Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mohammad Othman: Still not charged, still in detention

Free Mohammad Othman!
say demonstrators at Israeli embassy in London

MOHAMMAD OTHMAN, a young Palestinian from Jayyous, on the West Bank, is not a bomber, nor a criminal. In fact, the Israeli authorities who arrested Mohammad as he crossed the Allenby bridge on his way home on September 22 seem to be having difficulty finding any law under which they can charge him with anything.

So in the meantime they are keeping him in jail.

Mohammad's only "crimes" appear to be that he joined a committee opposing the Israeli annexation wall striding across his village's land, that he acted as a spokesperson explaining his people's case to visitors, and that he went to Norway to speak at meetings calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions as a way to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation. During his visit he was also able to speak with the Norwegian Finance Minister, and there are signs that the campaign has had some success.

Now there are concerns for Mohammad's safety and welfare. Neither his family nor his lawyers have been allowed to see him. International supporters have demonstrated and sent letters to the Israeli authorities and embassies, and are starting to raise the issue with their own governments, particularly those which back Israel while supposedly trying to broker a Middle East peace.

Here is a message sent out to supporters by Sydney Levy, of Jewish Voice for Peace, in the United States:

'Fifty days have passed since his detention, but Mohammad Othman is still in prison. The Israeli government has given no reason for his arrest. And things are getting worse. We've learned that Mohammad is now incommunicado -- even from his own lawyers. Under these circumstances, there is reason to be seriously concerned about his well-being.
Thanks to you, we have generated about 10,000 emails of support, asking President Obama to demand that Israel release Mohammad. So far the President that could not deliver a settlement freeze has not delivered Mohammad's freedom either. Only Israel holds the key to his jail cell. But you and I hold the key to keeping his name in the public eye.
The more people talk about Mohammad Othman, the sooner his unjust detention will be over. That's why I am asking you to keep up the pressure. Pick up the phone and call US Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Mohammad was detained on September 22 by Israeli authorities when returning to the West Bank after a trip to Norway, where he advocated for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to abide by international law. Since his detention, he has endured long interrogations and solitary confinement.

Israeli authorities have transferred him to a different prison and forbidden him from seeing his lawyer. According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, there is reason to believe that Mohammad Othman's transfer to the Ohalei Keidar prison in Beersheba was intended to exert further pressure on him. They may be placing him in so-called "collaborators' cells," where detainees are often beaten, punched, threatened and exposed to psychological pressure if they refuse to talk to other prisoners who are detained in the same cells and who are typically collaborating with Israeli military authorities.

Mohammad should be set free right now.

Mohammad Othman went to jail for advocating for BDS. If you are in the US, you can do it without paying such a heavy price. Join the Campus BDS Conference at Hampshire College (Nov 20-22). There's more info here:


Sydney Levy

Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

PS: If you want to keep updated on his case, please go to:'

We also heard from Hindi Mesleh, via Facebook, that two appeal hearings were scheduled for Mohammad today. The first appeal to be heard at the High Court regards the ban on visits from his lawyers, the second appeal held at Ofar military court has been filed by Addameer attorneys against the extension of the interrogation period until November 18 . It is confirmed that Mohammad is NOT allowed to attend these hearings.

Hindi writes: "What is most important, is that you all reactive your support for Mohammad!!
The protection of human rights defenders is not only a moral obligation, but has been recognized by the United Nations as a social, individual and collective right and responsibility. Addameer and Stop the Wall thus urge foreign government officials, including members of foreign representative offices to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and foreign Consulates in East Jerusalem, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, human rights organizations and United Nations bodies to:

• Raise Mohammad Othman’s case in their official meetings with Israeli officials;
•Demand clarifications regarding the reason for Mohammad’s arrest and extended detention in official letters addressed to Israeli authorities;
•Demand Mohammad’s immediate release and pressure Israel to put an end to its policy of arbitrary detention".

See also:



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