France calls jailed Palestinian activist ‘human rights defender’

Posted: December 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, unarmed protest | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

In a letter to the French-Palestine Solidarity Association, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé slams Israel for arresting and trying Bassem Tamimi in military court. Mr. Juppé states that “an official demarche has recently been delivered on his behalf to the Israeli authorities by the chief representative of the European Union delegation in Tel Aviv”

Bassem Tamimi at Ofer military court, West Bank (image: activestills.org)

Palestinian protest organizer Bassem Tamimi was arrested by the Israeli army last March, and has been in prison ever since. Tamimi, a father of four from Nabi Saleh, has been the target of the Israeli security forces since the beginning of the unarmed protest in his village a couple of years ago. The Palestinians in Nabi Saleh are demanding the return of the lands that were taken from them by the army and settlers of nearby Halamish. The regular protests erupted after the settlers took over a pond used by the village’s people. you can read more about the protest in Nabi Saleh here.

Last week, Alain Juppé, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, sent a letter to the French-Palestine Solidarity Association, in which he expressed his deep concern over the indictment and incarceration of Bassem Tamimi.

“Tamimi’s situation is just as much of a concern to me as it is to you,” Mr. Juppé wrote, “The European Union has taken this case and considers Mr. Tamimi a human rights defender and a non-violent demonstrator.”

Tamimi doesn’t stand a real chance in court: The conviction rate for Palestinians in Israeli military courts is a stunning 99.74 percent, and previous unarmed protest organizers – like those from the villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin – have been sentenced to long prison terms, despite international protest.

Here is Mr. Juppé’s letter (translation from a press release by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee; French original can be read here).

MINISTRY
OF FOREIGN  AND
EUROPEAN AFFAIRS
REPUBLIC OF FRANCE

Paris, November 25th, 2011 – 010286CM

The Minister of State

Mister President [of AFPS],

You have brought to my attention the case of Mr. Bassem Tamimi, coordinator of the popular committee of Nabi Saleh, for which I thank you.

Mr. Tamimi who was arrested on March 24th has been charged of five offenses. Three of these charges are based on a military edict which amounts to a denial of the right to demonstrate of all Palestinians under military occupation, a right which is nevertheless universally recognized.

Tamimi’s situation is just as much of a concern to me as it is to you.  The European Union has taken this case and considers Mr. Tamimi a human rights defender and a non-violent demonstrator. An official demarche has recently been delivered on his behalf to the Israeli authorities by the chief representative of the European Union delegation in Tel Aviv.  The aforementioned intervention also denoted  the European support for the right to demonstrate non-violently in the Palestinian territories.

Regarding the issue of colonization, that Mr. Tamimi denounces, I remind you the firm position that France has taken in condemning this type enterprise, which we have recently qualified as “provocation”. Colonization is contrary to international law and is an impediment to peace.

I thank you, Mr. President, and you have my deepest consideration.

Alain JUPPÉ

It is worth reading Bassem Tamimi’s statement before the military court (here).

More on this issue:
Palestinian protest organizer stands no chance in army court
Conviction rate for Palestinians in Israel’s military courts: 99.74%
UN special rapporteur on torture to address Nabi Saleh trial
Nabi Saleh: A tiny village’s struggle againt the occupation