During a special conference on the Palestinian detainees, held Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in Beirut â€“ Lebanon, former Palestinian political prisoner, Palestinian researcher Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, presented a detailed document regarding Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel.
IMEMCâ€™s Editor-In-Chief, Saed Bannoura, translated the document into English before the conference to ensure its submission in both English and Arabic.
The Translation was made after Mr. Ferwana contacted Mr. Bannoura as the two regularly cooperate to ensure special documents and reports regarding the suffering of the Palestinian detainees, are also made available in English.
Ferwana, who also heads the Census Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, told the IMEMC that around 300 persons, Arab and International figures, attended the conference.
Besides Mr. Ferwana, Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqeâ€™, former Attorney General of the US, Ramsey Clark, Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of detained Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi, and various former Palestinian political prisoners attended the conference.
The conference was held at the Commodore Hotel in the Lebanese Capital Beirut, on April 30, 2014.
Mr. Ferwana has website called Palestine Behind Bars, providing information and reports on Palestinian political prisoners, and the ongoing violations practiced against them.
Fulll Text Of The Document In English
In the name of God, the Most Passionate, The Most Merciful
Dear Brother, Dear Friend Maâ€™an Bashour
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First, allow me to thank you for your support, and for holding this conference in order to shed light on the struggle of Palestinian detainees in Israeli occupation prisons. And, I would also like to thank all institutions and individuals working for the cause of the detainees.
Also, please allow me to salute our detainees in Israeli occupation prisons and detention centers.
History is a living witness to what has happened in the past, when wills clashed, and one won, and its version of events won with it. Today, we read a lot about what was written in regard to the past, written by pens which were not always objective, were not always fair.
However, we should never forget that this final version â€“ of what really has happened â€“ does not happen at all until after the dust of battles has settled. And, it becomes clear who won, who was defeated. A most important account of this struggle, ongoing today, is still being written in the pages of history.
The Israeli state â€“ with the Western governments which support it â€“ is trying to write its own narrative of history, alleging that when it came to this part of the world, it found it vacant, and so settled and inhabited the land, found it bare and planted itâ€¦
The Palestinian people are trying â€“ along with Arabs and Muslims â€“ to write, in the same book, a different narrative which reveals an aggressive force that once tried to settle the land and, in doing so, removed the indigenous from their villages, to those which another nation can settle, and that the indigenous courageously fought this force and defeated it.
The history book of this region is still in its first stages â€“ its very first lines â€“ despite Israeli wishes, and the reason is simple: the battle is not yet over. Aggression is still ongoing, resistance is still ongoing, and both are still combating one another â€“ more fuel is constantly being added to this fire, unto this very day.
It is a battle, and there are always prisoners in every battle, and this is how we must deal with the issue of detainees and prisoners of war.
Throughout the years of ongoing Zionist aggression, Israel has kidnapped more than 800,000 Palestinians, including 15,000 women, in addition to dozens of thousands of children and Arab resistance fighters.
Those are general numbers regarding the arrests carried out by occupation forces. If we want to talk about the al-Aqsa Intifada of September 2000, up until this day, Israel has kidnapped more than 80,000 Palestinians, including nearly 10,000 children, and more than sixty former and current ministers and legislators.
This number also includes around 24,000 men and 1,000 women who have been held under arbitrary Administrative Detention without charge.
The Israeli army kidnaps around 3,000-5,000 Palestinians, including 700-900 children, each and every year.
Despite all that has happened, signed agreements and prisoner-swap agreements, there are still around 5,000 Palestinians imprisoned â€“ most of them are from the West Bank, and 476 of them have been sentenced to at least one life-term.
This number includes 19 women detainees, 200 children, 11 legislators and several political leaders.
As for those who are currently being held without charge, their number is now 185 held in 17 prisons and detention camps, mainly in Ramon, Nafha, Asqalan, Beâ€™er As-Sabeâ€™, Hadarim, Galboaâ€™, Shatta, Ramla, Damoun, Ha-Sharon, the Negev Detention Camp, Ofer and Majeddo.
As for the sick, those detainees denied the right to medical attention, there are more than 1,400 â€“ including 16 who are practically living in Ramla prison clinic, suffering with serious conditions; some of them disabled, some completely paralyzed.
Others have chronic conditions, and some need surgeries, besides dozens of detainees who suffer from both mental and physical conditions, and more than 25 detainees living with cancer, while Israel prevents even volunteer physicians from examining them.
This reality, besides that of which a document this size cannot even accommodate, pushes the detainees to hold repeated hunger strikes as a form of legitimate nonviolent resistance against the oppressor.
Some detainees, especially those under administrative detention, are currently striking in protest of their unacceptable living conditions, and of their illegitimate detention without charge or trial.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Vocabulary, such as â€śdetentionâ€ť, â€śprisonâ€ť, â€śimprisonmentâ€ť and â€śtortureâ€ť, became constant words in the dictionary of the ongoing Palestinian national struggle; they became part of the very ABCs of Palestinian life; imprisonment was never an exceptional practice, prisons and detention centers do not target a specific segment of the society or a specific timeframe of Israelâ€™s occupation; it targets everyone, and it happens all the time.
What is most dangerous is this harsh and cruel parallel between arrests and torture; practically every Palestinian who is imprisoned is also tortured, physically, mentally or both.
There isnâ€™t a single family in Palestine in which at least one of its members did not experience imprisonment at least one time. In fact, entire families have been imprisoned.
Dozens of thousands of Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned many times. Thousands have spent more than 10 years living in prisons, hundreds more than 20 and, some, as long as three decades, and more than half of their lives. These numbers clearly show the cruelty of what detainees are forced to endure.
As time passed, Palestine – its land and people – came to live a life behind bars, its sons shackled in prisons, its lands stolen by settlers, its villages and cities surrounded by settlements and military roadblocks, stones… and a massive apartheid Wall.
Its people suffer and endure the cruelty of imprisonment, of its shackles, are denied the right to Freedom of Movement. The Palestinian map has become embroiled with prisons, detention centers and interrogation camps.
The issue of detainees in Israeli occupation prisons grew to be a core foundation of the Palestinian cause, one of its main features, attracting all Arab and Islamic attention. It became a cause for every human rights activist and lover of democracy around the globe.
Support of this cause has become a national, legal, moral and humanitarian obligation.
This is why the Palestinian people remain steadfast in their demand for the liberation of all detainees. This is why freeing the detainees is a basic and essential condition for the resumption of the peace process.
No agreement or treaty can achieve peace in the regions without ensuring the release of all detainees.
The time has come for all Arab, regional and international efforts to unite in protecting Palestinian rights, to form legal committees of experts and specialists focused on ending Israeli violations against the thousands of detainees held in their custody, and to stop the illegitimate daily arrests which are only leading to more conflict, rather than of any sort of realistic, lasting peace.
It is time for a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic movement almost as great as that of the detainees, of their suffering amidst Israeli abuses and crimes against humanity.
We need to constantly shed light on the issue of the detainees, and their struggle. We need to keep their cause alive, and on all levels.
It is our duty to break this isolation of Arab and Palestinian detainees, to raise awareness about their cause, politically, morally and on a fundamentally human level, to act and prepare strategies which protect their legitimate struggle and legal status.
The detainees represent the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation and independence, we need to act quickly, that we may expose these continuous violations which target the human and national identity of thousands of detainees. We cannot let them fall prey to the ongoing dictation and abuses of Israelâ€™s illegitimate military laws.
Liberating the detainees is not only a national, political and humanitarian obligation; it is a vital necessity to keep the spirit of revolution alive, to keep resistance against the occupation alive.
Therefore, we recommend the following:
1. Launching an international, political and media campaign to show solidarity with Arab and Palestinian detainees, to act on their behalf and on that of their liberation.
2. To coordinate the efforts of civil social institutions in the Arab world, and in foreign countries, to explain the suffering of Arab and Palestinian detainees confined to occupation cells, to urge these institutions to pressure their governments to act for the release of all detainees.
3. To support the efforts of the Ministry of Detainees in obtaining an advisory opinion of the International Court in regard to detainees in Israeli prisons.
4. To unify the legal, political, media and human rights syntax which references the detainees, to end discrepancies in numbers, demands and speeches. We need to create a unified database which presents facts and fundamental information to those who are interested in the issue.
5. To prepare reports and studies in foreign languages, discussing in detail the issues of the detainees and of the suffering they face.
6. To support and ensure the rights of freed detainees, of those who are exiled and oppressed, to rehabilitate them professionally, both physically and mentally, to provide them with medical services, and to help them in integrating back into their society.
7. We advise specialized departments to ensure the issue of Palestinian detainees is part of the optional school curriculum, and to adopt it as a central thesis in graduation seminars and MA dissertations.
8. We recommend that the Foreign Affairs Ministry adds a special booklet regarding the detainees in all embassies and political missions around the world.
We recommend that the Foreign Affairs Ministry assigns special advisers specialized in detainees affairs in all embassies and political missions around the world.
Last but not least, I salute you, and wish you a successful conference,
With warmest thanks and wishes,
Former detainee, Researched and specialized in detaineesâ€™ affairs,
Head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees
Palestine â€“ April 2014
My personal Website â€“ Palestine Behind Bars