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Samidoun participated in a conference on administrative detention organized by the European Alliance in Defence of Palestinian Detainees in Brussels, Belgium on 4 June.

conference5Charlotte Kates, the international coordinator of Samidoun, participated in a panel on legal and political approaches to administrative detention; fellow participants included Issam Bakr, member of the Higher Committee for Detainees’ Follow Up; Rania Madi of Badil; Aouda Zbidat of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Helmi al-‘Araj; Ameen Shoman; Gwenaelle Grovonius, member of the Belgian Federal Parliament; Jan Fermon, General Secretary of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; and the Free Ahmad Manasrah Campaign.

Samidoun’s intervention highlighted the colonial nature and history of administrative detention, having been established in Palestine by British colonial control and the need for political and legal challenges to confront administrative detention and the entire framework that imprisons Palestinians. Kates also noted the wide range of Palestinians held in administrative detention, including children like Hamza Hammad, NGO leaders like Eteraf Rimawi, performers like Mohammed Abu Sakha, journalists like Omar Nazzal, political leaders like Jamal Barham, and parliamentarians like Abdel-Jaber Fuquha.

She also noted that the military court system is one and the same as the administrative detention project, with the same goal of undermining and disrupting the Palestinian national liberation movement, noting cases like those of Imad Barghouthi and Khalida Jarrar transferred from administrative detention to the military courts. In conclusion, she highlighted European complicity in the imprisonment of Palestinians, despite expressions of concern regarding administrative detention, due to ongoing economic support for the Israeli state through the EU-Israel Association Agreement and joint programs like Horizon 2020, as well as ongoing contracts with G4S, the security corporation involved in Israeli prisons, detention centers, and checkpoints. She urged more action to build the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and confront attempts to criminalize it, noting the hypocrisy of a “French initiative for peace” while activists for Palestinian rights are prosecuted in France.

Zbidat discussed the situation of Palestinians in administrative detention and the military courts, noting the use of administrative detention to isolate Palestinian community leaders and prominent activists. She also highlighted the criminalization of Palestinian political activity, including all major Palestinian political parties, and noted the international conventions and human rights standards violated by administrative detention. Zbidat highlighted administrative detention as a form of torture, noting that administrative detainees are hit hard psychologically by the constant uncertainty of their release – anticipating release only to have their detention renewed, time and again.

Fermon emphasized the role of international lawyers and the IADL in working together with Palestinians in a variety of national and international levels to confront administrative detention and Israeli impunity in all areas, noting the potential use of the International Criminal Court and universal jurisdiction, alongside political struggles to bring an end to Israeli impunity for violations against Palestinian prisoners. He emphasized the necessity of unified legal and political struggle in which legal work supports political mobilization and the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, noting that this relationship to political struggle was necessary to confront US and EU support for Israeli occupation, apartheid and war crimes.

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Palestinian participants in the conference included Issa Qaraqe of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission, Mounir Mansour of the Palestinian Prisoners Committee in Occupied Palestine 1948, Qais Abdel-Karim (Abu Leila), Qaddoura Fares of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Palestinian ambassador Abdelrahim Al-Farra, Hamdan Al-Damiri of the Palestinian Community of Belgium and Luxembourg, and Fahed Abu al-Haj of the Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoners Movement Affairs, as well as conference organizers Dr. Khaled Hamad, George Rashmawi and Nader El-Sakka. Numerous conference participants highlighted and celebrated the 3 June release of Palestinian leftist leader and parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar.

International participants included Felicia Langer, renowned lawyer for Palestinian prisoners and honorary conference president; Mathilde El-Bakri, a Workers’ Party of Belgium member of the Brussels Parliament; Glen Williams of the British trade union UNISON; and parliamentarians: Annette Groth of the German Die LINKE party; Daniel Sestrajcic of the Swedish Left Party; Nikolaj Villumsen of the Danish Red-Green Party; and Ögmundur Jónasson of the Icelandic Left-Green Movement; Luis Perez, of the Association of Cubans in Madrid; among others, including parliamentarians from Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and the Basque Country.

The conference included presentations on a wide range of prisoners’ issues, with plans to follow up on building the campaign internationally against administrative detention.