Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

One More Social Leader Killed In Colombia, 21 So Far in 2020

Social leaders in Colombia are under threat since the peace agreement of 2016.

Social leaders in Colombia are under threat since the peace agreement of 2016. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR | January 19, 2020

The Cordobexia Social Foundation denounced Saturday the assassination of social leader Luis Dario Rodriguez, the second activist killed in the northwestern department of Cordoba this week and the 21st so far in Colombia this year.

According to the statement released by the foundation, the social leader was murdered on Friday afternoon as he was returning home from a fishing trip in the municipality of Tierralta.

“He was shot by men on a motorcycle,” denounced the Cordobexia Social Foundation, as well as calling on the national government to protect and guarantee the exercise of human rights in Colombia.

Rodriguez was a member of the Association of Displaced and Vulnerable Families of Tierralta and of the human rights network of southern Cordoba. Also a father of three children and dedicated himself to fishing and agriculture.

His activism consisted of speeding up land claim processes after the flooding of the Alto Sinúu lands by the URRA 1 hydroelectric plant.

Less than a week ago, social leaders, Jorge Luis Betancourt and Tulio Sandoval were also murdered in their respective municipalities.

Betancourt also from Cordoba was killed in the municipality of Montelibanom and was a farmer’s rights activist.

While, Sandoval, who was participating in the crop substitution program, was killed by armed individuals who broke into his house, dragged him out and shot him repeatedly in front of his family.

In this context, Attorney General Fernando Carrillo recently called for an end to what he described as “the systematic murder of social leaders.”

Since the peace agreement signing, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia has counted more than 300 murders of human rights leaders.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

Severe torture in Israeli prisons targets Palestinian steadfastness: Walid Hanatsheh, Samer Arbeed, Mays Abu Ghosh and more

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | January 19, 2020

In the last months of 2019 and early 2020, a growing number of cases of severe physical torture against Palestinian detainees carried out by Israeli Shin Bet interrogators have been documented. While torture and abuse of various kinds have been a mainstay of the Israeli interrogation process, after a 1999 Israeli Supreme Court ruling and amid widespread international attention, torture under interrogation for some years focused on physical and psychological techniques that were less likely to leave physical scars. However, these tactics, including sleep deprivation, extreme heat and cold, solitary confinement and the use of prolonged shackling in painful positions, are often effective in extracting coerced confessions.

Torture: A mainstay of Israeli apartheid and colonialism

Indeed, many of the same techniques were documented as being used by U.S. interrogators holding detainees in Guantanamo, and U.S. and Israeli security agencies have shared information about interrogation and torture techniques. It must be noted that the Israeli Supreme Court never criminalized torture; it continually allowed “exceptions” through the designation of a detainee as a “ticking time bomb.” In practice, Palestinian victims of torture have repeatedly pursued legal accountability for the crimes committed against them, only to find that the Israeli Supreme Court considered their torture to be a permitted form of “extreme interrogation,” justified for the “security of the state” of occupation, colonialism, apartheid and racism.

Torture is unquestionably illegal under international law. The UN Convention Against Torture defines torture as any practice intentionally inflicting severe physical or mental pain on a victim in order to obtain information or a confession, or in order to punish the victim for their conduct or suspected conduct. Torture is also prohibited under the laws of war and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The torture of Samer Arbeed

The case of Samer Arbeed helped to highlight the escalating return of severe physical torture as an official policy of the Israeli Shin Bet. Only days after his arrest, Arbeed was taken to Hadassah hospital unconscious with eleven broken ribs, lung injuries and kidney failure. While in the hospital, an Israeli guard released tear gas into his room, after which Arbeed developed pneumonia. Despite the clear evidence of severe torture and the medical records of his abuse, the Israeli Supreme Court denied Arbeed access to his lawyer for an extended period, while the Palestinian lawyers in the case were repeatedly subjected to gag orders.

Samer Arbeed is not alone. While Israeli Shin Bet spokespeople were smearing Palestinian prisoners in media attacks, these same prisoners have been subjected to severe physical and psychological torture under interrogation. In a December press conference, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association highlighted some of the torture techniques used by Israeli interrogators, including harsh beatings, stress positions like the “frog” or “banana,” sleep deprivation and ongoing threats against family members.

Palestinian lawyers highlight torture and abuse

As Addameer noted, “On 10 September 2019, a gag order was issued on a number of cases under interrogation at al-Mascobiyya interrogation center. Hence, preventing the public, including Addameer the legal representative, from publishing any information regarding these cases. The gag order was issued based on a request from the Israeli intelligence agency and Israeli police and was renewed multiple times. Despite the gag order, Israeli media outlets and the Israeli intelligence agency published information to the public about some of those cases. This inconsistent enforcement of the gag order, where the Israeli sources exercised the freedom to publish, can only be understood as a means to influence public opinion. Most importantly, the issuance of this gag order is an attempt to hide crimes committed against the detainees and prevent the public and the legal representatives from exposing the details of the crimes of torture and ill-treatment that were committed against the detainees in question throughout the past months.”

Walid Hanatsheh: Torture under interrogation

Photo: Walid Hanatsheh after his interrogation

On 17 January 2020, photos of Walid Hanatsheh, one of the Palestinians detained, were released to the media, with his body showing clear signs of torture under interrogation. Bayan Hanatsheh, Walid’s wife, said in an interview published at Hadf News that the family obtained photos that displayed the bruises on his hands, neck, feet and throughout his body. She noted that he was brought to the military court in a wheelchair after his interrogation and that Walid said in court that he was unable to walk due to severe torture. His lawyer from Addameer demanded that the judge reveal the circumstances in which Hanatsheh was interrogated.

Photo: Walid Hanatsheh after his interrogation

“After the occupation court lifted the ban on our attendance at the trial, we entered the courtroom for two minutes and saw a man who seemed old and we did not recognize him at first, but he called me by my name,” Bayan said. “I was horrified to see him, his eyes were watering, his beard was patchy and plucked…his only concern was to reassure us because he had been forbidden to communicate with us throughout his interrogation.”

Photo: Walid Hanatsheh after his interrogation

Photo: Walid Hanatsheh after his interrogation

Bayan also noted that their daughter, Mays, 21, was detained by Israeli occupation forces for three days as a means of extracting a coerced confession from her husband. They told him that his daughter was imprisoned and under threat and also showed him a live feed of Israeli occupation forces storming their family home in Ramallah and taking measurements for its demolition.

Walid Hanatsheh with his daughter Mays, before his arrest

In Hanatsheh’s case, he was interrogated continuously for 23 hours at a time, with the replacement of interrogators approximately every eight hours. He was shackled in various stress positions and beaten while held there until he fell to the ground. Individual hairs were plucked from his beard and he was hit in the face by multiple interrogators, his lawyers said.

Walid Hanatsheh in his office, before his arrest

“Earth-shattering” crimes demand action

Sahar Francis, the executive director of Addameer, noted of the photos in Hanatsheh’s case that “These pictures are important in proving and documenting torture. Unfortunately, we do not succeed in receiving photos for all of the cases. In other cases, we have medical reports without pictures but a description of the prisoner’s situation, as in the case of Samer Arbeed.”

Former prisoner and long-term hunger striker Khader Adnan spoke out in response to the photos, calling them “earth-shattering.” He urged immediate Palestinian national attention to respond to the escalating crimes of torture, likening the experience of Palestinian prisoners to the infamous images of Abu Ghraib prison under U.S. occupation in Iraq.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement in response to the repeated cases of severe torture, noting that “The Front has experienced and confronted the policy of torture for over 50 years and developed a revolutionary school that graduated generations of revolutionaries, who carried and still carry forward the banner in the dungeons and interrogation cells, who cannot be shaken by crimes or policies of torture.

The Front emphasized that the international community and concerned institutions have neglected the crimes taking place in the dungeons of the prisons of the Zionist occupier against the prisoners, indicating once again the complicity of imperialism in these crimes.”

The exposure of the use of torture is not limited to Hanatsheh and Arbeed; severe physical torture was also reportedly used in the cases of Qassam Barghouthi and Karmel Barghouthi, whose mother Widad was also detained as a method of pressure on her sons, and in the cases of Yazan Maghamis and Nizam Mohammed.

Palestinian youth activists face torture

Several other prisoners also experienced extensive physical torture, including beatings and the use of stress positions, including Palestinian youth activist and new graduate Mays Abu Ghosh, whose parents spoke about seeing her after the effects of her torture and interrogation. Rather than being brought for a family visit, Abu Ghosh’s parents were actually brought in a further attempt to extract a false, coerced confession from her.

Palestinian youth activist Tareq Matar has been repeatedly jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention; after his most recent arrest and interrogation in November 2019, Matar is now being brought into court in a wheelchair, despite his previous status of physical health and athleticism after being beaten in stress positions under interrogation.

Jamil Darawi, 37, previously spent 14 years in Israeli prison. He was once again detained in November 2019 when Israeli soldiers stormed their family home near Bethlehem, breaking down the door and confining his wife, Rawan, to a room with their three daughters. Like his fellow Palestinian prisoners, Darawi was severely beaten and tortured under interrogation. Rawan said that when she saw him in court, she thought that he was not present until he called out to her: “I am here, Rawan, I am Jamil!” His jaw had been broken after an Israeli interrogator punched him and stamped on his face after he fell to the ground. He was returned to interrogation after being given painkillers and his face was still disfigured when he was finally brought before the military courts.

Demanding justice

Addameer has announced its intention to raise these cases before international bodies to call for justice for Palestinian torture victims and accountability for the Israeli state, the perpetrator of these crimes. In Gaza, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for a protest on Monday outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office to demand international action on institutionalized Israeli torture.

The systematic use of torture in Israeli interrogation not only intends to extract false and coerced confessions from Palestinians under interrogation; it also aims to undermine and prevent their steadfastness, the unwillingness to confess. Palestinian sumoud (steadfastness) under interrogation and the refusal to provide information has been the subject of numerous studies and tributes. The book, “Philosophy of Confrontation Behind Bars,” detailed how prisoners strengthen themselves in order to resist all forms of torture. During over 70 years of Israeli occupation, over 70 Palestinian prisoners have been killed under torture.

In recent decades, however, a vast majority of Palestinian prisoners’ cases have involved plea bargains; Israeli occupation forces will drag out military court sessions, interrogations and denied family visits in order to extract some form of limited confession for a plea agreement. Prisoners who refuse to provide the demanded confession are often transferred to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial that is indefinitely renewable. Palestinians have spent years at a time jailed under administrative detention.

Attacks on Palestinian prisoners tied to attacks on global movement

The so-called “Erdan Commission,” named for Israeli Minister of Public Security (over the Israel Prison Service) Gilad Erdan – who also serves as the Minister of Strategic Affairs, responsible for attacking Palestine solidarity and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns around the world – has announced an effort to roll back the gains won by Palestinian prisoners through years of struggle. Thus, women prisoners are denied access to a library or to goods for embroidery and crafts; child prisoners are transferred without their representatives; access to food and water is being cut; conditions of living are barely tolerable.

The reassertion of overt reliance on severe physical torture comes hand in hand with this overall policy of outright Israeli war against Palestinian prisoners. It also comes hand in hand with the escalating attacks internationally against Palestinian human rights organizations and global campaigners for Palestinian rights, smeared by Erdan’s ministry with allegations based on tortured, coerced confessions or direct Israeli military propaganda.

Erdan has attempted to get Palestinian human rights organizations that focus on Palestinian prisoners defunded. His ministry has also attempted – and failed – to have Samidoun activists and Palestinian leftists like Khaled Barakat blocked from speaking in the European Parliament about Israeli repression.

Need for action

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network recognizes the urgent need to build the strongest possible front to confront Israeli torture internationally through popular struggle, including escalating the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. We must not allow the Israeli occupation to isolate Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement or through our silence. Torture has been part and parcel of the Israeli colonial weapons of control for over 70 years, and the impunity of the Israeli state – backed up by U.S., European, Canadian and other imperialist powers’ support – may not be allowed to continue. We urge all to take action. 

If you or your organization would like to join the growing campaign against torture, please contact us at samidoun@samidoun.net.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 2 Comments

Egypt and the Destruction of Civil Liberties in America

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 17, 2020

There are lots of things wrong with the conviction and incarceration of 54-year-old Mustafa Kassem, who died last week in Egypt.

Kassen was an American citizen who drove a taxi in New York City. He had two children. In 2013, the Egyptian military ousted the democratically elected president of the country, which reestablished its omnipotent control over the government and the nation. In the process of killing hundreds of protestors, Egyptian authorities arrested Kassem in a nearby shopping center where he was exchanging money before returning home to the United States.

According to an article in the New York Times entitled “U.S. Citizen Dies in Egyptian Jail After Lengthy Hunger Strike,” after Kassem’s arrest Egyptian soldiers beat him mercilessly. They then jailed him. He remained incarcerated for five years before being accorded a trial. He was a diabetic and had a heart condition, but was accorded only limited medical care.

In 2018, five years after he was arrested, Kassem was convicted in a mass trial involving hundreds of other defendants. He began a liquids-only hunger strike and then passed away last week.

Like the United States since the end of World War II, Egypt is a national-security state. That means that, like the United States, its government is characterized by a powerful military-intelligence establishment with vast powers within the national governmental apparatus. The difference between the two systems is that while the U.S. government has three other branches of government — the executive, legislative, and judicial — the Egyptian national-security establishment wields 100 percent omnipotent control over the government and, consequently, the nation.

The U.S. Constitution called a different type of governmental structure into existence — a limited-government republic. The last thing that Americans of that time would have approved was a national-security state form of governmental structure similar to the one in Egypt or the United States today. That’s because they didn’t trust vast and powerful military-intelligence establishments, which they called “standing armies.” They figured that such establishments end up destroying the freedom and well-being of the citizenry.

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, expressed the common sentiment of Americans, when he stated:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

To ensure that the federal government would lack the power to do to people what the Egyptian government has done to Mustafa Kassem, our ancestors demanded the enactment of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, to supplement the guarantee of habeas corpus in the original Constitution.

Those amendments guarantee that if the federal government targets a person for punishment, it must comply with certain procedural restrictions on its power. These include due process of law, which mean formal notice of charges and a trial, which, at the option of the defendant, can be trial in which a jury of regular citizens in the community, not a judge, determines guilt. Other procedural rights include the right to an attorney, the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, the right to remain silent, the right to speedy trial, and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments.

There is something important to note: Our ancestors made sure that those procedural guarantees extended to everyone, not just American citizens. Thus, if a foreign citizen was visiting the United States and targeted by federal officials, he would be treated just like U.S. citizens were treated.

All that changed with the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state after World War II and especially after the 9/11 attacks. The national-security establishment, which consists of the Pentagon, an enormous and permanent military establishment, the CIA, and the NSA, quickly acquired the most power in the overall governmental structure. That power was solidified after the 9/11 attacks.

That phenomenon is reflected by the fact that the U.S. national-security state does much the same thing that the Egyptian national-security state does. Consider, for example, the Pentagon’s and CIA’s torture and prison camp in Cuba. It mirrors how things operate in Egypt.

At Guantanamo Bay, there is no right to a speedy trial. While Kassem had to wait 5 years for a “trial,” there are inmates at Gitmo who have been incarcerated for more than 10 years without trial. If trials are ever held, hearsay evidence and evidence acquired by torture can be used to secure a conviction. Trial is by military tribunal rather than by a jury of regular citizens. Attorney-client communications are secretly monitored by the authorities. Many of the proceedings are held in secret. Confessions can be coerced. Defendants can be tortured, both before and after conviction.

Here’s something else to consider: The U.S. national-security state also now wields the power to round up American citizens, place them in military dungeons or detention centers, torture them, and even assassinate them without a trial.

Like in Egypt, the federal courts permit it to happen. So long as the Pentagon and the CIA relate their mistreatment of people to “national security” and “terrorism,” the federal courts step aside, or even worse, confirm and uphold the constitutionality of the tyranny.

Finally, perhaps it should be worth pointing out that the Egyptian military dictatorship is a close partner and ally of the U.S. government. Just last year alone, the U.S. government sent these goons $1.4 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded largess with which to line their pockets and fortify their dictatorial rule. And why not? Don’t birds of a feather flock together?

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Israel to build more detention facilities for Palestinians

Palestine Information Center – January 14, 2020

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The Israeli occupation government has approved a plan to build more detention facilities to accommodate thousands of new Palestinian prisoners.

According to Israel’s Channel 7, four prisons will be built to accommodate about 4,000 Palestinians as part of a long-term plan to be finished in 2040.

The project will also include other detention centers, police stations and courts.

The Israeli prison service has 30 prisons and detention centers, the Channel said.

There are about 5,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 47 women and girls, 250 children, six lawmakers, 500 administrative detainees and 700 patients.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 2 Comments

Israel confiscates sole medical vehicle serving 1,500 Palestinians

MEMO | January 8, 2020

Israeli occupation forces have confiscated the only vehicle available to a medical team serving the needs of some 1,500 Palestinians in an isolated region of the southern West Bank, reported Haaretz.

According to the paper, this is the second time that the vehicle – which serves the residents of Masafer Yatta in the south Hebron hills – has been seized within a year, “cutting off healthcare to an isolated and impoverished population” living inside an Israeli military firing zone.

The medical team make weekly visits to the area’s Palestinian communities, which lie roughly one hour’s drive on dirt roads from the nearest town of Yatta. The jeep in question “is the only vehicle available for providing medical services to these communities”.

Last Thursday, Haaretz reported, Israeli occupation forces intercepted the medical team at Khirbet Al-Majaz, claiming that they were not allowed there “without prior coordination”. The patrol then impounded the jeep and held the medics for half an hour.

In February 2019 the vehicle was confiscated “under similar circumstances”, stated the paper, and only returned six months later after the medical team paid a 3,000 shekel ($865) fine. On that occasion, the team were unable to provide medical care for the entire six months.

The Israeli military commented that “the vehicle was impounded by supervisors at the Civil Administration since it was traveling in a fire zone, a forbidden area for vehicles by law”.

The Israeli military’s “Firing zone 918” was established in the 1980s, and the army has repeatedly sought to remove Palestinians from the area.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli Forces Committed 255 Violations against Journalists in 2019

Moath Amarneh lost his eye by a rubber bullet while covering a peaceful protest in Hebron (Al-Khalil). (Photo: via Social Media)
Palestine Chronicle – January 5, 2020

In 2019, Israeli forces committed 255 violations against journalists and media institutions working in the occupied Palestinian territories, according to The Palestine News and Information Agency (WAFA).

The agency released its annual report on Israeli violations against journalists on Sunday.

Israeli violations included the use of live fire, rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters against journalists, in addition to physical beating and arrest.

The report added that 145 journalists were injured by live fire or rubber-coated rounds, suffocated by teargas or beaten by Israeli forces during the year, while 145 journalists were either arrested or targeted by Israeli gunfire but were not injured. A total of 27 assaults by Israeli forces on media institutions were also documented.

“These daily crimes and violations against journalists,” the report said, “require an urgent and immediate intervention to pressure the Israeli government to stop its systematic and deliberate targeting of photographers and field journalists”.

January 5, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian student Mays Abu Ghosh speaks out on Israeli abuse and torture under interrogation

Mays Abu Ghosh. Source: Quds News
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | January 2, 2020

Palestinian journalism student Mays Abu Ghosh spoke with lawyers from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, discussing her torture and mistreatment under interrogation for over 30 days. A student at Bir Zeit University from Qalandiya refugee camp, Mays Abu Ghosh, 22, is a writer and student activist who has worked to publicize the struggles of Palestinian political prisoners and Palestinian refugees.

Mays Abu Ghosh seized by Israeli occupation forces

In her statement to the lawyers, Abu Ghosh recalled that she was seized by Israeli occupation forces in a violent raid on 29 August 2019, when the armed soldiers removed the door of her family home and invaded it, ransacking her and her family’s belongings, blindfolding and cuffing her and then taking her to an occupation military camp near Qalandiya checkpoint. While she was held there, the soldiers dragged her violently as she was handcuffed and blindfolded while cursing at her and screaming in her face.

Later, Mays was transferred to the Moskobiyeh interrogation center. She was strip-searched and then transferred to the interrogation cells. She recalled that her interrogations lasted for many hours at a time while she was shackled to a small chair inside a very cold cell. After six days, the “military interrogation” began with her, which included the use of stress positions like the “banana” and “squatting” or the “false chair” for long periods of time, in an attempt to coerce a false confession from her.

Illustration of the “banana” position. Source: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

She was slapped, beaten and deprived of sleep. This “military interrogation” continued for three days, during which all of these torture tactics continued. Abu Ghosh said that at one time, she tried to escape from the interrogators and sit in one of the corners of the cell, but the interrogator began slamming her head against the wall, kicking her while yelling obscenities. Next, interrogators deliberately brought her brother and her parents in an attempt to coerce her into confessing by threatening to detain them. Her 17-year-old brother was later ordered to administrative detention, without charge or trial, despite being a minor.

Mays said that the interrogation cells have extremely harsh conditions, lacking the basic elements for human life. The walls are concrete and rough, the mattress is thin, without a cover or a pillow, and the lights

Images of Shatha Hassan and Mays Abu Ghosh at the march in Ramallah in support of Ahmad Zahran, on hunger strike for 99 days. Photo: Quds News

She said that at one time, a large rat entered her cell, which she believes was intentionally entered by the interrogators in order to further torment her. They repeatedly delayed in responding to the simplest requests, for example to access the bathroom, and was repeatedly provoked and ridiculed. After 30 days of this treatment under interrogation, she was transferred to the Damon prison, where she remains today, with her fellow Palestinian women prisoners. She is charged in the Israeli military courts – which convict over 99% of Palestinian detainees – with involvement in student activities on the Bir Zeit University campus. Her brother’s administrative detention has been renewed again and he continues to be jailed without charge or trial.

Mays’ family earlier spoke about their experience in being brought to see her under interrogation, noting that the signs of torture were visible on her face and body. “Her face was full of bruises and her body is very pale. I could not hug her due to the pain hurting all of her body,” said her mother. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association convened a press conference on 23 December highlighting the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, including Abu Ghosh.

Palestinian imprisoned student Mays Abu Ghosh supports freedom for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah

Mays Abu Ghosh and Samah Jaradat are two of many Palestinian students who are being targeted by the Israeli occupation for arrest and imprisonment for their involvement in student activities on campus. Shatha Hassan, chair of the Bir Zeit University student council board, has been ordered to four months of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. There are hundreds of Palestinian university students held in Israeli jails, including approximately 80 from Bir Zeit alone.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible action and mobilization to support Mays Abu Ghosh and Palestinian students jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge students around the world to hold events, vigils and informational actions to highlight the struggle of Palestinian students under occupation and all people of conscience to develop the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Freedom for Mays Abu Ghosh and all Palestinian students!

Arabic source for this article: http://hadfnews.ps/post/63496/

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel detained 5,500 Palestinians in 2019

Israeli police officers arrest a Palestinian youth Issawiya, Jerusalem, 4 January 2017 [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]

Israeli police officers arrest a Palestinian youth in Issawiya, Jerusalem, 4 January 2017 [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]
MEMO | December 31, 2019

Israeli occupation forces detained over 5,500 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories in 2019, including 889 children and 128 girls and women, Quds Press reported rights groups saying yesterday.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission, Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and Addameer for Human Rights, there are approximately 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, including 40 girls and women, 200 children. Some 450 are under administrative detention.

The groups said that five Palestinian prisoners passed away while in detention this year, citing medical negligence and torture. They were named as: Faris Baroud, Awni Youses, Nassar Taqatqa, Bassam Al-Sayeh and Sami Abu-Dayyak. Israeli authorities withheld the bodies of four Palestinian prisoners.

During 2019, Israeli occupation forces issued 1,035 administrative detention orders, including four against women and four against children.

The rights groups said there are currently 700 prisoners who are in need of medical attention inside Israeli jails, including ten who suffer from cancer and more than 200 who have chronic diseases.

More than 50 prisoners went on hunger strike in protest against the policies of the Israeli prison services, as well as against the policy of administrative detention.

“Israeli occupation authorities violate all the rules of international and humanitarian laws, and reinforce their flagrant violations through the judicial system,” the rights groups said.

They called for local, regional and international bodies to put pressure on the Israeli occupation in order to stop its violations of Palestinian prisoners.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Palestinian minor prisoners in Israel jails tortured, humiliated, NGO reveals

MEMO | December 30, 2019

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission (PPC) has documented witnesses of Palestinian minor prisoners inside Israeli jails stating that they had been tortured and humiliated when they were arrested and during their investigations, Safa Press Agency reported.

Minor prisoner, Abdul-Min’em Al-Natsha, 17, revealed that Israeli undercover forces kidnapped him from the streets of Shu’fat Refugee Camp along with Usama Taha, 16.

Both boys disclosed that they were taken to an investigation centre and spent four hours being investigated. They were handcuffed, insulted and beaten.

Al-Natsha noted that members of the Israeli army unit, Nahkshon, beat him more than one time on his way to attend the court sessions.

“They beat me just because I spoke with my mother during one of the court sessions,” Al-Natsha added.

Meanwhile, Taha explained that the officers of the Nahkshon unit unleashed the police dog at him on his way to the court.

Another boy, Motasem Sheikha, 17, described his kidnapping by Israeli undercover forces while walking in the streets of Shu’fat Refugee Camp.

He added that he spent 30 days being investigated in Al-Moskobiyeh Detention Centre, where he was tortured after he was incarcerated in a room with no monitoring cameras.

Abdul-Rahman Abu-Laila, 17, was also kidnapped by Israeli undercover forces from his workplace in the city of Akka, Israel.

According to the PPC, Abu-Laila was locked up in Petah-Tikva Detention Centre for ten days. He spent each day handcuffed in an isolated cell.

Raed Rashid, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from the West Bank of Jenin, told that the Israeli occupation forces broke down the main door of his house at night, broke into his room and arrested him while he was sleeping.

“When they saw my mother screaming as they were aiming their guns at me, they beat me harshly in front of her,” he told the PPC.

Rashid revealed that he was imprisoned in Al-Jalama Detention Centre, while blindfolded and handcuffed, for around 10 hours.

The boys Sheikha, Al-Natsha and Taha are being detained in Al-Damoun Prison and the others, Rashid and Abu-Laila, are being held in Meggido Prison.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Bahrain’s Top Opposition Leader: Six Years of Persecution for Adopting Democracy and Reconciliation

By Sondoss Al Asaad | American Herald tribune | December 28, 2019

Although freedom of expression is a ratified constitutional right; yet it constitutes a heinous crime and poses an existential threat to the Manama regime. For instance, Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s top opposition political group, who has been held in custody since 2015, enters on Dec 28th his sixth year of arbitrary detention.

Indeed, the persecution of this peaceful leader is related to his commitment to peaceful protest and anti-corruption, marginalization and monopolization of power policies.

Al-Wefaq top leader had been initially serving a 4 years sentence on charges of ”insulting the interior ministry and inciting hatred.”

Prior to the current ongoing uprising, Sheikh Ali Salman had been severely tortured and arrested without trial, in 1994, before being exiled for more than 15 years.

The Bahraini High Court of First Tier acquitted Sheikh Salman on 21 June 2018; however, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal, on 4 November 2018, and handed him a life sentence after finding him guilty of spying for Qatar ”to transfer confidential information in exchange for financial compensation.”

Al-Wefaq slammed the verdict calling it a ”political revenge.” Sheikh Ali Salman’s co-defendants, former MP and Sheikh Hassan Sultan have also been sentenced to life in prison, while in absentia.

Seen as part of the diplomatic row with Qatar and following Saudi Arabia and other states’ boycott of what they call Doha’s ”extremist policies,” Sheikh Salman’s trial shifted to an intelligence-sharing case, relating to a clipped audio recording of a telephone call with Qatar’s former Prime Minister.

The incomplete clip was made in 2011, as part of mediation between Manama and the opposition, overseen and encouraged by the US, to deal with the political upheaval, i.e. it dates back to several years ago.

The edited clip was thus smeared by the Bahraini government to prolong the imprisonment of Sheikh Salman, merely because he long called for democratic reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt accused Qatar of ”supporting terrorist groups and of being too close to Iran,” allegations Doha has vigorously denied.

Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising had erupted in February 2011 but was violently suppressed by Saudi troops.

Ever since the tiny archipelago has been wracked by unrest as the government has stepped up its prosecution campaign against all forms of peaceful opposition demanding reforms, freedom of expression, release of political prisoners and to put an end to the politically-motivated discrimination against the Shiite majority population.

The government has curbed the rights to freedom of association and assembly, outlawed opposition groups, detained thousands of dissents, provoked the citizenship of hundreds and unfairly prosecuted citizens in military courts, accompanied with a wide range of physical, sexual and psychological torture and ill-treatment.

Bahrain hosts the US Navy’s 5th fleet and a UK permanent base. Those two powerful allies; however, have blatantly failed to speak out about the deteriorating human rights status-quo, ongoing crackdown on prisoners of conscience and the politically motivated conviction and unlawful imprisonment of Sheikh Ali Salman and the rest of opposition leaders.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces attack final round of weekly protests in Gaza

Press TV – December 27, 2019

Israeli forces have attacked Palestinians taking part in the final round of protests held on a weekly basis near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the occupied territories, leaving a number of protesters injured.

Palestinian media outlets reported that the Israeli forces shot and injured protesters in the east of Jabalia and the east of Khan Yunis on Friday.

Tens of Palestinians also suffered from suffocation due to inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli troops in the eastern part of Gaza.

The “Great March of Return” rallies have been held every week since March 30 last year. The Palestinians want the return of those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.

Israeli troops have killed at least 307 Palestinians since the beginning of the rallies and wounded more than 18,000 others, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.

In March, a United Nations fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

The protest organizers announced on Thursday that the rallies would be suspended until March 2020, after which it would be held on a monthly basis.

Yousri Darwish, a member of the Supreme National Committee of the Marches of Return, said the decision to suspend the rallies was made in the best interest of the Palestinian people.

He said preparations for the commemoration of the Land Day would be done in the upcoming few months in which the protests would stop. The annual event is held on March 30 to mark the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces during mass protests against Israel’s seizure of their land in 1976.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 3 Comments

‘Blinding the truth’: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes

By Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey | The New Arab | December 20, 2019

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank.

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

Mai Abu Rwedah, 20, grew up in north Gaza’s al-Bureij Refugee Camp in a family of nine children supported by a father who works as a janitor for a UN school. She just graduated from university, hoping to start her professional life as a medical secretary and contribute her income.

But that dream was dealt a severe blow December 6, when she became the most recent Gazan to lose an eye to an Israeli bullet.

Abu Rwedah believes in using peaceful, but active, resistance to reclaim Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homeland. So, she has joined participants in the Great Return March protest since its launch on March 30, 2018.

On September 21 of that year, she was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in one of her legs, but that didn’t stop her from participating; she kept on going.

Doctors had to extract Mai’s right eye and the bullet damaged her jaw as well

Earlier this month, stood with a few friends about 100 metres from the fence that marks the border between Gaza and Israel. She glimpsed an Israeli soldier waving and pointing his finger to his eye.

“He was trying to intimidate me, but I was not afraid because I was doing nothing wrong. I wasn’t even throwing stones,” Abu Rwedeh recalls.

The soldiers fired tear gas then, and Mai and her friends ran away, but still were in sight of the young man who had threatened her.

“He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye.”

The bullet damaged her jaw as well. Doctors had to extract her right eye, since it was destroyed, Her determination, however, is intact. Abu Rwedeh continues to protest.

The youngest victim

Mohammed Al-Najar, 12, is the second-oldest son among four children, supported by a father who works in a wedding hall in Khan Younis.

In January, during the mid-year vacation from school, Mohammed begged his parents to allow him to watch the Friday protest with his cousins and other relatives, thinking it would give him an exciting story to share with classmates.

He was given permission to ride one of the government buses that collected people from the various neighbourhoods, taking them to the protest sites. When he disembarked, teargas bombs were flying, and he shouted to warn those around him. Then next one hit him directly in his right eye.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school. When he did go back, he struggled.

“At first his marks at school dropped and he isolated himself. He tried to hide his missing eye,” says his mother, Um Edress.

She took to him an organisation that provided psychotherapy, but he refused to speak. Today, he is socialising, but goes quiet when asked about his injury.

The journalist

According to Dr Alqedra, most people with eye injuries from the Great Return March are journalists or photographers.

One of them is Sami Musran 35, a photographer who works for Al-Aqsa TV. On July 19, he was shot several times – first in his hand, the next two times in his shoulders and the fourth time in the chest. (Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so it did not harm him.) The last time cost him his left eye.

Sami says he had received several calls from Israeli officers warning him not to take photos at the Great Return March. His mother also received calls, saying her son might be killed.

“Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well,” he says. “But I decided to keep on with my work to reveal the Israeli crimes against unarmed Palestinians who participate in the march.”

The night before Musran was shot, his wife tried to insist he stay home, but he refused.

“Minutes before I was hit, my mother called me twice, saying she was very worried about me. But I said that nothing happens that isn’t God’s plan,” he recalls.

He was about 250 metres away from of the Israeli fence when two women and a child were shot. Musran was taking photos of them and went in close. That’s when a rubber-coated bullet hit his eye and he lost consciousness. Two days later, he woke up in the intensive care unit to find out he had a skull fracture and an injured eye. The bullet had damaged the iris, retina and cornea and his vision was gone.

Today, it is hard for him to continue with his job; his depth perception is off, he gets headaches and the sight in his remaining eye “fades” at night. But he will keep trying.

“Israel wants to blind the eyes of the truth by sending messages to photographers saying we will hit your eyes to make you stop taking photos,” he says. “But we do not surrender.”

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments