Families Cry Out for Palestinian Prisoners

By Eva Bartlett

“We could enter the Guinness book of records for the longest running weekly sit- ins in the world,” Nasser Farrah, from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Association, jokes dryly. Since 1995, Palestinian women from Beit Hanoun to Rafah have met every Monday outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Gaza City, holding photos and posters of their imprisoned loved ones, calling on the ICRC to ensure the human rights of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel’s 24 prisons and detention centres.

Since 2007, the sit-ins have taken on greater significance: Gaza families want Israel to re-grant them the right – under international humanitarian law – to visit their imprisoned family members. This right was taken from Gaza’s families in 2007, after the Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit was taken by Palestinian resistance from alongside the Gaza border where he was on active duty.

The sit-ins have grown, with over 200 women and men showing up weekly. On July 11, ICRC and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) helped facilitate a demonstration from the ICRC office to the unknown soldier park, Jundi, to protest the ban on Palestinians from Gaza visiting their imprisoned loved ones.

“We can’t send letters, we can’t see him, we can’t talk to him,” says Umm Ahmed of her 32-year-old son. Ahmed Abu Ghazi was imprisoned four years ago and sentenced to 16 years in Israeli prison.

“Because we have no connection with him, every Monday we go to the Red Cross. But nothing changes. Last week we slept outside the Red Cross, waiting for them to help us talk to our sons and daughters,” Umm Ahmed says.

“While our sons are in prison, their parents might die without seeing them again.”

For Palestinian prisoner Bilal Adyani, from Deir al-Balah, such was the case. On July 11, Adayni’s father died, after waiting for years to see his son again. The ICRC reports that over 30 relatives of Palestinian prisoners have died since the prison visits were cut.

Umm Bilal, an elderly woman in a simple white headscarf, walks among the demonstrators, holding a plastic-framed photo of her son when he was 16. The teen wears a black dress shirt, has combed and gelled hair, and smiles easily to the camera.

“Twenty years, ten months, he’s been in prison. I haven’t been allowed to visit him in eight years,” says Umm Bilal.

“The prison canteen should sell phone cards, clothes, or food, but Israel is making it difficult now. He wanted to study but in prison but he hasn’t been allowed.”

In December 2009, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled with the Israeli government to deny families from Gaza visitation rights to prisoners in Israeli prisons. Among the stated reasons for the Court’s decision were that “family visits are not a basic humanitarian need for Gaza residents” and that there was no need for family visits since prisoners could obtain basic supplies through the prison canteen.

In June, 2011, Israeli Prison Service is reported to have taken away various rights of prisoners, including that allowing prisoners to enroll in universities, and blocked cell phone use.

“The world is calling for Shalit to be released. But he is just one man, a soldier,” says Umm Bilal. “Many Palestinian prisoners were taken from their homes. Shalit was in his tank when he was taken. Those tanks shoot on Gaza, kill our people, destroy our land. Take Shalit, but release our prisoners.”

According to Nasser Farrah, “there are over 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including nearly 40 women and over 300 children. Seven hundred prisoners are from the Gaza Strip.”

Other estimates range from 7,500 to 11,000 Palestinian prisoners. “The ‘over 7000’ does not include the thousands of Palestinians who are regularly taken by the Israelis in the occupied West Bank, and even from Gaza, as well as those held in administrative detention for varying periods,” Farrah notes.

Under administrative detention, Palestinians, including minors, are denied trial and imprisoned for renewable periods, with many imprisoned between six months to six years.

According to B’Tselem, as of February 2011, Israel is holding 214 Palestinians under administrative detention.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prevents forcible transfers of people from occupied territory. But Israel has been doing just that since 1967, and has imprisoned over 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children according to the UN.

Aside from denial of family visits, higher education, and canteen supplies, roughly 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are believed to be seriously ill, and are denied adequate healthcare.

Majed Komeh’s mother has many years of Monday demonstrations ahead of her. Her son, 34 years old, was given a 19-year sentence, of which he has served six years.

“For the last four years I haven’t heard from him,” Umm Majed says. “He has developed stomach and back problems in prison, but he’s not getting the medicine he needs.”

Nasser Farrah says this is a serious problem. “Many have cancer and critical illnesses. Many need around-the-clock hospital care, not simply headache pills.”

A 2010-2011 report from the Palestinian Prisoners Society said that 20 prisoners have been diagnosed with cancer, 88 with diabetes and 25 have had kidney failures. “Over 200 prisoners have died from lack of proper medical care in prisons,” the report says.

One of the ways ill Palestinians end up in prison is by abduction when passing through the Erez crossing for medical treatment outside of Gaza.

“The Israelis give them permits to exit Gaza for treatment in Israel or the West bank, but after they cross through the border Israel imprisons many of them,” says Farrah.

“We are a people under occupation. We have no other options to secure our prisoners’ rights but to demonstrate in front of the ICRC. It’s their job to ensure prisoners are receiving their rights under international humanitarian law.”

Source

Israel Intensifies Suppression of Palestinian Prisoners

TEHRAN (FNA)- A prominent figure of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), who was imprisoned by Israel for 6 years, disclosed that the Zionist regime of Israel has intensified tortures and suppression of the Palestinian prisoners.

August 6 2011

“The Zionist regime is misusing developments in the region and the regime’s office in charge of governing prisons has intensified punishments and suppression of the prisoners,” Hassan Youssef, who is also a member of the Palestinian parliament told FNA in Ramallah on Saturday.

Hassan Youssef, who was released from an Israeli prison on Thursday, added that the number of the Palestinian prisoners kept in solitary confinement is on the increase, cautioning that these prisoners are living in totally inhuman conditions.

He reminded that 19 Palestinian lawmakers, including 17 Hamas-affiliated MPs, are in Israeli prisons, and called on legal bodies and institutions to play a stronger role to set them free.

Palestinian prisoners have always voiced complaint about the torturing and mistreatment of prisoners by Israeli guards.

In July, more than 20 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli Negev jail were poisoned after eating meals served in the prison’s canteen, prisoners reported.

They explained that after eating burger sandwiches from the canteen the prisoners suffered from diarrhea and vomiting after which they were carried to the prison’s clinic but the administration did not tell them about their condition.

They asked the Red Cross to intervene and demand their transfer to hospital for adequate checkup.

Also in July, thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israel staged a mass hunger strike to defend prisoners’ rights and protest against Israeli guards’ inhumane behavior.

Over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails described the strike as the beginning of a fight to defend prisoners’ rights and dignity against the unprecedented measures adopted by the Tel Aviv regime against them. Source

 

Recent

NATO raids kill 85 civilians in Libya

“Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: High Radiation Levels In America! Oklahoma City

Israel’s middle class launches mass protest at rising cost of living

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm  Comments Off on Families Cry Out for Palestinian Prisoners  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pleading Guilty after Torture-Did you really do it?

Coercion and Military Law
Does a Plea After Torture Stand?
By Spencer Ackerman
December 8 2008

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks whom the U.S. tortured, attempted to plead guilty on Monday four co-defendants to their roles in the 2001 conspiracy that killed almost 3,000 Americans. Civil libertarians wondered whether his proferred plea would be compromised by the fact of his torture and the dubious constitutionality of the military tribunals hearing the cases.

The senior counterterrorism adviser for Human Rights Watch, Jennifer Daskal, said in a statement issued by the organization that the attempted pleas by Mohammed and the other co-defendants should not be accepted before an investigation. “In light of the men’s severe mistreatment and torture, the judge should require a full and thorough factual inquiry to determine whether or not these pleas are voluntary,” said Daskal, who is at Guantanamo Bay observing the proceedings.

According to the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which governs the tribunals, evidence obtained through coercive means is inadmissible. “A statement obtained by use of torture shall not be admissible in a military commission,” states Sec. 948r, subsection B. Subsequent sections of the act, however, permits a judge to determine the admissibility of certain evidence “in which the degree of coercion is disputed,” particularly in the case of evidence obtained before passage of a 2005 law meant to safeguard the human rights of detainees.

Stacy Sullivan, another counterterrorism adviser with Human Rights Watch, said the Military Commissions Act is unclear on what happens if a guilty plea is allegedly coerced from a detainee. “It’s not clear whether a judge can accept the plea or if there has to be a jury” empaneled to accept it, she said. If the act requires the empanelment of a jury for a pretrial hearing, it would create a new complication to a process fraught with difficulty since its inception.

U.S. Army Col. Steven Hendley, the presiding judge in the case, said he would hold a separate hearing to determine whether he can, in fact, accept the pleas, Sullivan said.

Pakistani forces captured Mohammed, one of Al Qaeda’s most important operatives, in March 2003 in Rawalpindi. The CIA took custody of him shortly thereafter and placed him in an undisclosed location to interrogate him outside U.S. law and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors prisoners of war and detainees worldwide. In testimony to the Senate intelligence committee in February, Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, confirmed that CIA interrogators waterboarded Mohammed, meaning they forced water into his nostrils and mouth to restrict his breathing in an attempt to coerce Mohammed into answering their questions. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. considered the interrogation method to be uncontroversially felonious.

Mohammed was moved to Guantanamo Bay in Sept. 2006. It is unknown what sort of treatment he has received from interrogators or jailers after the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act.

The pleas appear to be the result of frustration over the fairness of the commissions process. “All of you are paid by the U.S. government. I’m not trusting any American,” Mohammed told the tribunal, according to The New York Times. McClatchy reported that the five detainees — Mohammed, his nephew Ammar al Baluchi, his deputy Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Al Qaeda trainer Walid bin Attash and Saudi detainee Mustafa al-Hawsawi — crafted their joint pleading during a rare meeting Nov. 4 that was sanctioned by Guantanamo Bay officials. Later Monday, Mohammed, al-Baluchi and bin Attash abruptly announced they would postpone entering their pleas until the competency of bin al-Shibh and al-Hawsawi to plead guilty — something Hendley questioned that morning — could be determined.

Sullivan said that basic circumstances of the military commissions give reason to suspect that the confessions are coerced — coerced either by the administration or by Mohammed. “These guys have been subjected to seven years of detention, much in secret CIA detention facilities,” Sullivan said. “We know they’ve been seriously abused and tortured. If these guys were before a real judicial process, not one that’s made up and fundamentally unfair, there would be a full hearing into what kind torture and abuse went on and whether [the pleadings] are voluntary.” She pointed out that only after Mohammed announced his refusal to cooperate with the commissions did his four co-defendants refuse their defense counsel, raising the specter of whether Mohammed coerced their pleadings.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, blasted the commissions from Guantanamo Bay, where he is observing the tribunals. “No one should be surprised that a system that allows for serial torture and abuse and holds detainees for years without charging them or granting them access to attorneys has led the defendants to capitulate and seek to plead guilty,” Romero said in a statement released by the ACLU. “Anyone who believes that this is a victory for American justice is sadly mistaken. History will show that any guilty pleas in these proceedings were the result of an inhumane, unjust process designed to achieve a foregone conclusion.”

It is unclear why Mohammed and his accomplices pleaded guilty. The U.S. has signaled its attention to seek the death penalty for all five defendants in the 9/11 conspiracy case, and so one explanation is that they are daring the U.S. to put them to death, a gambit designed to grant them the exalted status of “martyr” in some extremist circles. Another is that some measure of coercion compelled the pleadings.

Aitan Goelman, a former federal prosecutor for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, said he was unsurprised by the confessions given the detainees’ evident pride at having pulled off the attacks. “It’s not really an adversarial process if both sides are intent on proving the same thing,” Goelman said, adding that despite the “unprecedented nature” of the military commissions it was unclear to him how the pleadings could have been coerced.

The commissions have been fraught with controversy from the beginning. Several military lawyers have quit or sought reassignment from the commissions out of concerns over their basic fairness. “The military commissions are fundamentally at odds with American ideals of fairness, due process, the rule of law and justice,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. J.D. Frakt, a legal defense counsel at Guantanamo. He made his remarks in a video released Monday by the ACLU to pressure President-elect Barack Obama to keep his stated promise of closing Guantanamo Bay.

Nor was it clear that the confessions represented a moment of closure for families of the victims of 9/11. Reached on Monday afternoon, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died in the World Trade Center, said she had not heard of the pleadings and wanted to know whether the administration gave Mohammed anything in return for his admission of guilt. She did, however, say that she hoped any information about the attacks that remains classified pending Mohammed’s trial “would be swiftly released.”

Sullivan blasted the commissions as inadequate to heal the U.S.’ psychic wounds from 9/11. “When you have a confession in a process that has lost all its integrity [and] that no one believes in, the confession doesn’t have any meaning,” she said. “If we had a guilty plea in a judicial process that was real, then we’d be welcoming the guilty plea. But before a sham, that’s not very meaningful.”

Source

ACLU’s Romero Reacts to KSM Plea

Torture Might Doom Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s, Four Others 9-11 Guilty Plea

Even More Total Insanity from Guantanamo Today

9-11 Detainees Hold Off on Guilty Pleas

Amnesty on KSM

John Lear
Son of Bill Lear
Founder, creator of the Lear Jet Corporation
More than 40 years of Flying
19,000+ Total Flight Time

One Can’t do the impossible.

These people are well educated and well informed.

They like everyone else want the truth. They know that what the public was told was not what really happened.  Pilots for Truth

They are speaking out to the American people not on behalf of those who took down the buildings. We still don’t know who actually was behind 9/11. We may never know the truth.

Those who hide the truth of course are behind it.

So who has lied to the World?

People died because of the Bush Administrations lies.

People went to two war because of the Bush Administrations lies.

Over a million people have died because of lies.

Now they torture people to back up their lies.

One has to see the truth before more die needlessly.