Interview with Sahar Francis, chair of Addameer, one of the Palestinian organizations recently raided by the Israeli army

There are over 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners. The conditions of their detention are outrageous. They are abused, tortured and have no proper health care. This leads many of them to develop serious illnesses and in some cases to their death.

This is one of the many denunciations about Palestinian political prisoners by Addameer, one of the three organisations that was raided by the Israeli army on Tuesday, 11 December. The Israeli forces also stormed into the headquarters of the Union of Palestinian Women Committees and the Palestinian NGO Network. The reason for this is attributed to the participation of these organisations in the recent World Social Forum Free Palestine.

During the forum, Real World Radio interviewed Sahar Francis, chair of Adamir. Francis exposes several kinds of punishments against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons: solitary confinement for long periods, fines from 50 to 100 US dollars, forbidding family visits. In the case of the Gaza Strip, all the Palestinian prisoners have been forbidden access to their families for six years.

Francis, who is a human rights lawyer, said that of these thousands of prisoners only a minority is involved in military activities or in the armed fight. Most of them were captured for political and humanitarian activism. Israel claims that the organisations are linked to groups like Hamas, the Islamic Jihad or Fatah, so they considered them as terrorist organisations. But most of the Palestinian prisoners are people who were fighting against the Israeli wall, against the construction of settlements or who were political activists in their communities. Francis exposes that student unions are considered illegal by Israel, that is why several Palestinian students are imprisoned for one to two years.

The Palestinian political prisoners are tried in Israeli military courts or in civilian courts. According to Francis neither of these systems offer the guarantees of fair trials because they follow military orders “under very discriminatory laws against Palestinians and with very harsh sentences”.

Finally, Sahar Francis expressed her satisfaction with the WSF Free Palestine after learning that many social movements from Latin America, Europe and Africa participated. She said it is a good chance to create strategies around the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), which is considered as a very strong tool of peaceful resistance that can be done together with the Palestinian people and should not be restricted to the Arab countries.

She also considered the forum as an important opportunity to encourage social movements to lead other actions in their own countries, such as bringing the Israeli war criminals to court or exposing the corporations that are linked to the industry of the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories.

Photo: Coletivo Catarse

This podcast was produced and first published by Real World Radio.