Palestinian writer, thinker and previous long-term administrative detainee Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh was ordered on Wednesday, 17 May to three months in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, only three days after he was seized from his family home in el-Bireh by Israeli occupation forces.
Qatamesh, 63, was last released from administrative detention nearly 4 years ago; at the time, he had been imprisoned without charge or trial for two and one-half years. Between 1992 and 1998, he was the longest-held Palestinian prisoner in administrative detention; his detention was renewed every six months for nearly six years. Since his release, he has been banned from leaving Palestine and traveling by Israeli occupation military orders.
He has been arrested repeatedly by Israeli occupation forces over the years, including in 1969 and again in 1972, when he was jailed for 4 years. He lived “underground” evading capture by occupation forces for 17 years.
His memoir, I Shall Not Wear Your Tarboush, recalls his time in prison as well as the 100 days of torture he underwent during interrogation in 1992. Since his release in 1998, he has become a prominent Palestinian intellectual, writer and teacher; he is the founder of the Munif Barghouthi Research Center.
Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh is now one of over 500 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable and can be issued for up to six months at a time; like Qatamesh has been on multiple occasions, Palestinians can be imprisoned indefinitely for years on end under these orders. The use of administrative detention in Palestine dates from the era of British colonization in Palestine and has been maintained and extended intensively by Israeli occupation. The call to end administrative detention is one of the key demands of the approximately 1500 Palestinian political prisoners engaged in an open hunger strike since 17 April 2017.
As Qatamesh was ordered to administrative detention, United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk drew attention to Israeli violations of Palestinian rights through the use of systematic imprisonment without charge or trial. “I am particularly concerned with Israel’s use of administrative detention, which involves imprisonment without charge, trial, conviction or meaningful due process, as well as the possibility of unrestricted renewal of their detention…Israel’s use of administrative detention is not in compliance with the extremely limited circumstances in which it is allowed under international humanitarian law, and deprives detainees of basic legal safeguards guaranteed by international human rights law,” Mr. Lynk said.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the administrative detention of Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh and demands his immediate release. The targeting of this Palestinian writer and historic, prominent figure of the Palestinian liberation movement who exposed before the world the experience of torture under interrogation in Israeli prison is part and parcel of the ongoing Israeli assault on Palestinian culture and resistance that predates the Nakba. Palestinian writers from Mahmoud Darwish to Samih al-Qasem to today’s young poets like Dareen Tatour have been targeted alongside countless Palestinian intellectuals and academics for imprisonment, especially when their writing and work enters the sphere of the politics of Palestinian national and social liberation. We urge international support and solidarity to free Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh, put an end to the policy of administrative detention and free all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.