Free Sireen Khudiri, Palestinian political prisoner

Issue 

Sireen Khudiri is a 24-year-old Palestinian teacher, human rights activist and political prisoner. She studied computer science at the Open University in Tubas, on the West Bank.

Khudiri is an advocate of the rights of children in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank to have a decent education and has been active in non-violent campaigns against the abuses imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities.

Khudiri also writes to publicise the struggle of the Palestinian people for their rights.

A resident of Tubas, Khudiri was arrested and taken away by Israeli forces after being stopped in her car at a temporary checkpoint on the night of May 14.

The next day, her family home was raided in the early hours of the morning by the Israeli Army. Her father, mother, three brothers, sisters in law and their two young children were rounded up and confined to a room. About 100 Israeli soldiers cordoned off the nearby streets, twenty soldiers searched and ransacked the house and took all the family's computers away.

This incursion took place in an area that, according to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is supposed to be under PA control. Despite this, raids into the PA areas by Israeli occupation forces are a common occurrence and a blatant breach of these accords.

After her detention, Khudiri was transferred out of the occupied Palestinian Territories to a prison in Haifa in northern Israel. This practice is illegal under international law, but like so many international laws and agreements, this is ignored by Israel.

Article 49 of the Geneva Convention states that, “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power or that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”.

Article 76 also states, “persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country and serve their sentences therein”.

Since her detention, Khudiri has been denied access to a lawyer and not allowed to make contact with her family. Khudiri has appeared in court four times since her arrest, with her hands and legs shackled. Each time her detention in prison has been extended.

This Israeli procedure of administrative detention is a measure routinely employed by Israel. It means Palestinians can be held indefinitely without being charged or standing trial.

Administrative detention is mainly used against non-violent political activists. Israel holds about 180 Palestinian political prisoners in administrative detention. The Israeli practice of administrative detention contravenes Article 9 of the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights.

An Amnesty International report last year said: “Administrative detention is used regularly by the Israeli authorities as a form of political detention, enabling the authorities to arbitrarily detain political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, and that the practice is used to punish them for their views and suspected political affiliations when they have not committed any crime.”

Khudiri is accused by Israel of creating a Facebook page that would harm the “security” of Israel. In reality, she is in prison due to her internet activism.

Khudiri’s crime was not an act that threatens Israel’s security, in any military sense. Rather, by disclosing the daily oppressive conditions Palestinians live under, she helps to reveal to the outside world the brutal facts of the Israeli occupation.

The Western mainstream media tends to ignore the true situation for Palestinians under Israeli occupation, but the Internet is harder to censor. This is why cartoonists, artists, writers and internet activists like Khudiri are now being targeted for harassment, arrest and imprisonment.

Khudiri is in jail simply for administering a Facebook page and her internet reporting. Khudiri is being held illegally by Israeli authorities.

All those concerned about justice and human rights should Khudiri in anyway they can. Call for Israel to immediately release Sireen Khudiri. Sign a petition here.