Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Call for demonstrations on April 18th at ICRC offices! Demand that the ICRC take public action against Israel's treatment of Palestinian political pri
7500 Palestinians are currently being held as political prisoners by Israel, including around 344 Palestinian children and 115 Palestinian women. These prisoners face forms of torture and mistreatment during their arrest and detention, and are consistently denied family and lawyer visits.
April 17th is the International Day in Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners. It is marked by demonstrations through out the Occupied Territories with families demanding the release of prisoners. Many of these demonstrations take place outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, as this body is responsible for maintaining contact with prisoner! s, as well as delivering clothes and other essential items. This year in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners and their families we call on all Palestine solidarity groups and prisoners solidarity groups to hold demonstrations and deliver a letter of protest to ICRC missions
on April 18th (April 17th falls on a Sunday). We are calling on the ICRC to take more meaningful steps in the monitoring of prisoner conditions. Despite the grave violations of prisoner rights that take place in Israeli prisons, the ICRC mission in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not carrying out frequent visits to central Israeli
prisons and has failed to deliver urgently needed supplies. We call for demonstrations at ICRC offices to demand that the ICRC take public action and let the world know what is happening to Palestinian political prisoners inside Israeli jails and detention centers. We call on all Palestine solidarity groups and prisoners support groups to endorse this day of action and sign onto a letter being delivering to the ICRC. To endorse or receive more information please contact http://sumoud.tao.ca
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. As prisoner support organizations in Palestine are demonstrating outside local ICRC offices we must come together in the Palestine solidarity movement to support them and the prisoners. Join other groups all over the world on April 18 to organize a demonstration at an ICRC office in your area. Sumoud Political Prisoner Solidarity Group can provide you with resources (letter to ICRC, fact-sheets, event poster, press release, powerpoint presentation and video for educationals around the topic). Information available at http://sumoud.tao.ca
2. Sign an online petition being delivered to the ICRC on April 18 at http://www.petitiononline.com/sumoud/petition.html
3. Organize a Call-in / Fax Day to the ICRC on April 18. Below is a list
of central ICRC delegation contacts and a sample letter that can be faxed/emailed and used for talking points when making phone calls.
UNITED STATES, Washington DC (covers U.S.A. and Canada)
Fax: (+1) 202 293 94 31
Fax: ++ 41 (22) 733 20 57
PALESTINE / ISRAEL
Tel.: / 582 84 41
Fax: (+972 2) 581 13 75
Tel.: (+972) 57 756 860
Mobile: (+972) 59 60 30 15
I address this letter to you on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoner Day, April 17, 2005. As the guardians of international humanitarian law, the ICRC is responsible "…to take cognizance of any complaints based on alleged breaches of that law" (Article 5.2c of the Statutes of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement). In the case of Palestinian prisoners however, this responsibility has quite clearly not been fulfilled. It appears to us that the ICRC has preferred to quietly accept Israel's considerable and increasing violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners without taking any meaningful action. It appears that the ICRC has quietly accepted Israeli restrictions on which prisoners they can visit. Furthermore, the ICRC visits take place in official 'visiting areas' and do not include any kind of monitoring of the prison and detention conditions inside the prison/detention centre as a whole (through, for example, walk-throughs of the general prison areas). I believe this would be a simple and effective way of placing
pressure on the Israeli prison administrations to improve the conditions in these prisons.
In particular, I am concerned about cases such as Palestinian female prisoner Manal Naji Mahmoud Ghanim, 29 years old from Tulkarem, and her child Nour, 1 and a half years old, who have been imprisoned since 17 April 2003. Both Manal and Nour are being held in Telmond Prison. Manal, who suffers from Thalasemia, was arrested while she was pregnant. Taken away from her family in handcuffs, Manal delivered Nour in an Israeli hospital. The prison administration does not provide Manal and Nour with the special medical care they require, nor does it provide Nour with the milk he needs as his mother cannot breast-feed him.
While I understand that Israel places very real obstacles in front of the work of the ICRC, this situation must be urgently addressed. I therefore call on you to immediately take steps to fulfill the following measures:
*To take effective and public action to end the practice of Israel's incarceration of Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in areas outside of the occupied territories.
*To take effective and public action against Israel's widespread use of torture against Palestinian detainees.
*To immediately demand that sick and injured prisoners are provided with adequate and appropriate medical treatment.
*To urgently increase the frequency of visits by the ICRC to Israeli prisons.
*To insist that visits by ICRC staff to Israeli prisons also include the provision of urgently needed items such as clothes, underwear, shoes, sanitary products and educational materials.
*To pressure Israel to allow unobstructed family visits by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to their relatives in Israeli jails. Most importantly, these visits should take place unobstructed by glass or other barriers.
*To increase the visibility of the work of the ICRC to the Palestinian public, in particular the actions you carry out around the above measures. This should be done in much closer coordination with Palestinian human rights organizations.
While I understand fully the ICRC concerns over confidentiality in regards
to your work, I would appreciate an official response to these concerns.
I seek some indication that the ICRC is aware of these concerns and is taking steps to address them. If these complaints over the ICRC mission are inaccurate and unrepresentative of your activities then I would greatly appreciate further clarification.