A few weasel words from EU as Adnan nears death

The wife, daughters and father of Khader Adnan walk out from Ziv Hospital in the city of Safed, after visiting Adnan, 15 February 2012.

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As Khader Adnan begins the 62nd day of his hunger strike, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton might finally say something about his suffering.

Two days after I contacted Ashton’s office requesting an urgent comment, I was told this morning that “there is actually a statement in the making.”

I wasn’t told when the statement will be issued but Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Ashton, did make the following remarks:

The EU requests the government of Israel to do all it can to preserve the health of Mr Adnan and handle this case while abiding by all legal obligations under international law. The EU reiterates its longstanding concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge. Such a procedure should be used only in exceptional circumstances, and without prejudice to the rights of detainees under international and national laws, in particular their right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and their right to a fair trial.

Well, isn’t that a pathetic response? Unlike the Carter Center (founded by former US president Jimmy Carter) and Amnesty International, Ashton’s team is not calling for Adnan to be immediately released or charged, merely asking Israel to “do all it can” to preserve his health. And Ashton accepts that administrative detention may be used under certain unspecified circumstances, even though it abuses the right of prisoners to know why they are in custody and to a fair and prompt trial.

Resembling Blair

Ashton’s stance resembles that of her mentor Tony Blair. As Britain’s prime minister in 2003, Blair secretly recommended that members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be interned without trial in Palestine. Blair’s advice originally came from MI6, the UK intelligence service.

This indicates that Britain’s political elite continues to have an imperial mindset. Internment without trial was not only a monstrous injustice when it was imposed in the North of Ireland during the 1970s, it needlessly stoked the flames of conflict there.

Internment without trial is a synonym for administrative detention.

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Of course, detention without charge is completely unacceptable in a country that is governed on the principles of the rule of law. But the problem the EU faces - and that means Mrs. Ashton in this context - is the fact that there are EU Member States who do just that. Only recently, the case of Abu Qatadar in the UK came to prominence. Whatever he has done, the fact that he was detained for years without charge must be wrong and puts the UK in the awkward position of finding it impossible to criticize similar behaviour on the part of other countries. That's why Mrs. Ashton explicitly endorses administrative detention when she says: 'Such a procedure should be used only in exceptional circumstances'. Once EU Member States remember that the rule of law has to apply to everyone - including people we disagree with and people who we think have broken the law - then we will be in a much stronger position to speak with authority and to act on that basis.

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Quite right. No satisfactory explanation has ever been given to explain quite how somebody can be so dangerous as to be detained for such long periods, while seemingly insufficient evidence exists to actually charge them with anything.

And the notion that 'release' is anything but a semantic trope is difficult to sustain when Qatada is now being held for 22 hours a day as part of a Kafkaesque control order. Is there really no other means to address this situation?

I watched My Enemy's Enemy this morning, on how the CIA used Klaus Barbie after WWII. He was eventually captured and brought to France for trial, his victims confronted him in court, he was given his due process and duly sentenced. Somehow, we are meant to believe that legal processes that were suitable for Nazis guilty of the most serious crimes against humanity are now somehow insufficient for dealing with the Qatadas of the world.

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You are correct, of course, but have missed a hugely important point: Adnan is dying in jail because he is not Jewish. The state of Israel tolerates Jewish critics but imprisons, deports, or executes non-Jewish critics. Israel has no religious freedom because it has "established religion." Until Israel unhinges Judaism from its government, every non-Jew will suffer the loss of civil rights.

If folks want to explore the effects of "established religion" and the Religious Diversity in I/P they need to come with me and Dr. Coffman on our tour. Check-out the itinerary at http://www.mtstravel.com/tours... .

David Cronin

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David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013). His earlier book is Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2011).