Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Addameer condemns continuing detention of Ahmad Qatamish


Ramallah, 28 April 2011

On 28 April 2011, Ahmad Qatamish, a Palestinian writer and political scientist, was told at Ofer military court that his detention would be extended for another 6 days whilst the Israeli police continue their investigations. Addameer condemns the decision of the military court, and fears that Qatamish’s extended detention will lead to lengthy interrogation and possibly administrative detention.
At 2 a.m. on 21 April 2011, Ahmad Qatamish, a Palestinian writer and political scientist, was arrested by the Israeli Occupying Forces at his home in Ramallah. An hour earlier, Qatamesh’s wife, 22-year-old daughter and two other female relatives, including a 14-year-old child, were taken hostage by Israeli troops in another apartment to compel him to surrender himself. He was led to “Ofer” detention center in Beitunia.
Addameer is gravely concerned about Mr. Qatamish’s continuing detention, as it suggests that he is still being targeted for his writings and peaceful activism and not any ’security’ reasons as claimed by the Israeli authorities. In the 8 days Qatamish has spent in detention, he has only been interrogated once for 10 minutes, when he was first arrested. At Ofer Military Court on 28 April, the Israeli police claimed that recent developments in their investigations require them to detain him for a further 11 days for interrogation. Although this timeframe was rejected by the Military Judge on the grounds that the evidence that he has so far received is not sufficient to justify prolonged detention, it was still decided that Qatamish would remain in detention for another 6 days to allow the Israeli police to continue their investigations.
The Israeli police’s request for an extension to his current detention is based on their claim that Mr. Qatamish in recent months has become an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a claim which Mr. Qatamish denied at Ofer court on 28 April. He highlighted that the last time he was detained was in 1998, and since then has spent his time writing books and articles and lecturing at universities, and has never feared to make his opinions known regarding the arbitrary practices of both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Mr. Qatamish has been the target of the Israeli authorities before on numerous occasions, notably spending five and a half consecutive years in detention without charge or trial in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Qatamish was first arrested by the Israeli authorities in 1969 and held for a few months. He was then rearrested in 1972, this time spending 4 years in prison. After his release, Mr. Qatamish spent 17 years in hiding from 1976 to 1992 to avoid re-arrest. On 2 September 1992, however, he was arrested once more, in the presence of his then 3-year-old daughter, and was subjected to torture and ill treatment during 100 days of interrogation, an experience which he vividly exposed in his prison notes entitled I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush (fez). He was placed in administrative detention, a form of detention without charge or trial that is based on secret information made available to the Military Judge, and which can be renewed indefinitely. For the next five and a half years, Mr. Qatamish’s detention order was renewed every six months, making him one of the longest held administrative detainees. He was finally released on 15 April 1998 after an extensive international campaign on his behalf, but has been prohibited from traveling outside the occupied Palestinian territory by the Israeli authorities ever since. After his release in 1998, Mr. Qatamish completed his studies in political science and devoted his life to writing and lecturing, notably founding the Munif Barghouti Research Center and teaching a course in 2010 at the School of Humanities at Al-Quds University.
At Ofer Military Court on 28 April the Addameer lawyer representing Ahmad Qatamish requested that he be released from his current detention. Mr. Qatamish’s detention will be reviewed on 3 May, and Addameer will continue to closely follow his case and publish further information accordingly.