The Palestinian human rights group Addameer issued an appeal today urging supporters to take action on the administrative detention of Palestinian political scientist and writer Ahmad Qatamesh (the full appeal is below).
Qatamesh has been held in administrative detention after he was arrested on 21 April in the middle of the night. Hanin Ahmad Qatamesh, the detained writer’s daughter, described in an article for The Electronic Intifada how Israeli soldiers invaded their family home in Ramallah. Hanin and other relatives in the home were held hostage as Israeli soldiers demanded the surrender of Ahmad, who was not at home at the time. The Electronic Intifada also interviewed Qatamesh’s wife, Suha Barghouti, a well-known human rights defender.
Amnesty International is concerned that Ahmad Qatamesh is being detained for the peaceful expression of his political views and therefore a prisoner of conscience.
Ahmad Qatamesh was arrested by the IDF in 1992 and reportedly tortured. He documented his experiences in a publication called “I shall not wear your tarboosh [fez]”. Over a year later he was placed under administrative detention after a judge had ordered his release on bail. After repeated administrative detention orders, he was eventually released on 15 April 1998.
The full action appeal from Addameer follows:
As part of its recently launched Prisoners at Risk campaign, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association demands the immediate release of Ahmad Qatamish, a well-known political scientist and writer currently held without charge or trial by Israel. The duration of his administrative detention has been set at 4 months, due to expire on 2 September 2011.
Addameer believes that the arrest and detention of Ahmad Qatamish has all the hallmarks of arbitrary detention and is aimed at silencing this prolific writer for his unbridled criticism of the Israeli occupation. Ahmad was arrested on 21 April 2011 in the middle of the night following a raid on his house whilst he was away, in which his wife, daughter, and two other relatives - including a 14-year-old girl - were held hostage by Israeli troops in order to compel him to surrender himself. Since then there has been a catalogue of serious errors and malpractice by the Israeli authorities. Ahmad was held for 13 days - during which time he was interrogated for only 10 minutes - before being informed on 3 May that he would be placed in administrative detention; despite the fact that both he and his lawyer had been told by the Military Court that he would be released that very day. Ahmad’s original administrative detention order was found to be flawed and had to be re-written twice, and even now the order is based on the vague accusation that he is an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - a charge he has consistently and vehemently denied. As the order is based on a secret file which is not accessible to Ahmad or his lawyer, it is impossible for Ahmad to know how to defend himself against any possible charges.
This is not the first time Ahmad has been placed in administrative detention. In the 1990s, he was held for five-and-a-half years without charge or trial, making him one of the longest held administrative detainees in Israeli prisons. For more information about Ahmad’s case, you can read his profile here and follow updates on his detention on facebook.
The Prisoners at Risk campaign aims to highlight cases which raise grave concern and require urgent action. Without international pressure, there is the real risk that Ahmad’s administrative detention order will be renewed again in September. You can help stop this from happening by joining our campaign and doing one of the following:
- Use our template letter to the Israeli authorities to call for Ahmad’s immediate and unconditional release;
- Write to your own government and representatives to call on them to pressure Israel to release Ahmad (if you are a EU citizen, you can use our template letter to members of the European Parliament);
- Organize a vigil or a demonstration to call for Ahmad’s release;
- Write to Ahmad in prison (postal address: Ofer Prison, Givat Zeev, P.O. Box 3007, via Israel);
- Show your support by following Ahmad on Facebook.