Sunday, April 18, 2010

Israeli Embassy protest demands release of Palestinian political prisoners

The annual Palestinian prisoners day (April 17) was marked in Dublin with a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy. The protest was jointly organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and éirígí.

It was part of a series of events being held in the Palestinian territories and worldwide to highlight the appalling conditions under which Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails and to demand their immediate release. Demonstrations were held throughout the West Bank, east Jerusalem and in Gaza, where a protest and 24 hour fast were held at the offices of the Red Cross.

The Palestinian Prisoner day protests took place within hours of the death of Palestinian prisoner Raed Abu Hamad in his cell at Eshel Prison. Hamad, who was serving a ten year sentence, had been in solitary confinement for the past 18 months and, according to his lawyer, had been continually denied medical treatment.

In the region of 7000 Palestinians are believed to be currently incarcerated in appalling conditions in Israeli jails. Around 300 of those are in what is known as "administrative detention" - in short, they have been interned without trial.

Those prisoners who were ‘convicted’ did not receive fair trials as they were subject to Israeli military law and had their cases heard in biased non-jury military courts, making a mockery of Israel's claims to be a 'liberal democracy'. Among those detained are around 300 children, and according to human rights organisations, that figure is on the increase.

Speaking at the demonstration was éirígí spokesperson Dáithí MacAn Mhaistir and IPSC spokesperson Freda Mullin Hughes. While the demonstration at the Israeli embassy demanded the release of ALL Palestinian political prisoners, both speakers paid a particular focus on the cases of two individuals abducted and held as prisoners by Israel in order to highlight the ill-treatment of Palestinians at the hands of the zionist states' so-called 'justice' system.

Ahmad Sa’adat, general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (PFLP) was abducted by security officials of the Palestinian Authority in January 2002 at Israel's behest and interned without trial. Israeli forces laid siege to the prison where he was being held in March 2006 and proceeded to kidnap Sa’adat and five comrades of his.

Ahmad Sa’adat

A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Sa'adat received a 30 years jail term following a trial in an Israeli court in 2008. His convictions included membership of the PFLP, holding a post in that organisation which is prohibited by Israel, and incitement. The incitement charge related to a speech he made back in 2001 after Israel's assassination of his predecessor, Abu Ali Mustafa.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah is co-ordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall. Bil’in has come to international attention because of a five-year long campaign of non-violent resistance to Israel’s attempt to build a stretch of its Apartheid Wall through the village.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah

In December 2009, the Israeli military carried out a night time raid on Bil'in during which they abducted Abdallah from his home. They proceeded to charge him with a number of offences including 'incitement', of ‘organising and participating in demonstrations without a permit’, and of ‘possession of arms’. The 'possession' charge relates to an exhibition which Abdallah organised of bullets and grenades that the Israeli military have used against protestors in Bil’in.

According to éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey, who participated in the demonstration, it was important to hold a show of solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners.

He said: "The treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, both in the manner of their detention, and the abuse and torture, both physical and psychological, that they suffer once in detention, is appalling. It is important that we extend our solidarity with those prisoners and their families and let them know that their cause is not forgotten and will not be forgotten."

He added: "It is also particularly important to highlight to the public at large, here in Ireland and around the world, the plight of these prisoners and the Palestinian people in general, at the hands of the Israeli zionist regime. These prisoners should not be in jail. They have been imprisoned for resisting the illegal occupation and theft of their land and resources, and the human rights abuses and atrocities that come with that brutal and inhumane occupation. "

He concluded: " We must all intensify our efforts on these prisoners' behalf to ensure that, not only do they secure their freedom from Israeli captivity, but that the Palestinian people as a whole obtain their freedom from Israeli occupation and secure a viable, free and independent Palestine that has been denied them for so long."

For more photos from Saturday's protest click here

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