This weekend marks the second anniversary of the arrest of Palestinian civil society leader and Israeli citizen Ameer Makhoul. Makhoul has been convicted by Israel of trumped-up security charges on the basis of a coerced confession.
Makhoul’s wife, Palestinian activist Janan Abdu, and representatives of the international organizations that Makhoul worked with as the head of the Palestinian civil society umbrella group Ittijah recently spoke out to The Electronic Intifada about Makhoul’s unjust imprisonment and his advocacy for Palestinian rights and liberation.
Today 25 organizations from around the globe are adding their voices to the call to free Ameer Makhoul. The statement is being circulated by the South Africa-based group CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. The full statement follows:
Israel government should free Ameer Makhoul on the second anniversary of his arrest
More than 25 organisations around the world have combined to urge Israel to free imprisoned human rights defender Ameer Makhoul on the second anniversary of his arrest.
Ameer has been in prison since May 2010. On 1 May 2012, Ameer was transferred from Gilboa prison to another jail in Majido, allegedly as punishment for participating in a hunger strike to highlight the conditions of political prisoners in Israel. His family was not informed, and only found out about the move when they tried to visit him at Gilboa prison. The transfer of Ameer to Majido adds to the harassment being faced by his family by making it difficult for them to reach him.
Ameer has been Director of Ittijah: Union of Arab Community-Based Associations since it was established in 1995. He has also served as Chair of the Public Committee for the Defence of Political Freedoms of Arab Citizens in Israel, in addition to being a prolific writer on political, social and civil society issues in Israel.
The circumstances surrounding Ameers arrest by Israels Shin Bet security agency, and the consequent failure by the Israeli government to follow the due process of law immediately after his arrest, smack of harassment and political interference.
On 6 May 2010, 16 agents from Shin Bet burst into Ameers home in the middle of the night, searched it and confiscated laptops, hard drives, cell phones and a camera belonging to his family. Following his arrest, Ameer was detained incommunicado for 12 days, given no explanation of the charges against him and denied access to a lawyer. His detention was later extended by a court order and he was granted access to his legal team only after they threatened not to attend his detention extension hearing in court.
Ameer was subjected to intense interrogation sessions and charged with assisting an enemy in time of war, and contact with a foreign agent, which he denied. Under severe pressure from Israeli agents, in October 2010, Ameer entered a plea bargain stating that he contacted a foreign agent and conspired to assist an enemy [Hezbollah] in a time of war. As a result of the plea bargain, the more serious charge of assisting an enemy in war which carried a life sentence was withdrawn by the prosecution. He was sentenced to nine years in prison with an additional years suspended sentence.
We believe that Ameer Makhoul is a prisoner of conscience whose work to defend human rights in Israel has been wrongly curtailed. As such he should be immediately and unconditionally released to prevent the continuation of this travesty of justice.
Issued on behalf of:
Les Alternatifs, France
Arab NGO Network for Development, Lebanon
Associacion pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucia, Spain
Association des Travailleurs Maghrebins de France, France
Association France Palestine Solidarite, France
The Association of NGOs, the Gambia
Une Autre Voix Juive, France
Bahraini Transparency Association, Bahrain
Campagne Civile pour la Protection Internationale du Peuple Palestinien, France
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Collectif Judo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Paix, France
The Committee on Justice and Peace in Palestine and the Middle East of the 5th Arrondissement of Paris, France
Frantz Fanon Foundation
The Gathering of the CSOs in Saida, Lebanon
Mouvement Contre le Racisme et pour l’Amiti entre les Peuples, France
Nigerian Network of NGOs, Nigeria
Pakistan NGO Forum, Pakistan
Palestinian NGO Network, Palestine
Le Parti Communiste Franais, France
Plataforma de Solidaridad con Palestina de Sevilla, Spain
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, UK
Sudanese Civic forum, Sudan
United Civilians for Peace
Union Juive Francaise pour la Paix, France
Union Syndicale Solidaires, France
United French Jewish for peace, France
Women in Black, Strasbourg, France
Workers’ Communist Party of France, France