Belfast, Ireland: declaration on Palestinian prisoners

20 May

 

media release by UFree Network

20 May 2012

report abridged

Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This represents approximately 20% of the total population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and 40% of all males.

Despite prohibition by international law, Israel detains Palestinians in prisons throughout Israel, far from their families. The latter almost never obtain the necessary permits to visit their imprisoned relatives.

Since 1967, Israel has detained 10,000 Palestinian women. Women prisoners endure inhumane conditions including shackling during childbirth and an ongoing lack of gynecological care. Today, 37 female Palestinian prisoners continue to be held in Israeli prisons. Most are elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and, thus, are clearly political prisoners.

This conference on the Plight of Palestinian Prisoners in Israel Prisons was convened by UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine on 19 May 2012. We have gathered in Belfast uniting elected representatives, former prisoners, prisoners’ relatives and human rights activists.

We heard speeches from former prisoners and Palestinian human rights activists on the conditions facing Palestinians in Israeli jails.

We learned of:

  • The detention of Palestinians for more than five years without trial.

  • The widespread use of solitary confinement for many years at a time.

  • The denial of family visits for many years on end.

  • The imprisonment of Palestinian children and, on occasions, the use of these child prisoners as hostages to pressure their families.

  • Threats and practice of sexual harassment.

  • Abduction of elected Palestinian parliamentarians.

Conference concludes that the conditions facing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails constitute cruel and inhumane treatment, and that such conditions breach numerous aspects of international law.

We pledge our support to UFree Network’s international campaign to highlight and challenge the abuse of Palestinian prisoners’ human rights and those of their families.

The conference decides to form a broad-based working group in Ireland.

The group will work on the following:

  • Spread awareness about the issue of Palestinian prisoners.

  • Exert political pressure on both the Israeli occupation and international governments.

  • Offer appropriate legal support and rehabilitation for former prisoners.

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