We are All Palestinians – Free Jamal Juma’ NOW

Update 3 (29 December 2009)

Join the rally outside the Russian Compound, Jerusalem on 4 January 2010 at 9 am!

Monday January 4 is date of Jamal’s court hearing. The gathering will be outside the court to remind Israeli authorities that we will not sit silently while they attempt to use trumped up charges and a discriminatory legal system to provide a cover for ……the blatant repression of those who are speaking out against the Wall. We must remind them that the arrests of Jamal Juma’, Mohammed Othman, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh and all the others, will galvanize, not paralyze, the struggle against the Wall. The hearing on the January 4 is Jamal’s third hearing. He has been held without access to his lawyer for over 10 days, and on his court date the lawyer was ordered out of the courtroom when Jamal came before the judge. Observers from European Consulates and the Habitat International Coalition were barred from entering the court. Jamal’s file remains “secret” and under no known charges.

BE THERE!

Update 2 (December 24)

Today, 24 December, Jamal Juma’ underwent a hearing before a military judge at Moskobiyya Detention Center, in Jerusalem. Although Jamal’s interrogation over eight days apparently has finished, the judge granted the Israeli police and intelligence agency’s request to extend his detention for 12 more days of “investigation” before a scheduled second hearing.

This morning, the judge upheld the false premise of Jamal’s arrest as a West Bank resident, insisting that he is alien to his actual Jerusalem residence, because of his work in a Ramallah (West Bank) office. That makes Jamal the subject of Israeli military law.

The Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem are holding Jamal incommunicado, without access to his lawyer. Even the judge ordered the lawyer out of the courtroom while Jamal came before the judge. The Israeli jailers blindfolded Jamal in his only meeting briefly with his lawyer several days ago. They likewise blindfolded him when his brother entered the courtroom to see him briefly at this morning’s hearing. The judge refused to allow observes from European Consulates and the Habitat International Coalition from entering the court.

Jamal’s file remains “secret” and under no known charges.

Joint Addameer and “Stop the Wall” Update on the Arrest of Human Rights Defender and coordinator of the “Stop the Wall” Campaign Jamal Juma’

Joint Addameer and “Stop the Wall” Update on the Arrest of Human Rights Defender and coordinator of the “Stop the Wall” Campaign Jamal Juma’

[Ramallah, 22 December 2009] On Monday 21 December 2009, a court hearing at the Moskobiyyeh Interrogation Center (Russian Compound) in West Jerusalem extended Jamal Juma’’s interrogation period for four days. A leading Palestinian human rights defender, Jamal Juma’ aged 47, who is the coordinator of the Grassroots “Stop the Wall Campaign” and a founding member of several Palestinian civil society networks and non-governmental organizations such as the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, has never been charged with any offenses before.

At the court hearing, Jamal’s legal counsel, attorney Fathi Shbeitah argued that the military court did not have any jurisdiction over Jamal Juma’, who as a resident of occupied East Jerusalem should appear before an Israeli civil court. In response, the interrogation police answered that they have received authority from both the Jerusalem public prosecutor’s office and the military prosecution to interrogate Jamal under the military orders. Although the military judge was not satisfied with the interrogation police’s justification, he still stated that the information provided was enough to apply military orders. Given that Jamal is prevented from access to his attorney owing to a ban on lawyers’ visits which was implemented by a court’s decision on 17 December, a day after Jamal’s arrest, Addameer and Stop the Wall are particularly alarmed by the military judge’s decision to interrogate him under the military court system. Practice shows that such decisions are always deliberately intended to extend the interrogation period to the maximum, allow the outmost flexibility for Israeli Security Agency (ISA) officers in their conduct of the interrogation and reduce legal safeguards to the absolute minimum.

Indeed, the maximum periods of detention for Palestinians detained by Israel from the initial detention until conclusion of a trial by military court are significantly longer at each stage of proceedings as compared to those prescribed for the detention of detainees under the civil court system. For example, a Palestinian can be held without charge, by order of a military judge, for an initial period of up to 90 days. This period can be extended for another period of up to 90 days by request of the Chief Area Legal Advisor for the occupied Palestinian territory, via an order from the military court of appeals. By comparison, a detainee held under the Israeli civil court system can be held without indictment for an initial period of 30 days only, which can be extended three times in 15 day increments on the authority of the Attorney General. What’s more, Palestinians tried before the military courts can be denied access to a lawyer for 90 days. Under the Israeli civil court system, such a ban is restricted to 21 days only. Finally, trials for Palestinians before the military courts must be completed within two years, while the limit for detainees before Israeli civilian courts is nine months.

According to Jamal’s legal counsel, attorney Fathi Shbeitah, the Israeli interrogation police did not provide clear allegations at the court hearing in Moskobiyyeh, but made vague accusations about Jamal’s alleged involvement in activities supporting terror and threatening the security of the state that could be considered as incitement. So far, no charges have been laid. Additionally, although Jamal was brought to court, he was prevented from speaking with Adv Shbeitah, owing to the ban on lawyers’ visits. As a result, Adv Shbeitah was unable to ensure that Jamal is detained in adequate conditions. The military judge dismissed the interrogators’ request to extend Jamal’s detention to 15 days, but he did agree to a four day extension period based on “secret information” that was made available to him by representatives of the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and consequently allowed the interrogation process to formally begin. When Adv Shbeitah questioned the ISA officers about the content of the undisclosed information and the reasons for Jamal’s detention, he received no answer.

BACKGROUND

At 9:00 pm on 15 December 2009, the Israeli police called Jamal Juma’’s family home and summoned him for interrogation. He was asked to come to Qalandia checkpoint that same night at midnight. Two and a half hours later, at 2:30 am on 16 December 2009, Jamal Juma’ was brought handcuffed to his home. In the presence of Jamal’s three young children and his wife, the army searched his home for two hours and confiscated his computer and cell phones. As the Israeli army was taking Jamal to the Moskobiyyeh Interrogation Center in West Jerusalem, one of the soldiers threatened Jamal’s wife that she would only see her husband again through a prisoners’ exchange.

CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Addameer and Stop the Wall contend that Jamal’s arrest should be viewed in a wider context of persistent Israeli repression against Palestinian human rights defenders and activists who, like Jamal, have been successful in their lobbying efforts, at home and abroad, against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, Israel’s continuation of land confiscation and the illegal construction of the Annexation Wall. The timing of Jamal’s arrest is also an indication of a link between his human rights work and his subsequent detention. Weeks prior to his arrest, Jamal was actively working on starting a campaign to protect human rights activists protesting against the Annexation Wall. Indeed, since July 2009, the Israeli forces have increased their arrest campaign of both human rights defenders and residents of Palestinian villages opposing the construction of the Wall. In response to organized protests and advocacy efforts, Israel has adopted a policy of arrest, detention, intimidation, threats and, at times, collective punishment. Leading Palestinian human rights activists, prominent figures, such as mayors and teachers, and members of the Popular Committees, who are instrumental in coordinating weekly protests and advocacy efforts including legal cases, are often personally targeted and arrested in an attempt to sideline them from organizing the protests, or to discredit them and their efforts. Local cameramen and photographers, as well as members of the press, are also targeted. Most recently, on 10 December 2009, Abdallah Abu Rahma, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested by Israeli soldiers during a dawn raid. Importantly, youths and children as young as twelve are often the first ones to be arrested in mass arrest campaigns, either during demonstrations, immediately after them or during night raids. These arrests of the most vulnerable members of the community are intended to exert pressure on their families and the entire campaign to put an end to all advocacy efforts and social mobilization.

In recent months, Jamal has been raising all of these issues with EU representative offices to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and EU consulates in East Jerusalem in relation to the arrest and administrative detention of one of his colleagues, a youth campaigner working with the Stop the Wall campaign, Mohammad Othman, who was arrested on 22 September 2009 on his way back from an advocacy tour in Norway. Together with Addameer, Jamal suggested that EU missions implement EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders by regularly attending trials of human rights defenders, reporting on arbitrary arrests and raising specific cases under the EU-Israel political dialogue. Additionally, Jamal has been very active in advocating the rights of the Palestinian people at various United Nations conferences, and regularly participated in the United Nations International Conference of Civil Society, organized under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. He also regularly attended the World Social Forum meetings in Porto Alegre, Caracas, Nairobi and most recently in January 2009 in Belém in Brazil, where he personally met with the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In addition, Jamal attended the International Symposium on the “International Court of Justice and Israel’s Wall – 5 years on” in July 2009, where he spoke about the Wall and its associated, unlawful regime, in the presence of prominent human rights defenders, such as Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Occupied Territory. Through his work as the “Stop the Wall” campaign coordinator, Jamal regularly met with foreign diplomats, members of the European Parliament and government officials.

Addameer and “Stop the Wall” position

The protection of human rights defenders is not only a moral obligation, but has been recognized by the United Nations as a social, individual and collective right and responsibility. Addameer and Stop the Wall thus urge foreign government officials, including members of foreign representative offices to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and foreign Consulates in East Jerusalem, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, human rights organizations and United Nations bodies to:

• Raise all cases of Palestinian human rights defenders arrested in relation to their advocacy work on the Wall and its associated, unlawful regime, including the cases of Jamal Juma’, Mohammad Othman and Abdallah Abu Rahma, in their official meetings with Israeli officials;
• Demand clarifications regarding the reason for the arrest of all human rights defenders protesting the construction of the Wall, including that of Jamal Juma’, in official letters addressed to Israeli authorities;
• Issue public statements condemning the arrest of all human rights defenders, including Jamal Juma’, protesting the construction of the Wall;
• Demand Jamal’s immediate release and pressure Israel to put an end to its policy of arbitrary detention.

In addition, Addameer and Stop the Wall urge representatives of EU missions to attend Jamal’s and other human rights defenders’ court hearings in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders; raise Jamal’s case under the EU-Israel political dialogue and organize a joint press conference with Palestinian human rights defenders at risk of detention.

For more information about Jamal’s arrest, as well as the detention of other Palestinian human rights defenders, directly contact:

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0446 / 297 0136
Email: info@addameer.ps
Website: http://www.addameer.info

Stop the Wall Campaign
Tel: +972-2-2971505
Email: global@stopthewall.org
Website: http://www.stopthewall.org

Update 1 (December 21)

On December 15 Jamal Juma’s first court hearing was held at the military court at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. The military judge rejected the interrogators’ initial request to extend Jamal’s detention period to 14 additional days, but did agree however, to a four day extension period.

Jamal is still prevented from access to legal counsel and the ban is effective until midnight today. There are fears that the ban might be renewed tomorrow. As a result, Jamal’s attorney was unable to ensure that he is held in suitable detention conditions. Considering the apparent grounds for the arrest this arrest seems to be an outright attack on Palestinian freedom of expression and assembly.

Next hearing: Thursday, December 24, 9:30 am, military court at the Russian Compound, West Jerusalem

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, in Israeli jail

Jamal Juma’ has been arrested by Israeli authorities on December 16. This latest arrest is yet another escalation of Israel’s attack on Palestinian human rights defenders and clamp down on the right to freedom of expression and the right to association.

Israeli security first summoned Juma’ for interrogation at midnight of December 15. Hours later, they brought him back to his home. Juma’ was handcuffed while soldiers searched his house for two hours as his wife and three young children looked on helplessly. The parting words of the soldiers were directed at his wife: she would only see her husband again through a prisoners exchange. Since then, Juma’ has been detained, and banned from speaking to a lawyer or his family, with no explanation for his arrest.

Jamal, 47 years old, was born in Jerusalem and has dedicated his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. The main focus of his work is on empowering local communities to defend their human rights in the face of violations brought about by the occupation. He is a founding member of a number of Palestinian NGOS and civil society networks. Juma’ has been the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign since 2002. He is widely respected for his work and has been invited to address numerous civil society and UN conferences. His articles and interviews are widely published and his work has been translated into several languages. As a highly visible figure, Juma’ has never attempted to hide or disguise his activities.

Jamal Juma’s is the most high profile arrest within an intensifying campaign of repression of grassroots mobilizing against the Wall and the settlements. Initially arresting local activists from the villages affected by the Wall, the Israeli authorities moved towards the detention of internationally known human rights defenders such as Mohammad Othman and Abdallah Abu Rahmeh. Mohammad, another member of the Stop the Wall Campaign, was arrested nearly three months ago when returning from a speaking tour in Norway. After two months of interrogation, the Israeli authorities could still not press any charges against him and therefore passed an administrative detention order against him. Abdallah Abu Rahma, a leading figure in the nonviolent struggle against the Wall in Bil’in, had been taken from his home in the middle of the night a week before Jamal was jailed.

With these arrests, Israel aims to weaken Palestinian civil society and its influence on political decision making at national and international level. This process clearly criminalizes the work of Palestinian human rights defenders and Palestinian civil disobedience.

It is crucial that the international community combat Israeli attempts to criminalize human rights defenders struggling against the Wall. The Israeli policy of targeting organizers calling for Israeli accountability is a direct challenge to the decisions of governments and global bodies such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law. This challenge shall not go unmet.