Standing with Susiya – Globally, we are paying attention.

Jewish Voice for Peace sends out this call today: “The latest reports are that Susiya remains in imminent danger, with demolition rumored to begin Wednesday. Our best bet at this point is to create the biggest media story we can – the Israeli government is much less likely to act if they think people are paying attention. So please, take just 5 seconds to share this image:

And if you’re up for it, please also share this 6 minute video that tells the story of Susiya, made by journalist Jen Marlowe – click here.”

Here is some background info about the California-based group: “Jewish Voice for Peace is a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.” (For more info, click here.)

Access to learning – Access to understanding

“This idea of conversation – talking together, reaching mutual understanding, and making meaning together across hierarchies – that’s the work that needs to be done” (Samantha Tan, quoted in Brown, 2003, p. 201).

How will we enable the next generation to engage in meaningful conversation if we restrict opportunities to learn and grow? My question arises as I read a recent posting by two Ecumenical Accompaniers currently placed in East Jerusalem. Debbie (click here) is one of the two EAs and is from Edmonton. Here’s the posting that she wrote with a teammate, Nkosi (click here).

Reference
Brown, Juanita. (2003). The World Café: Shaping our futures through conversations that matter. With David Isaacs and the World Café Community. Foreword by Margaret J. Wheatley. Afterword by Peter Senge. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

 

“Are we brave enough for peace?”

Cris Williamson asks this question in her 2003 song titled, “We the People” (click here).

This week in Canada, we experienced violence that is prompting us as a society to ask if globally-related violence really is growing on this part of Turtle Island (North America; click here). Our government is proposing that we increase national and provincial security measures. In effect, our government and uncritical media are suggesting that we be fearful.

But, others, like the people of Cold Lake, Alberta (click here) and Cris Williamson offer alternative perspectives. Here are the lyrics to the chorus of Cris’ song:

We the people
Stand in the hard rain pourin’ down
We’ll not be prisoners of war
We will not cast the stone

We can and are choosing non-violent responses to violence. Yesterday, for example, in Cold Lake, Alberta, as local Muslims gathered for Friday prayers, they discovered violent words spray-painted on the side of the mosque. They and many other Cold-Lake residents responded with concern and began to wash off the violent words, together. They were brave and chose peace.

I believe that Canadian society is capable of being brave, too, and choosing peace. By responding to global violence with more violence, are we not contributing to the problem by destroying the places in which the next generation is trying to grow? If we contribute to destruction, how can any little person develop in healthy ways and relationships? It’s not too late to declare that war with its violence is unhelpful. In 2005, Jean Shinoda Bolen described that “when the problem is violence, solutions have to be found to keep noncombatants safe from physical harm and emotional trauma” (p. 95, see more here). She writes that women (and I would suggest men, too, who have been given the love and resources to develop healthy, sensitive selves) “…have the qualities that are needed for the human family, the planet and all life on it to survive and thrive” (p. 98). And, she notes that we need to make our healthy relationality visible.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to participate in the 2014 People for People conference in Edmonton (click here; coordinated by Kara Stokke, click here). Teresa de Grosbois (click here), one of the great keynote speakers, encouraged us to speak with the intention to be heard.

And, so I offer this posting with compassion for the larger whole… we don’t have to choose fear. In Canada and globally, we can choose to “Stand in the hard rain pourin’ down” (Cris’s song) and declare that increasing Canadian security measures could contribute to the building of walls that exclude and potentially humiliate and diminish others. We can choose connection and create spaces in which to listen to each other with care and curiosity, to understand.

I write with the intention to be heard. I believe that we are capable and can be brave enough for peace. Okay, here we go – on the count of 3, let’s stand up together… perhaps it’ll be raining, quite possibly snowing… [grin!]

URGENT ACTION APPEAL: Three Children Remain in Ofer Military Prison After Israeli Military Detains 27 Schoolchildren in Hebron

Please see this request for action as released by the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (www.eappi.org).

SUMMARY OF EVENTS:

On Wednesday, 20 March 2013 at 7:30AM, 22 Israeli Soldiers arrived at the Hebron Public Elementary School where they forced schoolchildren to walk to Checkpoint 29 and then into military vehicles. In total, the Israeli Military apprehended 27 minors, ages 7-15 during this incident.

Two of the children were released on the side of a road shortly after being detained. The remaining 25 children were taken to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, where they were photographed and had their fingerprints taken.

Teachers from the school went to the police station but were not allowed to enter.

At 2:00PM the soldiers released the 8 youngest children, and continued to detain the remaining 17, who are all between the ages of 13 and 15.

After interrogating them at the police station the soldiers transported the 17 children to the Jabarah   and Junaid military bases where they continued to question them.

Later that night soldiers released 14 of the remaining children. Three of the children, Muhamad Al-Razim, Muhamad Burqan and Muhamad Al-Fakhoury (ages 14-15) were transported to the Ofer Military Prison where they are still being detained.

The minors were questioned, photographed and had their fingerprints taken multiple times without consent and without the presence of parents, legal guardians, lawyers or teachers. Moreover, throughout the incident, the children were held along with other adult detainees, one of which is a long-time EAPPI local contact, Issa Amro, who confirmed that the children were both blindfolded and handcuffed for extended periods while being detained in the police station.

Click here to view a video of the incident described above as recorded by B’Tselem.

INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW:

This incident is a clear violation of international law; most notably it violates the following clauses:

  1. Children should be restrained only if they pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others, and all other means have been exhausted, or as a precaution against escape during transfer, but in all cases, only for as long as is strictly necessary. [Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) art. 37(c); CRC General Comment No. 10, para 89; UN standard Minimum Rules, rules 33 and 34; tokyo Rules, rule 64]
  2. All children should be free from compulsory self-incrimination, which includes the right to silence. ‘Compulsory’ should be interpreted broadly and not limited to physical force. The age of the child and the length of the interrogation, the child’s lack of understanding and the fear of unknown consequences may all lead a child to give a confession that is not true. [CRC, art 40(2)(b) (iv); Convention on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 10, paras 56-58; Convention against torture, art. 15; ICCPR, art 14(3)(g) and (4); Geneva IV, art. 31]
  3. There must be independent scrutiny of the methods of interrogation. This should include the presence of a lawyer and relative or legal guardian and audio- visual recording of all interrogations involving children. [CRC, art 40(2)(b)(ii) and (iv); Convention on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 10, para 58; ICCPR, art 14(3)(b); HRC General Comment No. 20, para 11; HRC Concluding Observations, Israel (29 July 2010), ICCPR/C/IsR/ CO/3, para 22; Convention against torture, art. 2; UN Committee against torture, General Comment No. 2, para 14, and Concluding Observations, Israel (14 May 2009), CAt/C/IsR/ CO/4, paras 15, 16, 27 and 28]

MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

We encourage you to:

  • Forward this email to your networks
  • Inform your elected representatives, and your country’s diplomatic representatives to Israel (http://tinyurl.com/cuue6l6) (from Canada – Ambassador Paul Hunt; taviv@international.gc.ca) about this incident, and call upon them to help release the remaining three minors.
  • Contact the following Israeli officials to condemn this violation of international law, and to call for the immediate release of the remaining three minors.

You may use the sample letter below or draft your own:

Dear Ambassador / Consul General / Prime Minister / Minister / Advocate General,

I am writing you to express my deep concern about an incident that took place in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday, 20 March 2013, in which the Israeli Military detained 27 Palestinian children (ages 7-15) during their commute to school.

The minors were handcuffed and blindfolded for hours, questioned, photographed and had their fingerprints taken multiple times without consent and without the presence of parents, legal guardians, lawyers or teachers. Moreover, the children were not informed as to why they were detained, their parents / guardians were not officially informed, and they were detained with other adult detainees.

These practices are unacceptable and clearly violate international law, specifically the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that:

Children should be restrained only if they pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others, and all other means have been exhausted, or as a precaution against escape during transfer, but in all cases, only for as long as is strictly necessary.

All children should be free from compulsory self-incrimination… The age of the child and the length of the interrogation, the child’s lack of understanding and the fear of unknown consequences may all lead a child to give a confession that is not true.

There must be independent scrutiny of the methods of interrogation. This should include the presence of a lawyer and relative or legal guardian and audio- visual recording of all interrogations involving children.


Though 24 of the children were later released, three of them, Muhamad Al-Razim, Muhamad Burqan and Muhamad Al-Fakhoury (ages 14-15) were transported to the Ofer Military Prison where they are still being detained. I ask that you do everything within your capacities to help release these three boys.

Sincerely,
YOUR NAME/ORGANIZATION