Human Rights activist Ahmad Qatamesh, detained for 6 years in the 90s, is arrested again without charges

Israel/Palestine
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Omar Barghoti released this statement earlier today accompanying an article (which follows) regarding Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh, a prominent Palestinian writer, academic and human rights advocate.

“They told him they will issue an “administrative detention” order against him, clearly indicating that they have arrested him for his writings and political views. Human rights organizations have squarely condemned administrative detention as an affront to justice, as the detainee is not formally charged and is not given a chance to defend him/herself or even access to the charges list. Please distribute this to your human rights and activists networks, urging everyone to do their best to pressure Israel to release him and all other Palestinian prisoners of conscience.”

In the early hours of dawn on Thursday, 21 April 2011, a large force of Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers raided the home of the prominent Palestinian writer and academic Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh in Al-Bireh and arrested him. An hour earlier, Qatamesh’s wife, 22-year-old daughter and two other female relatives, including a 14-year-old child, were taken hostage by Israeli troops in another apartment in an effort to compel him to surrender himself. He was led to “Ofer” detention center in Beitunia.

Ahmad Qatamesh was born in 1950 in a cave in Bethlehem to a refugee family expelled during the Nakba from the village of Al-Malihah, near Jerusalem.

Qatamesh earned his diploma in Arabic literature from the UNRWA-run Teacher Training Center in Ramallah.

In 1992, he was arrested by a massive Israeli force in the presence of his then 3-year-old daughter. Accusing him of being a particularly “dangerous” national leader, the Israeli Shabak tortured and ill- treated him for a hundred days, an experience that he articulately exposed in his well-read prison notes titled I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush (fez). After the Shabak failed to produce incriminating evidence, however, an Israeli military court issued an “administrative detention” order against him, in accordance with an emergency law that allows Israel to detain for renewable terms anyone under its jurisdiction without charges, trial or access to the charges against him/her. This unjust procedure was repeatedly condemned as a violation of internationally accepted standards of justice by leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International*. Qatamesh’s detention was renewed continuously for almost six years, making him the longest serving administrative detainee ever. In April 1998, after a persistent public pressure campaign by Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights activists and organizations, Qatamesh was finally released.

Ahmad Qatamesh earned his master’s degree and later his PhD in political science from a Dutch university through distance learning, as he was under a travel ban by the Israeli occupation

LATimes ’98 describes Dr. Qatamesh’s previous 6 year imprisonment: “believed to have been imprisoned longer than any other Palestinian under what Israel calls “administrative detention.”

* Amnesty International (pdf)

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