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Gush Shalom: Silence In The Court


Gush Shalom

[] Silence in the court - by Amira Hass [] Letter to General Finkelstein by PCATI [] Grinberg case: do professors have the same rights to freedom of speech [] Back to the Rabin Square

[In the following, a very disturbing article of Amira Hass about Palestinian prisoners being beaten up in the courtroom in front of their family members and lawyers. We let it follow by a not directly related letter of protest (the most recent out of a near-daily series) by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. And the case of Lev Grinberg is there to prove that violation of rights and freedoms doesn't stop at the Green Line - for those who didn't yet realize. To end on a less somber note: it seems that the Likud hardliners have given new energy to the Geneva Initiative: The Peace Now/Geneva Initiative circles announced a mass rally at the Tel-Aviv Rabin Square for coming Saturday evening.]

[] Silence in the court - by Amira Hass

Ha’aretz Friday, May 7, 2002

Silence in the court

Palestinian detainees who tried to greet their families in a military courtroom were set upon and beaten by police guards, their lawyers say. Here is their testimony

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/424687.html

Hebrew: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=424599

By Amira Hass

The lawyers who were sitting in the waiting room at the Military Court at the Ofer Israel Defense Forces base, southwest of Ramallah, suddenly heard a scream. This was on Sunday, May 2, at around 1 P.M. They ran out. "I saw a heap of policeman, maybe eight or 10 of them, flailing and flailing, and I could see some heads, legs, arms of the beaten detainees, maybe three of them, or four, who were lying on the floor. The lawyers shouted `Why? Why? Why?' and the police officer in charge shouted, `Guys, guys, get all the lawyers out of here,' related attorney Khaled Kuzmar of Ramallah.

Attorney Faiz al-Shami of Be'er Sheva was inside the courtroom (which is located in a prefabricated structure) when it all began, and tells this story: "There were five detainees in the courtroom. The families were also there. One of the detainees - I don't know his name - was talking to his family, to his mother. He was standing there and speaking from a distance. A policeman (prison service official) said to the detainee: `Don't talk. Sit down. I decide what happens here,' and they began to argue. The policeman sat him down forcibly, pushed him down onto the bench. After he pushed him, the detainee stood up again. The other detainees stood up to tell him to let him talk to his family and then about 10 policemen came in. They attacked the people and a whole mess broke out. One of the policemen, an older man, who came from outside, tried to calm things down and spread his hands on one of the detainees to get him to sit down. But the rest of the policemen got the detainees out of there by hitting them, dragged them outside and closed the door. The family members were crying. The judge wasn't in the courtroom. Only the military prosecutor, the interpreter, the stenographer and some lawyers. We couldn't do anything to get them to stop hitting."

Attorney Saleh Ayoub of Jerusalem was also in the military courtroom. "Six detainees came in, and they were seated in their places. They were accompanied by a police unit. One of the detainees who was sitting in the middle stood up and waved hello to his mother, from a distance. There was no chance that he could touch her. The detainees sit behind a low fence. The families sit on the benches at the rear. There are soldiers separating them. The detainee waved, the policeman grabbed him by the neck and sat him down by force. The detainee asked: `What are you doing?' and the policeman cried out, `They're rioting, they're rioting.' Reinforcements of policemen came, and they beat them. The families, from a distance, were crying. They couldn't do a thing. They too were immediately ejected."

Ahmad Yusuf, 18, of the Aida refugee camp, was among the detainees who were beaten. He has been under arrest at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem since March 25. On Sunday afternoon, lawyers Mohammed Shadsan of Al-Aroub and Khaled al-Araj from Wallaja, transcribed what the beaten men had to say about the sequence of events.

Yusuf: "I was standing in the detainees' block and I tried to talk to my mother. The policeman yelled at me, `Sit down!' and pressed my body hard until I sat. He tore my shirt. A group of policemen came and began to beat me, dragging me and throwing me outside the courtroom. One of them shoved me with his foot out of the courtroom. I bumped into the fence that is opposite the gate, I was thrown into a corner and the policeman [Yusuf gave his name, which he had read on his tag - A.H.] said to his colleagues that I had caused the problem. They began to kick me all over my body, on my face and on my chest. Then they handcuffed me and led me to the vehicle, still beating me on the way."

Muhammad Karaja of Bethlehem, 19, who has been under arrest at the Russian Compound since March 15, also tried to talk to his mother: "My hands and my feet were tied. Because of the attempt to talk to my mother, who was in the courtroom, I was attacked and hit hard. The policemen took me outside and threw me down the stairs. I rolled on the floor so my face was down and they hit me with their feet and stepped on me and I didn't have the strength to resist so many policemen and their officer also participated in the beating."

Adnan Nasser, 26, of the Balata refugee camp, has been under arrest since March 11. He told the lawyers: "I was in the detainees' block. Next to me was another detainee by the name of Ahmad Lutfi, whose mother was in the courtroom, and he tried to talk to her. I also stood up, trying to talk to my mother. And then the story began. When they ordered us to sit down and stop talking several times, a policeman tried to press his body until they made him sit down and they tore his shirt. Then other policemen came and began to beat the detainees in the courtroom. The commander of the unit asked me to sit down and while I was talking to him the policemen began to eject us and hit us and throw us, one after the other, out of the courtroom. I spoke to the commander and I tried to tell him that I have had kidney surgery, and that the scars are clear, but he didn't answer me and also hit me in the face. The soldiers continued to beat me, and I'm lying on the ground. After that they tied my hands and dragged me to the car, hitting me all the time and threatening us with weapons."

Munjid Suleiman, 23, from Beit Our al-Tahta, has been held at the Russian Compound since March 18. He related that during the beating, one of the policemen also cocked his weapon near him. "I was beaten on my right knee and on my back and also in the area of my right eye," he said.

Ismail al-Farajin of Al-Aroub, 39, has been under arrest since March 18. He told the lawyers that one of Ahmad Yusuf's relatives came into the courtroom, Ahmad waved hello to him, and after him all the families came in and we all waved to our families ... Suddenly the battle began. We found ourselves forcibly ejected from the courtroom. I was pushed against the wall opposite. At first I was hit once, but I didn't fall to the ground. Only after they dragged us to the car did they beat me really hard, especially on my right ear and on my back."

Iyad Abu Jouda, 32, of the Deheisheh refugee camp, has been under arrest at the Russian Compound since February 24. He was sitting on a chair outside the fenced detainees' block (where there is room for five, but usually six detainees at a time are brought into the courtroom). "I saw one of the two soldiers who were in the courtroom attacking Ahmad and pushing him hard against the wall. All of a sudden, they all came in. Another force came in and then they pushed me straight until they had shoved me out of the courtroom. I fell on the ground, and before that one of them aimed his weapon at me and cocked it and I was very scared. They pulled me by my hair out the door of the courtroom into the cell [a small room where the detainees are held - A.H.] and then they shackled my hands with handcuffs. Until they put us into the vehicle they didn't beat me, but I saw them beating the others. The commander of the unit who was with me asked the soldiers (policemen) to stop hitting, but they didn't listen to him."

Ofer Leffler, Prison Service spokesman: "The fighters of the Nahshon Unit of the Prison Service, who are in charge of the terrorists, the security detainees in the military prisons, overcame six terrorists who started to riot in the Military Court at Camp Ofer. The six terrorists who were present in the courtroom tried to make (physical) contact with members of their families and this is contrary to the Prison Service standing orders and regulations. As a result of the terrorists' activities, a disturbance started in the courtroom. It was lead by the families and the terrorists. After a brief struggle the terrorists were taken out of the courtroom and transferred to the holding cells. The families were ejected from the courtroom by the army. In light of the request by the president of the court and after things calmed down, the terrorists were brought back into the courtroom."

Immediately after the policemen stopped beating the detainees, the lawyers at the military court declared a strike, in protest against detainees being beaten on military court premises. Therefore, the lawyers do not know whether the beaten detainees were indeed brought back into the courtroom.

According to the lawyers, the vice president of the Military Court of Appeals, Yoram Hanniel, recommended that they complain to the department for investigating police actions. Attorney Ahmad Safiyya of Jerusalem fears that the complaint will not be dealt with. According to him, about a month ago, the lawyers wrote a letter of complaint to the president of the Military Court after a policeman beat a detainee, and have received no response. "It is the Military Court that is responsible for the fact that on its premises and in front of their parents and their lawyers, policemen beat detainees, unhindered and unrestrained," says Safiyya.

To the question of the responsibility of the Military Court for the well being of the detainees, the IDF Spokesperson's Office replied:

"Sometimes verbal clashes take place between the detainees and the forces accompanying them, which in rare cases result in the use of force. Whenever such incidents do not take place before a judge, justification for the use of force should be clarified through the usual channels.... by submitting a complaint to the police, to the department for investigating policemen or to the Military Police. Up to now, the court has received no complaint concerning the beating of detainees by policemen. In the incident of May 2, no soldiers were involved."

[] Letter to General Finkelstein by PCATI

------- Forwarded message follows ------- Date sent: Sun, 09 May 2004 12:14:45 +0200 From: Public Committe Against Torture in Israel

Hebrew at request from òáøéú òì ôé á÷ùä îàú

Our reference S/41 (Please refer to this number in your reply)

March 14, 2004

To: Major General Menachem Finkelstein Chief Military Prosecutor Military Prosecutor’s Office IDF Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909

Dear Sir,

Re: Mr. Abdallah Jamal Se’ara, ID 950326421, aged 21, Hebron resident

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has received a complaint from Mr. Se’ara. From the complaint the following transpires:

Mr. Se’ara was arrested at approximately 02:30 AM on June 18, 2003, at his home in Hebron. IDF soldiers put on handcuffs, blindfolded his eyes, and took him to the Etzion Detention Center. Mr. Se’ara alleges that the IDF soldiers purposely broke his glasses at the time of his arrest in spite of his urgent pleading not to do so. Without glasses Mr. Se’ara can barely see anything from afar. At Etzion, Mr. Se’ara alleges, he was badly beaten by the soldiers mainly on his head. Afterwards he was left on the camp’s premises, exposed to the elements, for almost a full day, from 06:00 AM to 03:00 AM the next morning.

Mr. Se’ara alleges that he asked the soldier for food and water but they refused to give him any. He was allowed to go to the toilet only once during all those hours and that, he said, only after prolonged pleading. Mr. Se’ara is currently being held at the Ofer Detention Facility.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel:

Determines that the alleged beating of Mr. Se’ara by IDF soldiers in the Etzion Detention Center is contrary to the standing prohibitions embedded in Israeli and international law, among them the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Demands the investigation ofMr. Se’ara’s complaints and the arraignment of the soldiers who participated in the beating and their commanders, if found responsible.

Demands the investigation of Mr. Se’ara’s allegations concerning the soldier who purposely broke his eyeglasses and the arraignment of the soldier in question.

Determines that the conditions in which Mr. Se’ara was allegedly incarcerated at the Etzion Detention Center, exposed to the elements, without water or food and without being allowed to use the toilet for about 24 hours, are in breach of the regulations embedded in the Penal Code (Coercive Authority – Arrests) (Incarceration conditions) 1997 and of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Stresses that the complaint lodged by Mr. Se’ara joins a long line of similar complaints in which detainees that were kept at the Etzion facility were incarcerated outside under the open sky, limited in their use of toilets, without food or water and being treated very poorly and even violently by the soldiers.

Demands the investigation of the conditions in which detainees are kept at the Detention Center and the immediate improvement thereof so as to bring them up to par with the regulations embedded in law.

We should be grateful for a rapid and efficient response and look forward to receiving the results of your investigation as soon as possible.

Respectfully yours,

Hannah Friedman Executive Director

Cc: MK Yossi Sarid Attorney Louie Ouka

[] Grinberg case: do professors have the same rights to freedom of speech

------- Forwarded message follows ------- Date sent: Sat, 08 May 2004 08:07:54 +0200 From: Lev Grinberg Subject: Haaretz and Maariv on Freedom of Speech

This week-end have been published two big articles on the academic freedom debate provoked by the Minister of Education pressure on BGU administration to "punish me" for my article "symbolic genocide". The combination of both articles present a fair picture of the debate, Haaretz giving me a voice, Maariv attacking me but also criticizing Livnat.

It seems to me that the next step of this struggle is very clear: the attempt to limit in a bureaucratic style the academic freedom by making a distinction between it and freedom of speech. This is the initiative of my University, and also of Prof. Assa Kasher that suggested to write an "ethic code" to the academic freedom (maariv). Very interestingly he is the same professor that wrote the "ethic code" for the military behaviour in the occupied territories.The same person that legitimized the targeted killings now offers his philosophic services to legitimize limitations to the freedom of speech.

It seems to me very positive that Kasher volunteered, because it facilitates to make the direct linkage between the physical repression and killing of Palestinians and the anti-democratic need to silence critics within Israel.

I am not pessimistic. Let's try to keep our Universities free of State intervention, as an autonomous basis of the civil society, and let us open the debate on the evil policies of the Government against the Palestinians. This is are two levels of one repressive regime. I assume it is the same case in the US to silence critics (as it is mentioned in both articles): there is a close linkage between the physical repression of the Iraqis and the symbolic repression of academicians, intellectuals and social movements criticizing the US Government.

Here are the URLs first in English, after in Hebrew:

http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=7049 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/424123.html

http://images.maariv.co.il/cache/ART705759.html http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=424031&contrassID=2&subContrassID=13&sbSubContrassID=0

Yours,

Lev Grinberg

[] Back to the Rabin Square

http://www.peacenow.org.il/English.asp?Redirect=5&ActivityID=556

Hebrew: http://www.peacenow.org.il/Default.asp?Redirect=5&ActivityID=555

# Ongoing struggle how to link up with anti-Wall struggle, refusnik news etc.

#Against the Wall contact addresses daily struggle / eye-witness reports

#Refusniks (prisoner addresses & links to constantly updated sites) updated refusniks lists / support to five long-time incarcerated

#Against the Wall

* ðåëçåú éåîéåîéú áëôøéí îàéîéí ò"é äçåîä ìúàí òí àééáé 064-604172 isichel@netvision.net.il àøé÷ 050-607034 info@rhr.israel.net

Day to day presence at villages threatened by route of wall. Contact: Ivy Sichel 064-604172 isichel@netvision.net.il Arik Asherman 050-607034 info@rhr.israel.net

* Daily eye-witness reports from the Occupied Territories: http://www.machsomwatch.org (Israeli women monitoring the checkpoints) http://www.palsolidarity.org/pressreleases/pressreleases.php (internationals throughout OT)

#Refusniks

Constantly-updated refusniks lists:

English - http://www.yesh-gvul.org/english/prison/ Hebrew / òáøéú - http://www.yesh-gvul.org/prison/

English - http://www.newprofile.org/default.asp?language=en Hebrew / òáøéú - http://www.newprofile.org/

For the latest news about the five: http://www.refuz.org.il/News.html

Letters of support to Noam Bahat / Haggai Mattar / Matan Kaminer AGAF BET Ma’asiyaho Prison P.O.B 13 Ramla - Israel

Adam Maor / Shimri Tzameret: Hermon Prison P.O.B 4011 KFAR M’RAR - Israel

-- http://www.gush-shalom.org/ (òáøéú/Hebrew) http://www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html (English) http://www.gush-shalom.org/arabic/index.html (selected articles in Arabic)

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