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Israeli Persecution of Human Rights Lawyer Anas Barghouti
Israeli Persecution of Human Rights Lawyer Anas Barghouti
by Stephen Lendman
Barghouti is a prominent human rights lawyer/defender. Israel targeted him for his activism. More on him below.
In its 2013 World Report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said:
"Serious (Israeli) violations of international human rights and humanitarian law continued in 2012 in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza."
Israel continues to impose "severe restrictions on Palestinians' right to freedom of movement, continued to build unlawful settlements in occupied territory, and arbitrarily detained Palestinians, including children and peaceful protesters."
Israel "impede(s) the rebuilding of Gaza's devastated economy by blocking virtually all exports from Gaza" as well as greatly restricting imports.
"Israel has also barred Gaza residents from traveling to the West Bank. Israel's use of lethal force against Palestinians close to Israel’s border with Gaza deprived them of access to 35 percent of Gaza’s farmland and 85 percent of its fishing waters."
"Israeli authorities took inadequate action against Israeli settlers who injured Palestinians and destroyed or damaged Palestinian mosques, homes, olive trees, cars, and other property. As of September 31, the UN reported 247 such attacks in 2012."
"Settlement building and discriminatory home demolitions" continue.
"Israel maintained onerous restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, including checkpoints, closure obstacles, and the separation barrier."
"Bedouin citizens of Israel who live in 'unrecognized' villages suffered discriminatory home demolitions on the basis that their homes were built illegally."
"Israeli authorities continued to arrest children suspected of criminal offenses, usually stone-throwing, in their homes at night, at gunpoint, question them without a family member or a lawyer present, and coerce them to sign confessions in Hebrew, which they did not understand."
In its 2013 Annual Report, Amnesty International discussed similar Israeli crimes against humanity.
In its latest Annual Report covering 2012, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented ongoing Israeli "systematic violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law."
Israel wouldn't have dared violate these rights so egregiously "had the international community not consistently" turned a blind eye to its worst crimes.
Failure to enforce accountability encourages Israel to commit more crimes with impunity. It does so against nonviolent Palestinian men, women, children, the elderly, disabled and ill.
It does it multiple ways. It's ongoing daily. It violates fundamental international laws including:
• the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols;
• the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
• the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles;
• the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Additional Protocols
• the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;
• the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and
• the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Israel's legal system denies Palestinians justice. Guilt by accusation is enforced. Israeli war criminals are shielded. They remain unaccountable.
Palestinians face daily violations of their right to life, security and fundamental freedoms. They face ongoing threats of arrest, detention, torture, and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Human rights defenders are targeted. Adalah promotes and defends the rights of Israeli Arab citizens. It does heroic work.
European Jewish Congress head Moshe Kantor called it "an extremist organization on the margins of society." Its political agenda is "radical."
It aims "to change the nature of the state of Israel. (It) work(s) alongside some of the most radical elements in the region."
In 2012, Adalah founder Hassan Jabareen won the Herman Schwartz Award for Law and Social Justice as well as the Human Rights Defender Prize.
In October, PCHR director Raji Sourani won the Right Livelihood Award. It's called the Alternative Nobel Prize. It honored Sourani for "his determination to defend the principles of rule of law and human rights in extremely difficult circumstances."
Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders are vulnerable. Awards don't shield them from ruthless Israeli treatment.
Institutionalized racism defines daily life. Earlier articles discussed daily Kristallnacht in Palestine. It's mirrors some of the worst abuses Jews endured in Nazi Germany.
Life in Occupied Palestine is a daily struggle to survive. State terror is official Israeli policy. No one's safe from arrests, beatings, detention, torture and imprisonment.
Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish in Israel's gulag. It's one of the world's worse. Praying to the wrong God is considered terrorism.
So is wanting to live free in their own land. Israel violates the letter and spirit of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Francis Boyle calls Palestinians victims under its provisions.
Article 2 states:
"In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or inpart;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Boyle calls "Israel's genocide policy against the Palestinians unremitting." It's especially "intens(e)" against 1.7 million Gazans.
Crimes consistent with the definition of genocide persisted since 1948. They remain ongoing. They target Palestinians for their faith, ethnicity and activism.
Israel goes all out to crush resistance. Human rights defenders are especially vulnerable.
On September 15, Israeli soldiers unjustly arrested Barghouti. They did so at a military checkpoint between Bethlehem and Ramallah.
Local residents call it the "container." Palestinians detained end up imprisoned. Barghouti was initially held uncharged for nine days. He was isolated on his own out of touch. He underwent brutalizing interrogation.
Colleague Randa Wahbe said "(h)e really is a human rights defender. He is well loved, and he is constantly working" privately and pro bono for Addameer since 2009.
Its web site reported his arrest. He was one of the first lawyers to defend PA-held political prisoners. He's a prominent activist. He works on behalf of Israeli-held detainees.
Addameer's Legal Unit head Mahmoud Hassan said he endured deplorable conditions at Etzion settlement interrogation center.
He was mistreated. During his first 36 hours, he got two meals mostly unfit to eat. He wasn't allowed to shower, change clothes or have personal hygiene products.
Addameer denounced his arrest and appalling treatment. Israel criminalizes human rights defenders. They're held on trumped up charges.
They're pronounced guilty by accusation. They're imprisoned for doing the right thing. They're held administratively without charge or trial.
On March 8, 1999, UN Resolution 53/144 was adopted. It took 14 years of negotiations to approve its provisions.
It's formally titled the "Declaration of the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms."
It's commonly called the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. It codifies standards protecting them. It recognizes the importance and legitimacy of their advocacy.
Anyone promoting and/or working to protect human rights is considered a defender. Professionals and others are included.
Rights protected include free expression, association, assembly, movement, food and water, healthcare, education, adequate housing, a proper defense and to provide one, as well as many others.
Nations are legally bound to observe all Declaration provisions. They're required to protect human rights defenders from violence, retaliation, and intimidation resulting from their work.
UN Fact Sheet No. 29 is titled "Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights."
It was prepared to support human rights defenders. It addresses state authorities, national and international NGOs, UN personnel, major private sector elements, the general public, as well as human rights defenders themselves.
It says "everyone has a responsibility to promote and protect human rights." It encourages more people to do so.
On October 24, Amnesty International UK (AI) headlined "Israel must drop charges against Palestinian lawyer Anas Barghouti."
He was detained on two charges:
• belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and
• leading a committee to organize demonstrations.
He denied both charges. He faces 18 months in prison if convicted. It's usually rubber-stamp. On October 23, an Ofer Military Court judge ordered him released on bail.
He called confessions obtained from other detainees no proof Barghouti was a security threat.
On October 8, National Lawyers Guild President-Elect Azadeh Shahshahani wrote Israel and the State Department. She did so calling for Barghouti's unconditional release.
Letters were sent ahead of his Ofer court hearing. Charges relate to his legitimate human rights advocacy.
AI's Middle East/North Africa Program director Philip Luther said:
"The release of Anas Barghouti is positive news, but he should have never been detained and charged in the first place."
"It is unacceptable for Israeli authorities to continue to prosecute activists because of their peaceful work in defense of human rights."
"This release should be a first step towards the authorities ending their harassment of Palestinian human rights defenders."
If convicted, AI intends to name him a prisoner of conscience. It cites his advocacy on behalf of prisoners and the "peaceful expression of his political views."
On December 11, 2012, Israeli forces targeted Addameer and two other Palestinian NGOs. They stormed their offices. They ransacked them.
They seized laptops, desktops, hard drives, video cameras, legal files, photos and other personal property.
They did so hours after the conclusion of the 64th Human Rights Day anniversary. It's commemorated annually on December 10.
Addameer's been subjected to numerous previous raids. In October 2012, its researcher Ayman Nasser was targeted. He was violently arrested and detained. He was tortured during interrogation.
Abdullatif Ghaith is Addameer's chairman/co-founder. He's effectively imprisoned. Israel greatly restricts his movements. He's prohibited from entering the West Bank. In response he said:
"A military order from the head of Israeli forces in the West Bank said I constitute a threat to the safety of Israeli soldiers and security, therefore I'm forbidden from entering or being inside any of the areas they call 'Judea and Samaria.' "
He's denied permission to travel abroad. He's the only one he "ever heard of getting five bans in a row and for this long a period of time," he said.
These measures are "illegal under international law, and I think they're not particularly against me but against the entire Palestinian community and our human rights in general," he added.
Israel imprisoned Gaith 10 times. Its gulag "became a second home for me and all Palestinians," he explained.
Addameer is targeted for its activism. It supports the rights of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. It works tirelessly on their behalf. It documents their abusive treatment.
Gaith is confined to East Jerusalem's Shuafat area. It's about 12 miles from Addameer's Ramallah office.
"Despite the circumstances that prevent me from leaving Jerusalem or Israel, I won't run out of thoughts or ideas, and this order will not keep me from working on" behalf of prisoners' issues," Ghaith stressed.
Amnesty International called Barghouti's arrest "part of a pattern of harassment by the Israeli authorities of Palestinian human rights organisations and activists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with individuals suffering arbitrary detentions, restrictions on movement, and raids of homes and offices."
Israel ruthlessly targets independent journalists, human rights activists and defenders. Gaith, Nasser and Barghouti are three among many others affected.
Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's most ruthless.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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