“Prisoner of conscience” Ahmad Qatamesh to be detained another 6 months without charge

Amnesty International is calling for urgent action after an Israeli military commander renewed the administrative detention order against Ahmad Qatamesh by another six months last week.

The Palestinian writer and academic has been held without charge since 21 April, when Israeli soldiers raided his family’s home, holding his family members hostage at gunpoint until Qatamesh, who was not home at the time, surrendered himself.

Ahmad’s daughter, Hanin Ahmad Qatamesh, describes in an article for The Electronic Intifada how Israeli soldiers invaded her family’s home in the middle of the night:

They pointed their machine guns at us and told us they wanted to search the house. My 14-year-old cousin, Nai, and 69-year-old aunt were sleeping inside. Without thinking, I rushed to my room to alert Nai so that she would not wake up with a gun pointed at her face. That was the most haunting experience in my own traumatic childhood, when Israeli forces arrested my father many years earlier.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada correspondent Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, Suha Barghouti, a human rights activist and wife of Ahmad Qatamesh, said: “It’s so clear that he is there because of his ideas and political activism. He is a prisoner of conscience and he is there because of political reasons”

Amnesty International also describes Qatamesh as a possible prisoner of conscience.

In its 9 September action alert Amnesty states:

Amnesty International is concerned that he may be detained solely for the peaceful expression of his political views, in which case the organization would consider him a prisoner of conscience. According to his wife and his lawyer, he has been interrogated for no more than a total of 10 minutes since his arrest on 21 April.

Amnesty adds:

Ahmad Qatamesh is an academic and writer who has previously criticized both the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Authority. Arrested by the IDF in 1992, he was held for over a year before being placed under administrative detention after a judge had ordered his release on bail. He reported that he was tortured during his interrogation, and he later documented his experiences in a publication called I shall not wear your tarboosh (fez]. His administrative detention order was renewed repeatedly until he was eventually released on 15 April 1998. During these years, Amnesty International members campaigned against his continued detention without charges.

Amnesty urges that action be taken by sending appeals before 21 October 2011 by sending appeals to Israeli military authorities and diplomatic representatives.



Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.