Ameer Makhoul is a human rights defender, the director of the Arab nongovernmental organization network Ittijah, a leading voice of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and a Palestinian citizen of Israel. He has been in Israeli detention since he was arrested from his family home in Haifa in the early morning hours of 6 May. Initially his arrest could not be reported under an Israeli gag order, and he was not allowed to see his lawyers for almost two weeks. Eventually charged with “espionage,” local and international human rights organizations have condemned Israel’s actions against him as politically-motivated persecution intended to crack down on organizing by Palestinian citizens within Israel and international solidarity. On the very day Makhoul was arrested, The Electronic Intifada published an article it had received from him days earlier, titled, “Israel’s repression of its Palestinian citizens unites us in struggle.” He wrote the following letter from Israeli detention on 30 May 2010:
After being allowed to get a pen and a piece of paper, which has been banned for the last three weeks, and after being allowed to get out of my total isolation, it’s a moment to write a short letter from my jail (Gilboa).
It’s a great opportunity for me to express my sincere thanks, greetings and appreciation to all the colleagues, friends and solidarity groups, organizations and persons, internationals, Arabs in the region, Israelis and Palestinians in the homeland and in the Diaspora. A very special salute to all those who visited my family and supported them after the trauma they passed on 6 May and since that late night.
It’s a moment to express my great appreciation to all the international and local human rights organizations which raised their voices loudly. Also to Ittijah’s partner organizations all around the world which supported my/our struggle for justice and for a fair trial in order to get to prove my innocence.
Physically I am still suffering very much but morally it’s a great feeling to know what solidarity means.
My story is that the Israeli intelligence, the Shabak, assumed something without knowing and without any evidence. I was requested and forced to explain to them in a very detailed way how exactly I did what I didn’t do, ever. In case of any logical problem for them to complete the puzzle, they have the legal tools to fill it in by so-called secret evidence, which my lawyers and I have no legal right to know about.
According to the media in Israel, I’m already guilty, a terrorist and a supporter of terror. The rule of the game here is that I’m guilty whether or not I prove that I’m not. This collective assumption is prior to court and trial procedures. The abuse of evidence and fair legal procedures are crucial. The Shabak can tell lies to the court by so-called secret evidence, banning meetings with lawyers, banning the publication of information, imposing total isolation and other very sophisticated ways of torture, which leave no direct evidence although it is very harsh (see Adalah www.adalah.org). I believe that my case is an opportunity to examine these tools as tools for the criminalization of human rights defenders.
I would like to highlight again your support and solidarity. I look to it as a very essential and crucial message of support for the victim and to stop the oppressor. Thank you. Let us continue with the way for justice, human dignity, human rights and ensuring an opportunity for a fair trial.
- “Israel indicts tortured rights activist Ameer Makhoul,” Jonathan Cook (27 May 2010)
- “Ameer Makhoul’s arrest is an assault on all Palestinians in Israel,” Janan Abdu, Issam Makhoul (26 May 2010)
- “International orgs call on Israel to immediately release rights defenders,” Euro-Mediterannean Human Rights Network, Front Line, International Commission of Jurists, The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (19 May 2010)
- “Persecution of Palestinian citizens recalls S. Africa apartheid repression,” Adri Nieuwhof and Bangani Ngeleza (19 May 2010)