Canadian ISM activist arrested and beaten by Israeli police
A London Ontario activist named Tarek Loubani was arrested by the Israeli police while working with International Solidarity Movement (ISM) peace activists some time ago.
Though the arrest was outrageous enough (they were merely observers to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in the occupied territories of Palestine), the treatment they have received in prison is nothing short of shocking.
Below are 8 updates on the issue, including a note that Tarek slipped to attorneys during preliminary trials. In this note Tarek describes how he was beaten after his hunger strike, isolated from his lawyers after his arrest, and given very limited contact with the outside world.
We urge you to contact your MP and Bill Graham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs to express your outrage at this situation. This is especially relevant to the government given the recent beating death of Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian photo journalist, in Iran.
You can find MP's addresses at http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/senmemb/house/members/MemberList.asp?Language=E&Parl=37&Ses=1&Sect=hoccur or at this friendlier to use address on the DAWN Ontario site http://dawn.thot.net/Action.html
Please forward this information widely.
For more info see: www.palsolidarity.org
9. Ariel Three Still Being Held Illegally - Update July 22, 2003
The hearing for the eight imprisoned international peace activists has been set for tomorrow thursday july 17th at 11:30 AM at the Tel Aviv district court, 1 Weizman St., corner of Shaul Hamelech.
The eight activists began refusing food last night in protest over the abuse of Palestinian prisoners and in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners hungerstriking across Israel. They were also demanding their immediate and unconditional release as they were arrested while non-violently protesting illegal occupation policies and violation of Palestinian human rights. This morning the Israeli police at the Ariel settlement police station punished the activists for their hungerprotest by taking away their books, pens, papers, cigarettes and phone cards that had been brought to them by israeli supporters.
Four of the Activistis
Tobias Karlsson (SWEDEN), Tarek Loubani (CANADA), Fredrick Lind (DENMARK)
and Bill Capowski (USA) were arrested on july 9, for sitting in a peace
tent in Arrabony village near Jenin in protest over the confiscation of
palestinian land for the building of the Apartheid wall by Israel. The
other four, Daniel Knutsson (SWEDEN), Alex Perry (UK), Saul Reid (UK)
and Thomas Pellas (FRANCE) were arrested on july 10 in the city of Nablus,
for parttaking in a non-violent action removing roadblocks in defence
of the Palestinian's human right of freedom of movement. Since their arrest
their hearing has been postponed twice and they have been denied bail.
For more information,
17 Jul 03 Tarek Loubani
(The following was scribbled on a piece of paper by Tarek and passed to Huwaida via a lawyer during court proceedings for the deportation of 8 international peace activists on July 17. The hunger protest referred to was begun on the evening on July 15.)
I had forgotten what love was. My world was one of anger, rage and hate. As the 5 or 6 police officers each took a turn hitting me, all I cold think of was hate. There could be nothing else. All of this started when Captain Ya'kov(Yoki) Golan came into our room and asked if we were on hunger strike. "We're not eating" we replied. A few police thugs swarmed the room and started to take anything. Capt. Ya'kov started to talk about how we were nothing, to which I replied, "shut the hell up and don't you dare talk to us like that. You can't break me. You can't break any of us."
"I'm not just going to break you; I'm going to destroy you." We all laughed.
We were strip searched 3 times in the next hour and then they came for me.
"Where are you taking him?" The other seven protested on my behalf. They cared more about me than I did. I came to terms with the fact that I was going into solitary, and finally approached the police. "I'm ready." I declared melodramatically. That's when the first hand came. They grabbed my shirt and pulled me to the ground in front of the cell. I did nothing. Even if I wanted to, I had lost track of all my appendages. All I knew was that they were all limp. The hitting started, and I filled the halls with screams of pain.
As I was up against the wall, with one man stomping on my leg, another bending my arm and another two or three pulling and hitting elsewhere, I caught a glimpse of the faces and entered that other world.
I can't do anything now. The guards who were involved all smile when they pass our cell. And all of this over the only act of resistance we can do: going hungry. One thing hasn't changed though: none of us will be broken.
I am contacting you regarding the arrest of Canadian citizen, Tarek Loubani, in Arrabony within the Jenin Region, I believe. I am in contact with his family and understand that the international peace activists, of whom Tarek was one, were in that Palestinian village at the request of the local villagers. They were engaged in and supporting nonviolent expression of protest over the illegal confiscation of Palestinian land. During their stay they were repeatedly harassed and threatened with physical violence and arrest by Israeli soldiers, armed guards and settlers. Nevertheless the peace activists remained nonviolent at all times.
This message is to inform you that citizens in Tarek's home city in London Ontario are outraged at such politically motivated arrests and that we are preparing to organise information/media campaign and government lobby efforts to condemn the Israeli government's handling of international observers in the region. As well we will be manding that our government do more to prevent the horrific situation that Palestinians and international peace activists are subjected to at the hands of the Israeli government.
We demand that:
Furthermore we demand to know why the Ministry of Interior and the government of Israel are preventing all access to Palestinian areas and acting to arrest and deport human rights defenders and peace workers who would witness and report on Israeli violations of human rights and international law.
Our outrage is being transformed into political awareness and action, specifically with regards to the inhumane treatment of all people in the region. As a result we demand that apartheid-style measures of confinement and land confiscation be stopped immediately. And we expect that our government, through our ambassadors work harder to condemn these acts publicly and to the Israeli government.
My grandparents, Jews originally from Poland, lived half of their lives being terrorised by Nazi forces in Europe, and lost much of their families during that time. I feel that it is a grave injustice to all of those innocent Jews and their supporters that Israel, the country that should be championing human rights everywhere, is currently one of greatest human rights abusers in the world. Canadians will not stand by and allow the cycle of violence to continue, neither should our government.
Hon. Bill Graham
Tarek Loubani, is a Canadian Citizen and a resident of London, Ontario. He is also a peace activist is also a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Canada, who decided to dedicate his summer time to be a peace activist in the region. He and three other activists were arrested in Arrabony, a Palestinian Village near Jenin on July 9th, 2003 by Israeli soldiers as they protested over the confiscation of Palestinian Land for the Building of the Apartheid wall by Israel. ISM is a nonviolent peace activist organization who has worked to oppose Israel's illegal house demolitions and other human rights violations of the Palestinians living under occupation.
I strongly urge that the Canadian government strongly protest this action and obtain the immediate release of Tarek Loubani and that non-violent protest and international observers must not be interfered with as they are virtually the only restraint on Israel's actions in the Occupied Territories.
cc. Hon. Gar Knutson,
Qalqilia 17 Jul 03 Joe P and John P
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Jayyous report, July 16 and 17 July 16 At 4:00 pm we were informed by local residents that a family which lives on the other side of the separation fence was unable to travel home due to the construction of barbed-wire fencing stretching across the road. The separation fence at this location is still incomplete and the family had walked across it in the morning to purchase food and go to a doctor.
Because the fence cuts just in front of the family' home and the only other way that they would have access to the house would require an hour walk over very difficult terrain, the Israeli government promised to make a special gate for the family. Unfortuantely the family discovered no such gate has been installed. Ben, Michael R., and John P. went to investigate the matter. As we approached the new barbed wire fence we noticed that some children (under 10 years old) were pulling up stakes to the fence.
The construction workers later noticed this and called in their special security guards to deal with the situation. As we were leaving the area, along with most of the children engaged in that activity, we began to hear gun shots from the direction of the fence toward the village. We began heading back to the area to find a number of small children running away toward us.
One of the children of the family, a young man of about 16 years old, stopped us in our tracks and told us not to continue. He said that he did not want us to be at risk and that because of this new incident it is he \"who wants to die\". Gun shots rang out for a few minutes longer then later faded. No injuries were reported The military evidently showed up some time later and told local residents that a palestinian from the village had fired upon the security guards. We strongly disagree with that statement as we were only a block away from the incident and heard no shooting from our direction.
However, the military did use the excuse to shoot over one family's house on the northeast permiter of the wall around 7:30 pm.. The house sits immediately along the wall and the soldiers attempt to keep the family away from it. Meanwhile Joe P., Renae, and Michael D. were escorting a farmer to his land on the other side of the fence.
He had not visited or worked on this land since October out of fear of beatings and detention from the private civilian security company which have become common. Upon arriving on the land and viewing the scarred landscape that the security wall created the man wept. July 17: At 6:15 am, Joe P. and John P., along with a palestinian friend, met at the gate for our morning watch.
We observe the gate for a few hours every morning to monitor that people are able to cross to their farmlands without harrassment, detainment, or beatings. We noticed that the contstruction company was beginning to do work immediately in front of the gate causing concern amongst us that travel would be restricted. We approached one of the workers and he informed us that the work would only take 30 to 60 minutes and that travel would then be able to resume as \"normal\".
We became increasingly concerned upon seeing that a mound of dirt and rock growing in front of the road and that a very deep ditch was also being made on the other side. Several farmers with donkeys were \"allowed\" through the gate after much difficult navigation.
At one point an Israeli vehicle (workers with the Around 10:00 am, to our surprise, WGBH of boston showed up on the scene. They were evidently driving through the area doing a story about the security fence and happened to come down the road where we were. They jumped out of their car and went to the fence and began questioning the security guards about why the gate was closed. The security guards were thier usual obnoxious seleves and began yelling at them to leave the area.
The reporters interviewed a number of the farmers waiting to cross with their tractors, as well as joe and john. Shortly afterwards we notified Sharif, the local coordinator of the Land Defence Commitee in the Qalqilya district about the closure of the gate. He contacted captain Ramy Qaroat, the local military commander of the Israeli military and he agreed to meet him at the gate to see what was going on.
Apparently the military did not give the construction company orders to close the gate.Ramy told Sharif that the gate would be open by morning. Ramy further promised to \"look into the matter\" of a gate not being installed for the family on the other side of the wall.
Jenin 17 Jul 03 Jordan Flaherty
Yesterday, International volunteers from seven countries returned to the village of Arrabony to set up a protest Camp near the site of last week's arrest of four international activists from ISM-Jenin. From this location, they will continue to support local protest against the devastation caused by the Apartheid Wall.
Since arriving, activists have continued to document the effects of Wall construction in the area. They have also started an informal summer camp for area youth. Tomorrow, they will join with residents of the Berqin Valley to remove a roadblock from their main road. More roadblock removals and other actions will soon follow.
Yesterday a group from the protest Camp visited the village of Taibeh, where at least 650 Dunums of land (1Dunum = 1,000 sq. meters) has been confiscated by the Israeli military, and six houses have been destroyed. Three of the homeowners received one weeks notice that their homes would be destroyed, while three received no notice, as the destruction was an \"accidental\" result of explosions related to Wall construction. None of the homeowners internationals met with reported being offered any compensation for the loss of their homes or land. A village cemetary was also forced to relocate as a result of Wall construction.
North of Arrabony, Wall construction has continued through the night. Activists at the protest Camp also found that several homes in Arrabony have been shaken as a result of explosions related to Wall constuction, and will be staying in the area of these homes to attempt to protect them from destruction.
also visited the Jenin refugee camp today, where last night at least 12
jeeps and one Armored Personel Carrier entered the camp at 3 am to arrest
a 27 year-old teacher. It has also been reported that 10 tanks entered
into the village of Al-Yamoon last night, and that early this morning
soldiers fired at people crossing
Gaza 16 Jul 03 Liz Walters
We have joined the wonderful peace and justice work going on here in Rafah, located in the southern most part of Gaza.
The long term coordinators, Mohammed and Laura, have been through a great deal in recent months. They have witnessed the suffering and death of many Palestinians living in Rafah. They have experienced the murder of Rachel C, the journalist James T, and the shooting of Tom H. For them and for us the murder of the internationals must be understood in the context of the daily assault on Palestinians.
Here in Rafah the Iraeli military is omnipresent along the Eygptian border. They have carved out a space for themselves of more than 100 meters of land measured from the new wall which separates Eygpt and Rafah. The space the Israelis have \"claimed\" stretches for miles along the Rafah side of the border.
Never mind that hundreds of family homes, gardens and orchards are on this space! The Israelis say anyone on the space of land they want, must depart.
Every home and tree and plant in the path of this targeted area has been or is scheduled to be demolished. Also, before the June 30, 2003 cease fire, snipers in the watch towers along the border shot civilians. On the street where the demolition is taking place now, 39 Palestinian men women and children have been murdered by snipers. Nearby Tom and James were shot.
The Rafah Governorate notes that since September 28, 2000 the Rafah community has expereienced the worst campaings of Israeli hatred and violence and discrimination. Here are some of the awful statistics:
Murders and maimings in Rafah by the Israeli military and staff: 238 martyrs, 46 of them children 2350 injured 110 disabled
Homes lost: 917 homes demolished -- as a result 1154 families including 6610 people became homeless 380 homes partially destroyed 2576 homes along the border suffering from daily Israeli indescriminate shootings and shellings
Destruction of 154 stores Destruction of two mosques Destruction of two best water wells in Rafah
During our stay here we are priviledged to be able to stay with families living in homes which are next on the Israeli demolition list. Today one family member said to me, \"Everything looks bleak. We are in grave trouble. The Israeli occupation will not end soon. But we will not give up our struggle for freedom and for a Free Palestine.\"
Your sister, Liz Walters
Original article is at http://thunderbay.indymedia.org/news/2003/07/7402.php
ISM Volunteer and Lakehead University student Tarek Loubani has been arrested in Palestine.
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Canada - Press Release for immediate release
Ten International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Peace activists, among them two Canadians, still held in Israeli custody after being detained in the West Bank.
In two separate incidents, the Israeli Army has detained four International Solidarity Movement (ISM)activists based in Jenin, and six other ISM activists based out of Nablus.
The four Peace activists based in Jenin were arrested July 8, 2003 in the town of Arrabony in the West Bank at the site of a Peace camp that they had established there at the request of local villagers. Among the activists was Tarek Loubani, a Canadian national from Bathurst, New Brunswick.
Loubani is currently being held in the Ariel Police station in the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank along with Tobias Karlsson (Sweden), Bill Capowski (New York, USA), and Fredrick Lind (Denmark).
Loubani was visited by a Canadian embassy representative on the morning of July 11, 2003 who reported that the Canadian "was in high spirits and good health, suffering only from minor injuries. I think his arm was sprained when he was arrested, and he had a few bruises." The embassy official also reported that Loubani was interrogated for 2 hours following his arrest, but was being treated humanely by Israeli police.
Loubani, who is still being held in Ariel as of 8:00am ET, July 11 was allowed a brief phone call to his family, after almost two full days of detention in which he said, "we were treated very badly when we were arrested, the soldiers hit Tobias [Swedish ISM activist] and when we told them to stop they hit us too. They kept telling us we were common criminals." He went on to say, "[the Israeli Soldiers] then drove us around from place to place in this small unmarked car. We were arrested at 12:00pm [local time] on Tuesday [July 8, 2003] but only allowed to talk to our lawyer 6:00pm the following day. I wrote a detailed account of our treatment and gave it to Ms. Lehrman [the group's lawyer] maybe she can use it in our hearings."
With respect to Avi Zer-Aviv, an ISM activist from Toronto, who was arrested along with five other ISM activists outside Nablus on the afternoon of July 10, 2003, Loubani said, "I am with Avi [Zer-Aviv]. They brought him in yesterday. He is from Toronto. Does anyone know that he has been arrested? He is okay - get the word out that he is okay." All ten ISM activists are now being held at the Ariel Police Station.
The Arrabony Peace camp manned by the four ISM activists was established with the goal of reducing tension and violence in common flash-point areas. It was just one of four peace camps across the West Bank and Gaza manned by ISM activists.
Arrabony is one of many Palestinian towns that have been adversely affected by the construction of a controversial, fortified Israeli perimeter fence around the West Bank. The Israeli government refers to the structure as the "Security Fence," whereas Palestinians and ISM activists have come to refer to it simply as "The Wall." In the case of Arrobony, as in Qalqilya and several other West Bank cities and villages, the wall, built on Palestinian lands, risks separating farmers from their lands, and a Palestinian population center from the rest of the West Bank.
Israel maintains the wall, which is made of reinforced concrete slabs in some sections, is intended to enhance Israeli security by keeping out would be terrorists. Palestinian farmers and villagers, whose land has been confiscated for the construction of the fence, don't believe the wall will enhance Israeli security and view the construction on their lands as collective punishment in response to terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Why would Israel even
consider deporting peaceful internationals? They were sitting in a peace
camp in Arrabonah in solidarity with Palestinian farmers. Why was this
peaceful sit-down even necessary? Israel is busy building a 24-foot (8
They now languish in the Ariel police station in the illegal settlement of Ariel near occupied Nablus. They have not been charged with breaking any law, but they have been charged as being a security threat to Israel just because they are members of the ISM.
Their treatment as
internationals has been tough, but not nearly as terrible as it is for
the thousands of Palestinians. Close to a thousand Palestinians are held
in \"administrative detention\" and sit in detention camps with
no charges against them, according to the human rights organization, B'tselem.
For more information,
Page last updated July 24, 2003