Protest against LAW-TRAIN in Charleroi, Belgium faces police harassment

Original in French by Myriam De Ly at Pour La Palestine 

On Saturday, 11 March, thirty members and supporters of Plate-Forme Charleroi-Palestine gathered in the afternoon to protest the LAW-TRAIN project.

Belgium, and specifically the judicial police and KU Leuven, are collaborating with the Israeli police in the LAW-TRAIN project, which aims to develop interrogation techniques, despite the fact that Israel is regularly condemned for its use of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment during its interrogations of prisoners.

The action came as part of the international Israeli Apartheid Week.

Over 200 universities, towns and cities around the world are participating in this week of action with a common theme: 100 years of colonialism in Palestine, 100 years of popular resistance!

During the symbolic action, the participants expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and their resistance.

There are approximately 6,500 Palestinians in prison, including 69 women and 350 children.

These children are often arrested at night and can receive lengthy sentences. Children are prevented from seeing their parents for three or four months at a time, if not more. During these visits, they are denied physical contact between parent and child.

1000 Palestinian prisoners are ill and do not receive proper health care. In addition, some Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and Israeli authorites refuse to return their bodies to their families.

Hundreds of Palestinians are held in administrative detention without charge or trial. Their detention can be arbitrarily extended, 6 months at a time. 75 Palestinians have been imprisoned for over 25 years and six for over 30 years.

The participants expressed their rejection of their government’s adoption of Israeli methods. In France, a Lebanese struggler, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, who struggled for Palestine, has been imprisoned for 33 years despite being eligible for release since 1999.

They demanded: an end to the Belgian cooperation with Israeli institutions implicated in violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. The immediate end of the participation of the Belgian prosecutor’s office and judicial police and KU Leuven with Israeli police. The end to financing of such projects by the European Union.

Harassment by police in Charleroi

The action went well. At the moment the participants dispersed, they were stopped by the police for an identity check.

We explained that this was a symbolic action that had ended. We left again in small groups, and headed to a bistro to drink and eat together when we were stopped again for a second time.

Five minutes later, three young people who were on their way called us on the telephone to tell us they had been stopped by the police. We joined them. 15 police officers and a dog encircled them.

One of the police said: “A group that is moving and carrying a political message, it is normal that there is a control.”

The “political message” was nothing other than the keffiyehs that the three young people were wearing while walking on the Place du Manege. We recalled the previous Police Order concerning us, in which they claimed that wearing a keffiyeh is an appeal for violence or hate.

This harassment is outrageous and yet another attack on the right to expression for Palestine in Charleroi. We will not allow this to happen.

Stop the harassment by Charleroi police!

Photos by Raymond, Shady and Coralie.