Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Double Jeopardy entraps Palestinians"

by Sonja Karkar

"......No one speaks much about the Palestinian prisoners in Israel where they are taken in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting their transfer. Yet, almost every family has experienced the violence of having one of their own taken away. Children are forced to watch their fathers and brothers being herded out of home at gunpoint in the early hours of the morning, blindfolded, handcuffed and secreted away. Pregnant women and mothers have been taken and children as young as 12 are sent to adult prisons. Babies have been born in prison and are then separated from their mothers who sometimes do not see their children again until years later. Sometimes those taken prisoner disappear altogether. The sheer number of Palestinians in prison (currently some 11,000) has made it an unavoidable issue in negotiations and has led to prisoner swaps with Israel. However, nothing much changes because Israel either re-arrests those released or just arrests other Palestinians. This is why the Palestinian National Council decided to declare 17 April as Prisoners’ Day encouraging family and friends to gather throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories and also around the world with photos of their loved ones in the hope of attracting publicity for those in prison and obtaining their release......

There is no excuse for not speaking up, no excuse for accepting Israel’s fantasy of a “beacon unto the nations”. As long as Palestinians are prisoners in the Orwellian world being created around them, as long as their freedom and human rights are denied, as long as their existence is in jeopardy, all the sympathy we murmur to other victims becomes meaningless, just as the noble principles underlying international law and conventions are meaningless. In this dark world of silence, we all become prisoners. "

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