Hamas official addresses NGO seminar on the fringes of the HRC’s 19th Session (UN WATCH) 03/19/12)
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Several news outlets reported today that a Hamas official addressed
the UN Human Rights Council. The truth was more prosaic: Hamas
representative Ismail al-Ashqar was invited to speak to a seminar
on “Arresting Parliamentarians” organized by a Sudanese NGO. Al-
Ashqar did not speak before the HRC plenary session, but rather to a
virtually empty room, as the accompanying picture attests. Below are
highlights of his testimony.
As you know, kidnapping parliamentarians is an anti-democratic and
political crime. After the success of our union, the Israeli
occupation forces took over 50 MPs as well as the president of our
authority. It is an unprecedented use of kidnapping, and women MPs
were also kidnapped. The kidnapping operation was a flagrant and
clear violation against humanity and democracy and the immunity of
parliament. From the first stage of kidnapping, not only
incarceration, we thought these were political arrests. Their
objective was to put parliamentarians in jail and to prevent their
movement and stop them from assuming their positions.
These kidnapped MPs spent more than four years in prison, where they
were tortured and humiliated because they were elected symbols. They
suffered in jail and spent a long part of the Palestinian legislative
authority’s term in prison. Kidnapping MPs is a crime still committed
and used by the Israeli authorities, who are arresting new ones
again: 24 were kidnapped. The president was arrested and tried and
one of my colleagues specialized in administrative detention will
tackle this issue.
During 2011 there have been more violations against the Palestinian
people by the authorities of the occupying Israelis. I want you to
notice, when we approach an agreement between Fatah and Hamas we have
more violations and kidnappings. In 2011 Hamas and Fatah began a
dialogue and 80 MPs were kidnapped. Many were arrested and kidnapped
and then contacted the Red Cross. After a year and a half of
detention, they were arrested once again. This is a clear violation.
They were imprisoned, detained, and exiled, far away from their place
Fifty administrative decisions were taken against MPs, but these
decisions have no judicial basis, no moral basis. They mean that
anyone can be arrested, kidnapped, put into jail. The detention can
be renewed and pursued. I was arrested twice. You can be arrested
five to ten times without cause. These acts must be seen as crimes
against human rights, they are a moral issue that must be tackled.
They are a violation of democracy, and we need you to condemn this
violation of international law. One man is 70 years old, was
tortured, and now is still in prison. He is leading a hunger strike,
and Israel is violating human rights and must be condemned for this.
We will speak of principles of democracy and humanitarian law, and we
must protect the Palestinian people.
Our presence is important because we defend our MP colleagues. We
were arrested and detained, and the occupation authorities are still
using these kinds of practices. We cannot organize elections if MPs
are arrested. How can we organize elections? We cannot accept these
double standards when speaking about democracy. We have democratic
MPs from Palestine still in prison and detained. This is a dangerous
case for humanity and we want to make our voice heard by all the MPs
of the world. The UN Human Rights Council should hear this and stop
the Israelis, and free the MPs urgently. This will give us a second
chance to organize elections.
We have a new commission to defend the MPs who have been arrested.
This commission is using great efforts to communicate with MPs around
the world, to let them know that the MPs are undergoing illegal
procedures when arrested. The European parliament has also spoken of
this, and the Arab parliaments also condemn the illegal and immoral
procedures done by the Israelis against the MPs. Israel for them is
like a supernatural state that refuses international recommendations,
not giving any importance to any human values. To them, the
occupation is a superman that no one can condemn, and this is why the
occupation still continues its acts of kidnapping.
The suffering of Palestinians is so great that to talk about it I
need days and days. What do you think of people living under
occupation and arrest? In the West Bank we have 550 official check
points, and Gaza is blocked and there is no free passage. I came from
the Gaza strip, and Geneva for me is nearer than Jerusalem. My
colleagues cannot go to Jerusalem. For more than 20 years I could not
go to Jerusalem. To tell you of the simple suffering we are
undergoing, we have no immunity for any MP or for children and there
are no moral principles. Israel rejects all human and moral
principles, and people can do what Israelis want only.
I am an MP and I am here defending us. I am not representing Hamas,
but the Palestinian people. Innovative illegal procedures for
violating human rights are normal for Israel. What cannot be accepted
is the fact that the international community does nothing about this.
All my friends from Hamas and Fatah have a unified position. We have
political divisions, a normal natural division, but this does not
touch our main subject issue… the problem of the arrest of MPs.
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