6,000 letters sent to the Canadian government regarding Palestinian Prisoners

Over the last few weeks, almost 6,000 people have taken time to write to Prime Minister Trudeau and Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly with a copy to all members of parliament to let them know their demand for Canada to hold Israel accountable under domestic and international law.

As the Canadian BDS Coalition parliament is back in session in Ottawa, they called to let the elected officials know that you are concerned about ongoing war crimes committed by Israel, including specifically against Palestinian prisoners.

Several Palestinian prisoners are facing an increasingly urgent health crisis as they continue their hunger strike to end administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. These prisoners have been forced to go without food or nutrition in order to seek justice or bring an end to their time behind bars.

Read More: Three Palestinian female prisoners begin hunger strike

“It is important we make Canadian politicians aware of the current situation. Certainly, they will not hear about it in the media,” the Coalition said in a statement.

Realizing there are new members of parliament, it is especially important to remind all our elected officials that Canada, as a high signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is responsible under Article 1 for ensuring the Convention is upheld in all cases, they added.

Read More: Hamas calls for solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and to break siege of Gaza

Regarding prisoners, this means Canada needs to take action to hold Israel accountable when there are no safeguards for proper trial and defense, when prisoners are removed from the occupied territory, when prisoners are not treated humanely and with respect, and when prisoners are treated violently. Regrettably, these are the norm for Palestinian prisoners, and so Canada is responsible under international law to hold Israel accountable for these violations of international law, the Coalition called.

The Coalition stressed that under the Special Economic Measures Act, Canada is also responsible domestically for ensuring sanctions are in place when there is a systemic and gross violation of human rights. Call Canada to put sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law and human rights.

Student Prisoners

Earlier this year, over 350 organizations worldwide including many in Canada endorsed the call #FreePalestinianStudents. 

One Palestinian prisoner who just ended his hunger strike, Miqdad Qawasmeh, is a student jailed without charge or trial, who went without food for 111 days in order to bring his detention to an end. 

Meanwhile, students continue to be arrested and imprisoned on a daily basis for their participation in student activities on their campuses. Even events like book fairs and food sales have been criminalized by the Israeli occupation.

Palestine’s Children and Military Law

On June 18, 2021, Liberal Member of Parliament for Scarborough Center presented a parliamentary petition signed by almost 5,000 people calling for an urgent study by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to review Israel’s treatment of children in Israeli occupied Palestine and compliance with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What is administrative detention?

Administrative detention was first used in Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist regime; it is now used routinely to target Palestinians, especially community leaders, activists, and influential people in their towns, camps and villages.

There are currently approximately 520 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of 4,650 Palestinian political prisoners. These orders are issued by the military and approved by military courts on the basis of “secret evidence”, denied to both Palestinian detainees and their attorneys. Issued for up to six months at a time, they are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians — including minor children — can spend years jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Who are the prisoners on strike?

1.     Hisham Ismail Abu Hawash, 39, from Dura, al-Khalil, has been on hunger strike for 98 days. He has been jailed without charge or trial since October 2020 under Israeli administrative detention. Over multiple arrests, he has spent eight years in Israeli prisons. He is married and the father of four children; his youngest child suffers from kidney failure.

2.     Louay Al-Ashqar, 45, from Saida near Tulkarem, is held in the Jalameh detention center without charge or trial. He has been on hunger strike for 31 days under very harsh conditions after being detained by the Israeli occupation on 5 October 2021. He has previously been jailed for eight years by the Israeli occupation, between administrative detention orders and sentences. He is paralyzed in his left leg after being tortured and beaten by occupation soldiers in 2005 while under interrogation, and his brother, Mohammed al-Ashqar, was murdered by Israeli occupation forces in 2007 in the Negev desert prison.

Israeli occupation soldiers violently attacked prisoners with a purported training exercise inside the prison. When prisoners resisted the violent attack upon them, Israeli repressive units shot Mohammed Ashqar in the head. Later, Israeli commanders and soldiers celebrated the murderous attack as an example of “raising morale,” later posing for photos while joking and laughing.

(Source / 23.12.2021)

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