From a Prisoner of Conscience in an Israeli Prison

Jewish Peace News, 20 June 2010
The letter below, from human rights defender, Ameer Makhoul, was released and distributed today by Makhoul’s family and friends. It was written on May 30th, after Makhoul had spent 3 weeks in prison without access to even pen and paper, not to speak of lawyers, family visits, due process, humane and legal conditions. It made it’s way to his home by snailmail and then the original Arabic was translated into English.

Like many other citizens of Israel—both Jewish and Palestinian—who have held repeated protests against Makhoul’s imprisonment as well as that of Omar Said, I believe that that “Makhoul is being detained and severely harassed for exercising his right, under Israel’s Basic Laws, to free speech and political expression,” as pseudonymous publicist “Moshe Yaroni” put it (see previous JPN posting on the topic at: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com/2010/05/is-israeli-democracy-losing-ground.html). Amnesty International has called on Israeli authorities to stop Makhoul’s mistreatment (see: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/israel-must-stop-harassment-human-rights-defender-2010-05-12).

As a long time activist, here in Israel, I am both dismayed and determined these days; Dismayed at how the state I share in proceeds, with great speed, to discard remaining vestiges of democratic governance. Determined to continue resisting this process with all the means at the disposal of activists and civil society.

For comprehensive information on the interrogation and almost definite torture of Makhoul and Said as well as contact information for taking action, see: http://freeameermakhoul.blogspot.com/. I hope that each of you will spread the information further and take action in other ways.

Rela Mazali
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May 30, 2010

Letter from Gilboa Prison, Ameer Makhoul

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 & appreciation to all the colleagues, friends and solidarity groups, organizations & persons, internationals, Arabs in the region, Israelis & Palestinians in the homeland & in the Diaspora. A very special salute to all those who visited my family and supported them after the trauma they passed in May 6 & since that late night.

It’s a moment to express my great appreciation to all the international & local human rights organizations which raised their voices loudly.

Also to Ittijah 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 & 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 & a supporter 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 & trial procedures.

The abuse of evidence & 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” & 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 & solidarity. I look to it as a very essential & crucial message of support 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.

Sincerely,

Ameer Makhoul

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Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
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Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com