International scholars and activists are campaigning for the release of their colleague and friend, Ubai Aboudi, who was arrested by Israeli forces on November 13th and has since been held under administrative detention.
Aboudi, a US citizen and director of the Ramallah-based Bisan Center for Research and Development, was detained from his home in the town of Kafr Aqab northeast of Jerusalem, where he lives with his wife Hind and their three young children.
Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Aboudi has lived most of his adult life in Ramallah, where he was educated as a political economist at Birzeit University.
His work at the Bisan center, according to family and friends, consists mostly of working with marginalized communities in rural areas of Palestine “to support their struggle in advancing their socio-economic rights.”
“Ubai’s family and friends are distraught and anxious for his immediate release,” a statement written by Aboudi’s family said, adding that “Ubai would like nothing more than to continue his work of bringing education and equal gender rights to his community” and to be home with his family to decorate their Christmas tree.
“It is a violation of international rights to imprison a person without any accusations or indictments,” the statement said, urging “fellow Americans and citizens of the world who believe in the rule of law and Ubai’s rights of due process as a US citizen and human being to demand for his immediate release.”
On November 18th, five days after he was arrested, Aboudi was put before an Israeli military court — which has a 99% conviction rate — and sentenced to 4 months in prison, subject to renewal.
Under Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention, Palestinians can be detained for months, or years at a time, for “security reasons,” without ever being charged with a crime or having their day in court.
Aboudi was set to attend the Scientists for Palestine conference in January at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which he had been instrumental in organizing through his position at Bisan.
His arrest has drawn the attention of activists and scholars from around the globe, including Noam Chomsky, Nobel laureate George Smith, and Amnesty International.
“It’s a crime that the Israeli military would pull a gentle soul like Ubai out of his home in front of his family in the middle of the night,” Chomsky said in a joint statement published by Scientists for Palestine. “They are clearly sending a signal to anyone who works with Palestinian civil society.”
Amnesty International released an urgent call for action, asking its followers to write an appeal to Israel’s chief of Central Command, Major-General Nadav Padan, demanding the release of Aboudi ahead of his next court hearing on November 28th.
“Amnesty International is gravely concerned that Israel’s systematic use of administrative detention against Palestinians violates international human rights law; its use as such result in arbitrary detention, and if prolonged or repeated can amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” the group said.
Mario Martone, theoretical physicist and spokesman for Scientists for Palestine, expressed the group’s fear that “this attack is directed towards those with strong relations with international organizations oriented towards implementing change in Palestine.”
A petition has been set up online for supporters of Aboudi’s case to sign.