Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Stop the Wall: Free Jamal Juma’! - Free the anti-Wall prisoners!

A message from our allies at Stop the Wall:

Jamal Juma’ was arrested by Israeli authorities on December 16. This arrest follows the imprisonment of Mohammad Othman, another Stop the Wall activist, and Abdallah Abu Rahmeh, a leading figure in the Bil’in popular committee against the Wall, as well as dozens more that are currently in prison for their action and advocacy against the Wall.
This latest arrest is yet another escalation of Israel’s attack on Palestinian human rights defenders, which continues to clamp down on the right to freedom of expression and the right to association.

Join the campaign for Jamal Juma’s release and for the freedom of the anti-Wall prisoners! It is crucial that global civil society stands in solidarity with their Palestinian counterparts.

Recommended Actions:

• Encourage your members to join this campaign through petitions, demonstrations and/or letter writing and phone calling. Please provide them with contact information and details.

• Urge your representatives at consular offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem/Ramallah to advocate for the immediate release of Jamal Juma’, Mohammad Othman, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh and the other anti-Wall activists. See pro forma letter below. (For your consular contacts, see: http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-in/Israel#11725)

• Let the Israeli Embassy in your home country know that you are campaigning for the release of Jamal Juma’ and the other anti-Wall prisoners.

• Bring the case of the anti-Wall prisoners to the attention of local and national media outlets.

• Follow the site, blog and Facebook group regarding the issue:

Site: www.stopthewall.org
Blogs: http://freejamaljuma.wordpress.com/ ;http://freemohammadothman.wordpress.com/
Facebook: Free the Anti-Wall Prisoners
Twitter: http://twitter.com/wallprisoners

We would highly appreciate it if you would coordinate your actions with us. We have pro forma letters and can let you know if there are other activists and organizations that are taking similar action. The better we coordinate, the more effective our action will be.

For more information contact: global@stopthewall.org

Facts and Background:

Israeli security first summoned Juma’ for interrogation at midnight of December 15. Hours later, they brought him back to his home. Juma’ was handcuffed while soldiers searched his house for two hours as his wife and three young children looked on helplessly. The parting words of the soldiers were directed at his wife: she would only see her husband again through a prisoner exchange. Since then, Juma’ has been detained and barred from speaking to a lawyer or his family. No explanation has been given for his arrest.

Jamal, 47 years old, was born in Jerusalem and has dedicated his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. The main focus of his work is on empowering local communities to defend their human rights in the face of violations brought about by the occupation. He is a founding member of a number of Palestinian NGOS and civil society networks. Juma' has been the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign since 2002. He is widely respected for his work and has been invited to address numerous civil society and UN conferences. His articles and interviews are widely published and his work has been translated into several languages. As a highly visible figure, Juma’ has never attempted to hide or disguise his activities.

Jamal Juma’ is the highest profile arrest within an intensifying campaign of repression of grassroots mobilizing against the Wall and settlements. Initially arresting local activists from the villages affected by the Wall, the Israeli authorities have moved towards the detention of internationally known human rights defenders such as Mohammad Othman and Abdallah Abu Rahmah. Mohammad, another member of the Stop the Wall Campaign, was arrested nearly three months ago when returning from a speaking tour in Norway. After two months of interrogation, Israeli authorities still could not press any charges against him and therefore passed an administrative detention order against him. Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leading figure in the nonviolent struggle against the Wall in Bil’in, was taken from his home in the middle of the night a week before Jamal was jailed.

With these arrests, Israel aims to weaken Palestinian civil society and its influence on political decision making at the national and international level. This process clearly criminalizes the work of Palestinian human rights defenders and Palestinian civil disobedience.

It is crucial that the international community combat Israeli attempts to criminalize human rights defenders struggling against the Wall. The Israeli policy of targeting organizers calling for Israeli accountability is a direct challenge to the decisions of governments and global bodies such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law. This challenge shall not go unmet.

Pro Forma letter

Dear x,

I am writing to you to express my deepest concern about the detention of Jamal Juma' on December 16. He was summoned from his home for interrogation with the Israeli security at midnight and has been kept in detention ever since. Though Jamal Juma' is a Jerusalem ID card holder, West Bank military orders have been applied to bar him for access to legal counsel for the first week of his arrest. No charges have been made against him.

I fear that the detainment of Jamal Juma' is a result of his peaceful criticism of violations of international law by Israeli authorities. The charges against him have not been made clear, but there is reason to believe that he is a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for his human rights work through legal organizations. His arrest follows a number of other arrests of similar nature. This seems to show a systematic disregard for Palestinian freedom of expression and assembly and a full-scale attack on Palestinian human rights defenders by Israeli authorities.

I ask you to take all appropriate measures, including official inquiries and protests, to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Jamal Juma' and the other Palestinian human rights defenders in Israeli prisons. Furthermore, whilst being held, he should be protected from any form of torture or ill-treatment, and the conditions of his detention should fulfill the requirements of international law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.