End EU support for Israeli prison regime

On Wednesday 11th July the IPSC will hold a lunchtime demonstration from 1pm – 2pm outside the EU Offices (EU House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2) to raise awareness of Palestinian political and child prisoners and protest at EU silence and complicity in the face of Israeli violations of their rights.

POLITICAL PRISONERS & HUNGER STRIKERS

At present, there are a number of prisoners on hunger strike including Akram Rikhawi and Samer Al-Barq who are nearing their 90th and 50th day of hunger strike.

AKRAM RIKHAWI from Gaza was arrested by Israeli occupation forces in 2004 and sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment by a military court (these courts convict 99.74% of all accused Palestinians). Rikhawi has refused food for over 89 days, he suffers from various chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis. In spite of an independent doctor recommending examination by a lung specialist, to date this has been denied by the IPS (Israeli Prison Services) and when hospitalised recently he was shackled to his bed at all times. His request is simply that his medical condition be considered during the discussion of his request for an earlier release. Every prisoner is entitled to ask to be considered for early release when at least two thirds of the sentence has been served.

SAMER AL-BARAQ, from the village of Jayyous, near Qalqilia, has been on hunger strike for over 48 days. He has been interned by Israel for almost two years without charge or trial under the Administrative Detention regime. Baraq was assured by that he would be released after the mass hunger strike of over 2,000 prisoners came to a negotiated end, however his administrative detention order was renewed for another three months in violation of the terms of this agreement, thus forcing Mr. al-Baraq to resume his strike.

CHILD PRISONERS

The recent “Children in Military Custody” report, conducted by a team of British lawyers and funded by British Foreign Office and the British consulate in Jerusalem, points to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory. Israel is also in breach of the fourth Geneva convention in transferring child detainees from the West Bank to Israeli prisons.

Recommendations in the report include an end to night time arrests, children being told of their rights in their own language instead of in Hebrew, children not to be blinded shackled or hooded. While these recommendation would be an improvement, the idea of children being arrested, detained and imprisoned and in such large numbers is indicative of the “spiral of injustice” that forms part of the occupation.

The report concludes that “[i]t may be that much of the reluctance to treat Palestinian children in conformity with international norms stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist’. Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice.”

THE ROLE OF THE EU

In spite of Israel’s treatment of child and political prisoners, the EU continues to reward Israel through referential trading agreements. As Israel’s biggest trading partner, the EU has an obligation to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations, thusfar, the EU has failed to do this in spite of it’s stated policy: “t]he EU has put the human rights issue at the forefront of its relations with other countries and regions. All agreements on trade or cooperation with non-EU countries contain a clause stipulating that human rights are an essential element in relations.”