Monday, April 13, 2009

First Call out of the International Campaign of Solidarity with the Palestinian Prisoners

Dear everyone,

Please take a few minutes to read the call-out below from a broad
Gaza-based prisoner solidarity campaign made up of a coalition of
prisoner rights groups, local and international activists, prisoner
families and Ministry of Detainees
representatives in Gaza.

Friday April 17th is the international day of solidarity with
Palestinian prisoners. Just over 11,000 are behind bars in occupation
prisons inside the apartheid lines and outside the ghetto walls of the
West Bank and Gaza.

Prisoners are a community under siege which represents every faction in
Palestine. Solidarity between prisoners inside Israeli jails crosses all
political borders. They have sacrificed their individual freedom for
collective freedom.

From taking direct action to symbolic gestures (in the case if prisoner
campaigns, simple visual solidarity gestures drawing public attention to
the struggle of prisoners is always effective in keeping memories,
spirit and solidarity alive). Please take action this week! And email us
about it...

April 17th is the international day of solidarity with Palestinian
prisoners. These over 11,000 men, women and children are ghost
prisoners, forgotten by the international community and media which has
focused on the systematic and physical psychological torture of
prisoners in high profile camps such as Guantanamo Bay but has largely
ignored the network of Israel's 'Guantanamos' inside 'Israel'.

This call comes from Gaza – recognized as a large open air prison and
place of punishment and exile for Palestinian prisoners from the West

Maximum security facilities such as Nufha, Haderim, Jalamy, and Ashkalon
, and so-called 'black sites' which the Israeli government refuses to
aknowledge, hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners. These prisoners are
regularly and systematically tortured, denied access to legal
representation, family visits, education, shelter, light, essential
medical care and medicines.

The 'Israeli state' has a policy of administrative detention which means
any man, woman or child can be arrested at any time and in any place and
incarcerated without trial or access to any alleged evidence held by the
intelligence services, for an undetermined and extendable length of

The majority of Palestinian men have been and will be arrested and
incarcerated at some point in their lives by Israeli occupation forces.
Under the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which Israel is a signatory to,
Palestinian prisoners should be treated by the occupying forces under
the rules applicable to the treatment of civilians in time of war.
Almost all the Palestinian detainees are held in jails away from the
West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip, in violation of
international humanitarian law, which bars the removal of detainees to
the territory of the occupying power. The 'Israeli' military and
security forces regularly violate international law and conventions
relating to prisoners.

Imprisonment and torture is an intergenerational experience for
Palestinians living in Gaza, 1948 Palestine ('Israel') and the West

Imprisonment is a core element of the Israeli occupation's strategy of
collective containment and punishment of the Palestinian population –
both of those jailed, and their families who suffer their absence and
wait for their release. Military resistance fighters, as well as
non-militarily active political activists, community organizers,
paramedics, doctors, journalists, teachers, and students are regularly
jailed under an Israeli legal framework which criminalizes any form of
resistance to occupation.

The inhumane prison conditions that Palestinian prisoners endure are
steadily deteriorating. Following the Gaza massacres, the collective
punishment of prisoners from Gaza has accelerated, with prisoners being
denied the right to newspapers, radios, phone calls and visits from
legal representatives. Gazan prisoners are now being confined to their
cells for up to 23 hours a day and are being classified as "enemy
combatants" further stripping away any rights to legal defence.

Palestinian prisoners are a forgotten community behind bars, often
locally referred to as 'living martyrs'. The prisoner issue is a core
part of the Palestinian struggle, whose liberation is as integral to the
struggle for justice and peace as the return of refugees, Jerusalem and
stolen land.

In Gaza we will be holding a week of activities in solidarity including
a marathon through the streets of Gaza in solidarity with our jailed
loved ones, a conference of all prisoner advocacy organizations and
prisoners' families, a mass demonstration and a celebration of
Palestinian resilience, sacrifice and patience.

In the light of 'Israel's' further shift to the far right, unchallenged
impunity, and the intensified humiliation of Palestinian prisoners, we
call on the international community to take a stand.

We call for an end to double standards and for international pressure to
force 'Israel' to adhere to international law.

We call on national representatives, parliamentarians, human rights
organizations, trade unions, activists and people of conscience
throughout the world to recognize, remember, speak out and protest the
treatment of Palestinian prisoners this week.

We hope this week will be the catalyst that sparks long-term campaigns
and commitments towards solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.