Saturday, March 06, 2010

Israel: End arbitrary detention of anti-wall activists

Source: Human Rights Watch (HRW) - Peaceful Advocates Detained on Spurious Charges, Denied Due Process

(Jerusalem) - Israel should immediately end its arbitrary detention of Palestinians protesting the separation barrier, Human Rights Watch said today. Israel is building most of the barrier inside the West Bank rather than along the Green Line, in violation of international humanitarian law. In recent months, Israeli military authorities have arbitrarily arrested and denied due process rights to several dozen Palestinian anti-wall protesters.

Israel has detained Palestinians who advocate non-violent protests against the separation barrier and charged them based on questionable evidence, including allegedly coerced confessions. Israeli authorities have also denied detainees from villages that have staged protests against the barrier, including children, access to lawyers and family members. Many of the protests have been in villages that lost substantial amounts of land when the barrier was built.

"Israel is arresting people for peacefully protesting a barrier built illegally on their lands that harms their livelihoods," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech by bringing spurious charges against demonstrators, plus detaining children and adults without basic due process protections."

Demonstrations against the separation barrier often turn violent, with Palestinian youths throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. Israeli troops have regularly responded by using stun and tear gas grenades to disperse protesters, and the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has documented the Israeli military's use of live and rubber-coated bullets on several occasions. Violence at demonstrations may result in the arrest of those who participate in or incite violence, but it does not justify the arrest of activists who have simply called for or supported peaceful protests against the wall, Human Rights Watch said.

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