During the People’s Faire this year many people wrote letters at the Amnesty International table in support of the Palestinian writer Ahmad Qatamesh. He was arrested by Israel almost 17 months ago and still has not been charged with a crime. No one has accused him of acts of violence, and many believe he was arrested for daring to write in support of a policy that would create one country where both Jews and Arabs would live together with equal rights. For some Israeli Jews this is a dangerous idea and must be suppressed.
Israeli law permits administrative detention, which allows a person to be jailed without charge as long as a military court renews the sentence every six months. In the 1990’s Ahmad Qatamesh was in jail without charge for over five years under this policy. As of July 31, 250 Palestinians were held by Israel in administrative detention. Under international law, administrative detention can be used under only the most extreme circumstances.
Israel has the right to protect its citizens. If someone commits an act of terrorism, he or she should be punished. No one, however, should be punished for offering a way to resolve the violence in the region. Please write to the Israeli ambassador, calling for both an end to the use of administrative detention and for the release of Mr. Qatamesh.
Address letters to: Ambassador Michael Oren/ Israel Embassy/ 3514 International Dr. N.W./ Washington, D.C. 20008.
On behalf of 25 members of Amnesty International Group 463