ask for these measures. The French authorities volunteered and did it on their own. But soon the Nazis got into the act. They had a vast project — to clear 10 million Jews out of all European countries — not to deport but to exterminate them.
Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.
The French police handed over to the Nazis tens of thousands of Jews and other French people to be sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where they were almost all slaughtered. French authorities tore children from the arms of their mothers, and handed over the mothers to be exterminated.
Then, weeks later, the children were packed into a death train and sent to Auschwitz to also to die there. Among the adult victims was my mother, killed in Auschwitz in 1943.
The Nazis’ goal was to round up, deport and massacre all the Jews in France — as was being done across Europe. The Nazis documented the names, date of birth, country and towns of origin. I know the date and number of the convoy that took my mother to Auschwitz and the day she died there. It was as though they collected human trophies.
But amid this terrible slaughter, an inspiring thing happened. There was a wave of revulsion in France against the treatment of the Jews. Both spontaneously and through organizations, French people made arrangements to protect them.
Altogether, three-quarters of the French Jews escaped the Holocaust. Some 10,000 Jewish children left their families and were hidden. I was among them.
In 1943, a resistance organization took charge of my care and placed me with a peasant family in Auvergne, a farming region in south-central France.
Last month I went back to Auvergne to learn how it was that I had been saved.
I spoke to many people who remembered those years. Auvergne at that time was a land of refuge, a poor region, but one where there was food and much work to be done.
Emma, one of my new friends in Auvergne, told me there were a dozen Muslim refugees from the Soviet Union in her village, conscripted into the Nazi army, and sent to France. They had deserted to join the anti-Nazi resistance.
There were the Roma — the French police rounded up and interned thousands of them. And there were thousands of Jewish refugees in Auvergne, old and young, seeking safety from arrest by French and German authorities.
I met a man who led his community in providing refuge. His name is Robert; he is now 91 years old. When he was 20 years old, he helped hide and protect 130 Jewish persons who had come to seek safety in his little town, Malzieu.
He was ready to lay down his life for them. He showed me an immense wooden wardrobe that he had pushed against a door, behind which there were Jews in hiding.
“How many of the Jews were denounced to the police?” I asked.
“None,” he said.
“So did everyone in Malzieu want the Jews to be there?”
“Not at all,” he said. “Some were anti-Jewish.”
“Why didn’t they denounce the Jews, then?” I asked.
“They may have had resentful thoughts, but they didn’t act on them. They would not act against the feelings of their community.”
So even the anti-Semites, through their silence, aided the resistance.
Recently, the Israeli government offered Robert the medal of the “righteous,” honoring Christians and others who saved many Jewish people. But Robert refused it. “I did nothing special,” he said, “Just the minimum that was my duty. And what we achieved, we did together, as a community.”
Robert exemplifies the tradition of universalism — a spirit of solidarity with all humanity. This is a proud Jewish tradition — the tradition of my family. In terms of Hitler’s Holocaust, its meaning is “never again” — but not just with regard to Jews. It means “never again for humankind.”
After the war, I was an orphan. I left France while still a child and crossed the ocean. Now I am a Canadian, proud of my new life here.
But Canada is now the world’s number one apologist for the Israeli government and its oppression of the Palestinians. What does the Holocaust tell me about the status of Palestine today — and the Prawer Plan?
The sinister Prawer Plan to extinguish Bedouin land rights fits into a pattern of Palestinian dispossession over the last century. It is only the latest step in a process of land theft that has been grinding on for seven decades.
When my parents were born, Palestine was a successful, diverse and tolerant society of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Meanwhile, eastern Europe — tsarist Russia in particular — was wracked by violence against Jews. Many fled the region, and some moved to Palestine.
Among them were my father, when he was a young boy, and his family. But guided by the Zionist movement, these refugees came not as immigrants, to enrich Palestinian society, but as colonial settlers, to displace it: a colonial project of ethnic cleansing.
This was not to my father’s liking, and he moved as a young man to France. Both he and my mother, and most of their Jewish generation in Europe, were skeptical of the Palestine settler project, and sought safety for Jews through social progress in Europe itself.
Step by step, the Zionist project took Palestinian lands, evicting and dispossessing the residents. Then Hitler’s war and Holocaust destroyed forever the Jewish homeland in Poland and neighboring countries. The Jewish survivors searched for a new homeland.
The Canadian government, with the support of many well-intentioned people, thought it proper to grant them a state in Palestine. It seemed only fair, given what the Jews had suffered.
As for the Palestinians, they were callously brushed aside. Indeed the lie was spread that they did not even exist — Palestine was called “a land without people.”
Dispossessing and persecuting Palestinians became a way to atone for Hitler’s crimes. And so we had the Nakba, in 1948, when 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, victims of a new and terrible ethnic cleansing.
The process continues even today. Jewish settlements are imposed on the remaining fragments of Palestinian lands on the West Bank.
Palestinian refugees continue to endure forced exile. Israel wages repeated aggressive wars.
And the Prawer Plan targets remaining Bedouin lands.
And still, today, Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is often justified as necessary to prevent a “second Holocaust” against the Jews. What a lie! The very idea is a monstrosity.
It is the Palestinians who suffer mistreatment, often reminiscent of what Hitler imposed on the Jews. The real threat to Israel’s Jewish population comes from their own government’s cruelty, its apartheid policies, its land grabs, its theft of resources, its long-term drive for ethnic cleansing.
If we have learned one thing from Hitler’s crimes against the Jews, it is that ethnic cleansing, ethnic slaughter and genocide must be opposed today wherever it occurs — and above all in Palestine. To be true to the memory of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and of all Hitler’s victims, we must defend the Palestinians.
We are building a united world campaign to get out the truth about Palestine. Palestinians must have the right to speak up. The media, manipulated by the elite who control Canada, pervasively confront us with a wall of silence. We face continual challenges to the rights granted to us by Canada’s Charter of Rights, free speech and assembly.
Defending the right to speak, discuss and voice an opinion is central to our efforts to defend the Palestinians.
During my trip to Auvergne last month, I was struck by the magical power of human solidarity, expressed in a varied and resourceful resistance movement that saved the lives of 10,000 Jewish children, including me. Let that same spirit of solidarity inspire us today in supporting victims of oppression here and worldwide, beginning in Palestine.
As a Jew, I say the Israeli government’s actions are not in my name. As Canadians, we must now tell the government of Stephen Harper that his support for Israeli apartheid is not in our name.
Stand up for the Palestinians. Demand that their right to return to their homelands is upheld; demand that they have equal rights in Israel; demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
Join the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — BDS. It is a nonviolent and democratic way to unite and make Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinians.
Let us call for an end to the Prawer campaign and the dispossession of the Palestinians. Palestine will be free!
(Source / 27.11.2013)
Reports from residents indicate no warrants, verbal reasons, or evidence were presented at time of arrest as some were dragged from their families’ homes or picked up individually on the streets. There are also complaints that bystanders inquiring into these arrests were either arrested or beaten. Consternation arises from strong vocal grievances that though adolescents were solely involved in the malaise, the Jordanian law enforcement arrested adults as well. Such complaints appear legitimate as many testimonies and video evidence augments this claim, which brings into question as to whether the arrests were in fact indiscriminate or not.
On October 9, Wednesday, non-violent protests were held for the release of the detained. One protestor whose son was incarcerated announced that she discovered during a visit to her son that there were signs of torture which seemed as its aim was to provoke confessions.
A second protestor in close proximity to this mother immediately concurred with the former’s statement. Ahmad Amrah, a human rights activist, organized the event in a non-provocative and orderly manner.
He has also been leading the efforts to release the remaining five residents and dispelling the truth of what occurred at Gaza Camp. After the protest, parliamentary member Mohammed Hadeeb castigated another parliamentary constituent Taher Al Masri, over the incident.
Before EID, ten of the sixteen prisoners were released on bail, six remained incarcerated. Interviews with five of the ten released indicated torture in the form of hour long beatings, two continuous days of food and water deprivation with denial of bathroom privileges, and the administering of electrical shock.
One fourteen year old prisoner complained the police discharged a firearm near his feet to induce fear and anxiety. Another sixteen year old prisoner complained an officer took a shoe off his sole and began to slap him in the face many times, ending the malignant crescendo by shoving it into his mouth to near suffocation. This same teenager also stated he was beaten while seated with handcuffs on him. All of the formerly imprisoned maintain their innocence, that they were not asked any questions during the ordeal, and have also indicated that the remaining five in prison have worse injuries including broken teeth and bones.
On Monday, October 21, all but one of the prisoners were released. Allegations of broken teeth and bones were confirmed. All of the recently freed still face a court date in the future. In consideration of the aforementioned circumstances, the prisoners and others of Gaza Camp, are demanding financial compensation for damages, for current charges to be dropped, and a return of their dignity by the Jordanian government delineating the truth to the public behind the recent catastrophe in Gaza Camp.
(Source / 15.11.2013)
“Defiant” and “challenge” are the words that have been prevalent in most foreign media’s description of deposed president Mohammed Morsi’s trial and his refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court trying him during the first session on Monday, November 4. However, the Egyptian newspapers and television stations, both state-owned and private, used the word “hysteria,” and even compared him to Mubarak, whom they said respected the court, unlike Morsi.In fact, these newspapers and television stations began comparing him to Mubarak even before his trial started, as Monday 4 August headlines of the official newspapers read: Al-Ahram “Morsi in Mubarak’s cage,” Algomhuria “Today… Morsi is in Mubarak’s cage.” Moreover, the headlines of private newspapers, such as Al-Youm Al-Sabea “Morsi is in Mubarak’s cage” and Al-Masry Al-Youm “By order of the court: Morsi in Mubarak’s cage.”
The comparison does not only point out the trial venue – the Police Academy that witnessed Mubarak’s first trial and his retrial – which Mubarak is attending while being released but under “house arrest” at Maadi military hospital. His house arrest will expire on 14 November.
It is worth mentioning that Mubarak hasn’t spent a single night in a prison cell, but has gone back and forth between his palace in Sharm el- Sheikh and five-star hospitals in Sharm el-Sheikh, Cairo & Maadi Military Hospital, and the prison hospital.
The purpose of comparing Morsi and Mubarak is to try to draw a mental image that conveys there is no difference between Mubarak, who was in power for 30 years during which he was marred by corruption, oppression, and poverty, and between Morsi, the first civilian president elected democratically after the January 25, 2011 revolution and was only in office for a year, during which he suffered through the legacy of 3 decades of Mubarak’s rule and a fierce war against him by the “Deep State” and all its agencies and institutions that have worked against his rule and towards overthrowing him.
They failed to compare the fact that Mubarak is still on trial for the murder of over 800 Egyptians during the January revolution alone, along with his interior minister, and the fact that Morsi is being tried along with a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of inciting to kill 3 demonstrators and that neither the interior minister at the time, Ahmed Gamal El Din, nor any of the police are being tried with him.
A number of foreign correspondents who attended the hearing described it as a “circus,” while others described it as a “sham” and “politicised.” None of them mentioned the fairness of the trial or that it was an ordinary trial. They did, however, raise questions regarding the reason why the trial was not broadcasted live like Mubarak’s trial. They also questioned the reason behind the failure to list the names of the 8 Brotherhood supporters killed along with the 3 demonstrators killed in the same case outside Ittihadiya Palace on December 5th, and some editorials even mentioned Morsi’s right to reject such a trial.
Furthermore, most of the Western media outlets mentioned that the security forces have killed over 1,000 Egyptian citizens supporting Morsi and legitimacy since the coup and no one has held them accountable or prosecuted them.
Mohamed Salmawy, spokesperson for the committee of 50, which is writing the new constitution, expressed his anger in statements published on Al-Ahram’s website “the Western media’s disrespect of the Egyptians’ will and their interest in Morsi’s statements regarding legitimacy, instead of mocking them like they did with the statements of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during his trial!”
Salmawy did mention the reason or grounds of the comparison between Morsi and Saddam, whether regarding the way they came to power or their rule. It is also worth mentioning that Saddam was tried under the U.S. presence in Iraq. The phrase “the will of the Egyptian people” is used to justify the July 3rd coup which did not expect and is still trying to ignore the will of the people who reject the coup and who are still demonstrating almost on a daily basis, despite the killings, arrests, the closure of the squares, etc.
Moreover, a number of Egyptian officials expressed anger at the Western media because it calls the events that occurred on July 3rd a military coup and reports the killings, arrests, violations of human rights, and the violation of the values behind the January revolution.
Surely the Western media are not Brotherhood members or supporters, and are not necessarily fans of them or their projects, but nowadays professionalism, objectivity, and credibility no longer have a presence in almost all Egyptian media which hates the Muslim Brotherhood and blindly supports anyone against them and wants to eliminate them from political life or even life in general. Some, or many, had even gone as far as justifying the killing, burning, and arresting of thousands and have blamed the victims in defence of the perpetrators.
It is only natural that such media would believe that hating a political party or Egyptian citizens would justify the promotion of lies, fabricated charges, and even killing, burning, and arresting them. They don’t even see anything wrong, and believe it is fair not to broadcast the trial on air, apart from a few seconds of silent footage in which Morsi appeared to be steadfast and perseverant, completely opposite to Mubarak, who was praised by some newspapers for his respect of the court.
In another shot, a number of foreign correspondents inside the court commented – on Twitter and in their published reports of the trial – on the chants of some Egyptian journalists demanding the execution of Morsi instead of providing a trustworthy account of the trial.
Such behaviour during the trial, as well as the spreading and promotion of lies against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not only harm the Muslim Brotherhood, the journalists, and the media, but also violates and infringes on the right of readers and viewers to know the truth, and this goes against the media code of honour and honour in general, as lying and deception is irreconcilable with honour and honesty.
This does not mean no one should criticise Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood or that they have not make any errors while they were in office or otherwise, but criticising any official or citizen should not be in the form of circulating lies and fabricated accusations, especially when they cannot defend themselves or respond to these lies and accusation, which has been the case since the coup.
The media that is against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood has never been concerned with true criticism or truth, and now does not seem to be concerned with justice, but instead, it is interested in revenge and the exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood, which will not happen as they have deluded themselves into thinking. However, this will contribute to the increasing misinformation of the people, and will deepen the hatred and division among the people, which has nothing to do with journalism and media which should be searching and tracking down the truth.
We must challenge the hysteria of lying, misinformation, incitement, and hatred in the media with honesty, professionalism, objectivity, correct news and information, and logic for the sake of this profession, credibility, and for the people who rightfully want to know the truth, not lies.
(Source / 12.11.2013)