In Guantanamo Bay… Palestinian activists protest against their continued prosecution
Ramallah – In front of the court complex in the city of Al-Bireh (central West Bank), Abu Al-Aboudi – one of the opinion activists who is being tried by the Palestinian Authority – stood in full orange, calling for the suspension of his trial procedures, “which contradict the Basic Palestinian Law and the international agreements to which the Palestinian Authority is committed.” It gives any citizen the right to express his opinion.
Al-Aboudi tells Al-Jazeera Net that this stand is a protest against the continued trial of activists who were arrested against the backdrop of protest rallies against the killing of activist Nizar Banat, and the length of court procedures.
He added, “We are prisoners of conscience. The basic principle is that the security personnel who attacked our rights and the leaders who allowed them to be arrested will be tried.”
Al-Aboudi is being tried on charges brought against him after his arrest last September, which are illegal demonstrations and slander against the ruling authority.
“We are protesting in order to respect the rights of the citizen, and because we need a comprehensive change in society,” he says.
During the court session, the judge postponed the consideration of Al-Aboudi’s case, which is expected to be the fate of the next session.
Threatening to boycott the courts
Al-Aboudi is not confined to him. He gathered 15 activists defending freedom and justice who are still being tried before the Palestinian judiciary on charges similar to his, after their arrest during the marches that followed the killing of activist Nizar Banat last June by the security services.
The activists wore the orange dress, in reference to the injustice done to them, as they said, which is the uniform that Israel had imposed on the Palestinian prisoners in the past, and they struggled with their empty intestines until they succeeded in changing it in the late eighties, and then returned in 2008 to try to impose it after it was used by the United States in Guantanamo Bay is notorious for grave human rights violations against detainees.
During the vigil, the activists read a press release in which they declared their rejection of the procrastination pursued by the executive authority, security services and the Public Prosecution in dealing with their cases.
They demanded that a short time limit be set for the completion of their files, threatening to suspend attendance at the upcoming court sessions and to resort to other procedures to ensure their fairness.
For his part, the lawyer who follows up on the cases of these activists, Muhannad Karajah, said that the authority uses the trial of activists and the delay in deciding their files as a punitive tool against them. These sessions are repeated monthly, and some of them represent 5 times per month.
Karajeh added that “this delay is outside the guarantees of a fair trial.”
Most of the charges brought against the activists are summed up in defamation and slander against the authority, illegal assembly, and inciting sectarian strife, which are classified as political charges and incompatible with human rights, and Karajeh says that “the aim of these charges is to create an excuse to arrest and punish the activists.”
Violation of international conventions
These trials highlight the Palestinian Authority’s non-compliance with international conventions, according to a researcher in the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability, “Aman” Jihad Harb.
In his speech to Al Jazeera Net, Harb indicates that the Palestinian Authority’s failure to adhere to these agreements weakens and harms its image with regard to human rights and freedom of expression, not only the image of the authority – says Harb – but rather harms the Palestinian struggle related to confronting the Israeli occupation as the greatest injustice, and therefore the image of the oppressed Palestinian people before the international community.