Sunday, December 06, 2009

Free Mohammad Othman...

Human Rights Watch statement (snipped):

(Jerusalem) - The Israeli military appeals court should end the administrative detention of Mohammed Othman, a West Bank rights activist, and order his release, Human Rights Watch said today.

Israeli authorities have detained Othman without charge for more than two months on what appear to be politically motivated grounds. On the basis of secret evidence that Othman and his lawyers were not allowed to see, a military court confirmed a military order that consigned Othman to three months administrative detention without charging him with any crime. Othman has no criminal record and, to the knowledge of Human Rights Watch, has never advocated or participated in violence. His detention period, which may be renewed, ends on December 22.

"The only reasonable conclusion is that Othman is being punished for his peaceful advocacy," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities interrogated him for months, then ordered him held some more, but they won't say why they are holding him and haven't accused him of any crime."

Israeli authorities detained Othman, an activist with the "Stop the Wall" campaign, a nonviolent protest movement, on September 22, 2009, as he returned to the West Bank from a trip to Norway, where he spoke about the separation barrier that Israel has constructed in the occupied territory. The barrier was ostensibly built to protect against suicide bombers, but it is not being built along the 1967 border. Instead, 87 percent of the barrier's route lies inside the West Bank, unlawfully separating residents from their lands, restricting their movement, and effectively annexing occupied lands to unlawful Israeli settlements.

On November 23, after Othman had been detained for 61 days "for the purpose of interrogation," Colonel Ron Weisel, an Israeli military commander of the West Bank, ordered him held for three months of administrative detention on the grounds that he was a threat to the "security of the area." The military court of administrative detainees, located in the Israeli military base of Ofer, near Ramallah in the West Bank, upheld the order on November 25 and counted the time that Othman had already been detained toward his detention.

Hat tip Mondoweiss.


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