Over the past two weeks we have been keeping very busy; drawing up strategy plans for the next 10 weeks, beginning to improve the campaign’s online presence and establishing international contacts for the Right 2 Education week. We had an exciting break from routine on Monday morning as we met with Al-Haq – a leading human rights NGO based in Ramallah.
Following a little confusion over the location of Al-Haq’s offices we sat down to listen to a talk from Dr. Isam Abdeen, a consultant and legal researcher for the organization’s advocacy department. The discussion mainly focused on the imprisonment of Palestinian citizens by the Palestinian Authority. He told us about Al Haq's strategies for improving the enforcement of law and human rights for Palestinian citizens during incarceration.
The understanding of the majority of internationals regarding the occupation of Palestine has been heavily influenced by the media and typically broadcasted solely as conflict between the two peoples – Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. I was therefore surprised to understand that a great deal of the work that Al-Haq does involves the documentation of and campaigning to amend internal human rights violations on Palestinian citizens (by the Palestinian Authority).
Dr Abdeen spoke to us about Palestinian prisoners within occupied Palestine and explained that the constitution prohibits civilians being trialed within military courts. Despite this, the Palestinian Authority diverged from civil law and civilians were being arbitrarily arrested and trialed before a military court since 1994. Al-Haq and other Palestinian human rights organisations have facilitated change by applying financial pressure on the Palestinian Authority via its donors, and as of the 16th January 2011 the PA announced that its civilians would no longer be tried before a military court.
In theory this is a promising step towards the legitimization of the PA’s practices but violations still exist. Al-Haq are currently working to advocate civilians' right to protest freely and freedom of expression, association and assembly.
To find out more about the work that Al-Haq do visit their website: http://www.alhaq.org/