Wednesday, August 27, 2014

International campaign for Palestinian MP's freedom

KHALIDA JARRAR campaigns for rights by democratic means - so banned by occupiers.

WHILE keeping fingers crossed that the cease fire over Gaza lasts, enabling people there to rebuild and bringing an end to the siege, we must not lose sight of the wider ongoing struggle for Palestinian rights and freedom, without which there cannot be true peace with justice for either Israelis or Palestinians.

It was on the occupied Palestinian West Bank that Israeli forces used the disappearence of three teenagers as pretext to launch a pre-planned campaign of arrests and raids on homes, before they turned on Gaza, and the repression there continues. Now an international campaign has been launched focussing on the case of one particular Palestinian political leader, Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who has been served with an expulsion order: 

"On August 20 at 1:30 AM, Ms. Jarrar’s Ramallah home was raided by 50 Israeli occupation soldiers who presented her with a “special supervision order,” written in Hebrew and read aloud in Arabic. This military order, signed off by an Israeli military court on the basis of unspecified and secret evidence, orders Jarrar expelled from her Ramallah home and forcibly transferred and confined within the city limits of Jericho for an initial period of six months; it was deemed effective within 24 hours.

"This order is a blatant injustice and is part and parcel of the ongoing Israeli occupation attempt to silence the voices of Palestinian political leaders and to confine and expel Palestinians. From the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland in 1948 – including members of Khalida Jarrar’s family – and the denial of their right to return for over 66 years; to the attempted deportation of Palestinian mayors outside Palestine; to the stripping of the Jerusalem ID’s of elected PLC members Mohammad Abu Tir, Ahmad Atoun, Mohammed Totah and Khaled Abu Arafah; to this expulsion order, there is a long line of Israeli attempts to threaten Palestinian life through displacement and expulsion.

"Khalida Jarrar has refused to sign the expulsion order, saying 'you, the occupation, are killing our Palestinian people. You practice mass arests, demolish homes, kidnap people from their homes and deport them. It is you who must leave our home.'

"She has moved to stay in a “protest tent” outside the legislative council building in Ramallah. She announced that she is going to stay and continue her work from there until the decision is revoked."

Khalida Jarrar is a political  leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has evolved as a campaigning left-wing party from its past as a guerrilla factions in the Palestinian national movements. Besides being an elected MP she frequently takes part in popular demonstrations, and is a former executive director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and member of its board. She chairs the Prisoners’ Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Khalida Jarrar has been active recently in public protests on the West Bank against the Israeli onslaught on her people in Gaza, protests which have been forcibly repressed by the Israeli occupation forces.  

Unlike Hamas, the secular PFLP has always been noted for supporting women's rights and place in the struggle, and Khalida's supporters say she has been active in the Palestinian women’s movement since her student days.  "A feminist and prominent voice for the defense and expansion of women’s rights, she is a leading organizer of International Women’s Day events in Palestine".

 “Palestinian women are full partners in the Palestinian struggle,” she emphasizes.

Since 1998, she has been forbidden to travel outside occupied Palestine. When she needed medical treatment in Jordan in 2010, she struggled for months in a public campaign before finally receiving her treatment.

Pending the restoration of  Palestinian rights to East Jerusalem, Ramallah serves as the seat of Palestinian institutions including the Legislative Assembly. Telling an elected member they cannot reside there is like banning a British MP from Westminster.

Along with the detention of many MPs and restrictions on travel it is one more way in which "the only democracy in the Middle East", as Israel likes to boast itself, makes sure Palestinian democracy cannot function, and makes a mockery of its supposed agreement towards "two states". 

On the legal aspect, campaigners say : "The forced transfer of Khalida Jarrar violates international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits so-called 'assigned residence' unless it is “absolutely necessary” and forbids forced collective or individual transfer of protected persons from one area of occupied territory to another. The military order for Jarrar’s forced expulsion contains only vaguely worded references to 'intelligence information' and 'protecting the security of the region.'"

They also note: "The invasion of Jarrar’s home and the delivery of the expulsion “special supervision order” took place within so-called “Area A,” allegedly under the complete security control of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Agreements. Despite this, Israeli occupying forces were allowed to enter Ramallah and invade Jarrar’s home; as Addameer notes, “the so-called ‘security co-ordination’ between Palestinian Authority security forces and Israeli occupying forces allowed for the expulsion of an elected representative of the Palestinian people, an elected representative who has continuously called for an end to such ‘coordination.’”

Launched by the North American-based Samidoun network for Palestinian political prisoners, the campaign in solidarity with Khalida Jarrar claims support from over 1,000 organisations worldwide, and is winning a wide range of supporters.

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