Palestinians for Dignity close EU office, demand support for hunger striking prisoners

The following statement was issued by Palestinians for Dignity, a Palestinian youth organization that sat in at the European Union building, EUPOL COPPS – an EU entity that funds and trains Palestinian Authority police – to protest recent EU free-trade agreements with Israel, and demand that the EU take a clear position to free the Palestinian hunger striking prisoners. Former prisoner and hunger striker Khader Adnan sent a message of support to the youth, saying that “The Palestinian youth closure of the European Union police agency headquarters in Ramallah on Friday morning in support of the prisoners and in rejection of international silence is a blessed action of which all must be conscious.” Former prisoner and at one point the longest serving prisoner in Israeli prisons, Nael Barghouthi, came to the protest to offer his support. 

Occupied Ramallah, September 21 2012—On Friday, the youth group Palestinians for Dignity organized a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS) on Tokyo Street, Ramallah in protest of a series of decisions undertaken by the EU to develop trade and diplomatic relations with the occupying state of Israel.

The most notable decision came after the International Trade Commission in the European Parliament voted in favor of upgrading trade relations based on the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA), which would remove barriers to trade between Israel and EU member states in industrial products, especially in the pharmaceutical sector.

Additionally, the protest condemns the EU’s passive stance on the issue of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and particularly those prisoners on hunger strike; in a statement issued by the EU after 116 days of Samer Barq’s heroic hunger strike, the European Union expressed its “concern” on the health of the detainee and the occupation’s use of administrative detention, without addressing any of the state of Israel’s violations of international law, or demanding the immediate release of detainees and prisoners on strike.

Through these stances, the European Union has given the occupying state the green light to continue violating the rights of the Palestinian people both individually and collectively through the development of its relations, and ignores the issues of the Palestinian people who are struggling for freedom, dignity and the right of return, which is seeks to shamefully ignore by supporting the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian police.

All forms of financial support to the Palestinian Authority is meaningless, as simultaneously, the EU offers unconditional political support to the apartheid state. If anything, this indicates that the European Union is participating in supporting and prolonging the Israeli occupation, and thus is a tacit partner in flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.

We, as Palestinian youth and Palestinians in general, categorically reject the EU’s hypocritical and duplicitous positions towards the Palestinian people and our rights. It’s time for the EU to pronounce that it will abide by its obligations under international law and defend human rights the EU’s own regulations, or to be clear about its support for brutal occupation, colonialism and apartheid.

Palestinians for Dignity have previously demanded the EU to review its policies through a statement released on July 30, 2012, warning that they will escalate their actions to include direct confrontation with those who facilitate the work of the occupation and normalization.

From here, we once again urge the European Parliament not to adopt the above-mentioned trade agreement at its next session in October, and we demand:

1)    For the EU to issue a press statement demanding the occupying entity to immediately release the detainees on hunger strike, and they are: Samer Barq who continues his hunger strike for the 123rd day respectively; the administrative detainee Hassan Safadi who has been on hunger strike for 93 days and has stopped drinking water since 4 days ago; and the seven prisoners who were released in last year’s prisoners’ exchange deal who have been rearrested by Israeli forces, and they are: Samer al-Issawi, Ibrahim Abu Hijleh, Ayman Shawarnah, Yousef Shteiwi, Iyad Abu Fanoun, and Ali Zaidat.

2)    For the EU to review its existing partnership agreement with the occupying power to ensure that it complies with its legal humanitarian obligations and EU regulations.

3)    For the European Union to investigate and stop the work of all European businesses benefiting from the occupation and colonial settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, at the expense of the Palestinian people and their rights.

We, Palestinians for Dignity, confirm our determination to escalate our protests if the European Union does not respond to our demands quickly and unequivocally.

Long Live Free Palestine

Palestinians for Dignity