Posts Tagged ‘B’Tselem’

Images and military-style precision characterize violations-recording group

April 16, 2016

In this file photo, Videre Est Credere founder, Oren Yakobovich, holds a miniature camera with which he equips human rights defenders to expose abuses on the ground. Videre Photo/Handout via TRF

Videre Est Credere founder, Oren Yakobovich, holds a miniature camera with which he equips human rights defenders to expose abuses on the ground. Videre Photo

Astrid Zweynert of the Thomson Reuters Foundation published a very interesting interview on 15 April 2016 with Oren Yakobovich, founder of Videre Est Cruder:

Videre Est Credere, founded by Yakobovich, equips human rights defenders with cameras – some of them almost as small as a shirt button – and training to expose violence and human rights abuses around the world. “Our vision is that no human rights violation anywhere should go unnoticed, no matter how remote and dangerous a place is,” Yakobovich, a former Israeli army officer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation before being awarded the $1.25 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship at a conference in Oxford this week.

Videre’s mission is to reveal abuses of armies, security forces, militia groups or officials through a network of activists who film and record abuses and violations of human rights, often at enormous personal risk. Since Videre was founded in 2008 it has distributed more than 500 videos to more than 140 media outlets, including major broadcasters such as the BBC and CNN. “It’s great to get something broadcast by a big TV channel but it’s most effective when it goes out on local stations – it makes it very clear to the perpetrators that they are being watched – and that’s powerful,” Yakobovich said. Footage has also been used in court cases to prosecute corruption and incitement to political violence.Yakobovich said his own journey to becoming a human rights activist started after he joined the Israeli Defense Forces at the age of 18.

I spent a lot of the time in the West Bank and it shocked me what we were doing there – checkpoints in crowded areas in the city, raids on Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, scaring small children,” the 45-year-old said. Eventually, he refused to serve in the West Bank, a decision that landed him in jail. “It gave me time to think and it struck me how powerful information is, but also how little voice those have who are suffering – and how little accurate information we are getting from those places.”

He became a documentary filmmaker but said he was not happy spending more time at film festivals than helping people. “I realised that people who are suffering need to tell their own stories, not the journalists or the filmmakers.” In 2005 Yakobovich joined the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and set up a video unit. Three years later he co-founded Videre Est Credere – which means “to see is to believe” – with Israeli filmmaker Uri Fruchtmann.

Videre has deployed some 600 people across Africa, the Middle East and Asia and has partnered with organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. In-depth research, solid on-the-ground contacts and thorough verification are key for Videre, which is highly secretive about its work to avoid putting human rights activists at risk. No one has been killed as a result of its work but some activists have been arrested. “The safety of the people we work with is paramount,” Yakobovich said, adding that Videre applies a “military-style” precision and security to its operations. “I’m still a soldier, just not in the army anymore,” he said.

(Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)

Source: INTERVIEW-Secretive human rights group fights abuses with military-style precision

 

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/responsible-data-forum-to-be-held-in-san-francisco-on-29-march/

Violence in the occupied territories keeps HRDs busy

February 13, 2016

Israel has used excessive force against Palestinians, Makarim Wibisono, the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Gaza and the West Bank said, calling for an investigation. He demanded that all Palestinian prisoners, including children, be charged or released. “The upsurge in violence is a grim reminder of the unsustainable human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the volatile environment it engenders”.  Makarim Wibisono has announced he is resigning in protest at the Israeli government’s response to his concerns (his term would have expired on 31 March). The special investigator quoted statistics by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which say that about 5,680 Palestinians, including children, were detained by Israel as of the end of October 2015. Detaining these people “often under secret evidence, and for up to six-month terms that can be renewed indefinitely, is not consistent with international human rights standards,” Wibisono said, adding that the Israeli government “should promptly charge or release all administrative detainees.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon branded Wibisono’s report as biased. “The report reflects the one-sidedness of the mandate and its flagrant anti-Israel bias. It is this one-sidedness which has made the rapporteur’s mission impossible to fulfill, hence his resignation,” he said.

Front Line reports that on 3 February 2016, human rights defender Mr Awni Abu Shamsiyya, son of human rights defender Mr Emad Abu Shamsiyya, was arrested alongside youth activist Mr Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi. The arrest took place after a raid on the Shamsiyya family home in Tel-Rumeida, Hebron. Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi were accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and of posting inflammatory statements on Facebook. [Awni Abu Shamsiyya is a 16 year old, known for his participation in the Palestinian non-violent popular resistance movement in Hebron. He is also an active member of the Human Rights Defenders Group, a non-partisan group that aims to document and expose violations of international law and injustice against families in areas of conflict under Israeli occupation. His father, Emad Abu Shamsiyya, is a long-standing activist in Palestine and volunteer at B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, where he is involved in documenting the occupation of Tel-Rumeida. He is also a deputy coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Group.In May 2015, Emad Abu Shamsiyya’s family home was subjected to an attempted arson attack by settlers in the middle of the night. In March 2015, a group of soldiers invaded  his family home, searched the house and confiscated the family’s computer hard disk and a memory card containing footage filmed by  B’Tselem volunteers. Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - croppedhttp://www.btselem.org/hebron/20150402_night_search_and_confiscation]

On 4 February 2016, Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi were interrogated by Israeli police and intelligence services before being brought before the military court of Ofer, where the accusations against the young activists of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and posting inflammatory statements on social media were presented, and a fine of appr €460 was requested by the military prosecutor. The court ordered Awni Abu Shamsiyya’s release after holding that the accusations against him had not been proven, however, the trial of Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi was postponed to 7 February 2016 after it was claimed by the military prosecutor that his confession had been obtained.

 

As an illustration of the context in which the violence and arrests occur see the report of Tuesday, 9 February 2016, by the International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team (Hebron), which published graphic pictures of Israeli forces patrolling the Palestinian market in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), harassing and intimidating residents.

Israeli forces ontheir patrol through the Palestinian market

Israeli forces on their patrol through the Palestinian market

Any male adult or youth was stopped on their way to work and forced by the Israeli soldiers to lift up their shirts and trouser-pants, as well as throw their IDs on the ground. After throwing their IDs on the ground Israeli soldiers ordered the men to move back, so they could pick up the IDs from a ‘safe distance’. Most Palestinians were dismissed after this humiliating procedure, whereas some of them were detained for minutes or violently body-searched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also interesting to note here the protest by Palestinian human rights defenders who are condemning the killing by Hamas of one of the resistance organization’s own members in Gaza. On Sunday, the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced it had executed Mahmoud Rushdi Ishteiwi. Qassam said that the slaying of Ishteiwi implemented a death sentence issued by “the military and Sharia judiciaries of Qassam Brigades for behavioral and moral excesses that he confessed.”

Killing Ishteiwi in such a way constitutes an assault on the rule of law and might institutionalize a serious case of extrajudicial execution,” said the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). “Prosecuting collaborators with the Israeli forces is necessary, and the Palestinian armed groups play an important role in such prosecution,” PCHR stated. “However, only official authorities should open investigations and hold the perpetrators to account.” Following news of Mahmoud Ishteiwi’s execution, Buthaina Ishteiwi told the Wattan news outlet that she believed her brother had been killed due to a dispute with his superiors.

[Under the laws of the Palestinian Authority, death sentences issued by courts can only be carried out after ratification by the PA president. The West Bank-based PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has not ratified any death sentences in a decade. Hamas has however continued the use of the death penalty in Gaza. According to PCHR, a total of 172 death sentences have been issued since the PA was established in 1994, of which 30 were in the West Bank and 142 in Gaza. Eighty-four death sentences were issued since Hamas took over in Gaza in 2007. But however serious the threat from informants, Palestinian human rights defenders have been adamant that even wartime collaboration must be dealt with according to the rule of law. Both PCHR and Al Mezan have moreover long advocated the total abolition of the death penalty in all cases. In a short film entitled “Against the Death Penalty” and released in December, PCHR highlights its campaign to end the practice once and for all.]

https://www.rt.com/news/332245-israel-excessive-force-palestine/

Source: Palestinian human rights defenders condemn execution by Hamas | The Electronic Intifada

http://palsolidarity.org/2016/02/intimidating-military-patrol-of-palestinian-market/

Why did so many assume B’Tselem fire was arson?

January 13, 2016

Further to my post about the pressure under which human rights defenders in Israel have to work [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/michael-sfardjan-israels-human…] this post by Chelsey Berlin (B’Tselem USA) “The blaze at B’Tselem’s Jerusalem office was an accident, but many of us assumed it was arson”  is telling:

In “Why Did We Assume B’Tselem Fire Was Arson?” she explains the context:  …..”For months, the message that human rights defenders are the problem in Israel has been repeatedly delivered with sledgehammer strength: In Tirtzu’s video labeling four human rights activists, including B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, “moles”; the government’s ongoing legislative crusade against organizations receiving foreign government funding, and last Thursday’s sensationalized report on an Israeli TV news program that aired false accusations against a B’Tselem field researcher. All this is done to hide the dire situation they expose, the real evil, which is the occupation, the human rights violations it produces in the occupied Palestinian territories and the fascism increasingly required of Israel to maintain it.“….

(When news broke on 10 January 2015 of a fire at B’Tselem’s Jerusalem office most feared the worst: arson. Since then, the smoke has cleared — literally — and a preliminary investigation has been concluded. The Jerusalem fire brigade has announced that the cause of the fire was likely an electrical fault.)

Source: Why Did We Assume B’Tselem Fire Was Arson? – Opinion – Forward.com

B’Tselem awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award

September 14, 2014

The Israeli group of human rights defenders, B’Tselem, has been awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association [for more information on the Stockholm Human Rights Award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/stockholm-human-rights-award].

The press release of 14 September states: “Promoting human rights standards from inside one’s country requires an unwavering willingness to endure criticism from within, regardless of potential repercussions. Maintaining integrity and dignity is at the core of human rights defense. B’Tselem has shown international light on human rights violations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, providing a voice to victims and calling for accountability. It is commendable that B’Tselem has so tirelessly fought to uphold human rights in an environment where its criticism has not always been welcome.” 

via BTselem awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award | BTselem.

Israeli NGOs condemn raid on offices of Palestinian colleagues

December 13, 2012

Yesterday, 12 December 2012, the undersigned Israel based organizations protest the aggressive treatment of three Palestinian civil society organizations by the Israeli military and demand that all property seized be restored and that the work of civil society organizations—and especially those comprised of human rights defenders – be protected and respected.

Early morning yesterday, 11 December 2012, just a few hours after the end of International Human Rights Day, the Israeli military entered the offices of three Palestinian organizations in Ramallah: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights; Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee and the Palestinian NGO Network. The organizations were not provided with any explanation for the search or shown a search warrant and their staff members were not present during the search. The soldiers caused extensive damage to some of the offices and confiscated computers, hard discs, cameras and other essential equipment.

Addameer office after the raid. Photo: Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem, 11 Dec. 2012

Addameer office after the raid. Photo: Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 11 Dec. 2012

The undersigned organizations emphasize that all individuals have the right to freedom of association, and to be free from arbitrary or unlawful interference in their homes and offices, and to due process of law. It is particularly important that human rights organizations enjoy such rights so that they can protect and ensure the rights of others. A free civic space within which Palestinian individuals are able to organize is critical for the protection of Palestinian’s basic rights. Actions such as those taken by the Israeli military threaten this free civic space and damage the protection Palestinian human rights.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in IsraelThe Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)B’Tselem – The Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territoriesGisha – Legal Center for Freedom of MovementHamoked – Center for the Defence of the IndividualPhysicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-Israel); The Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI)Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR);Yesh Din

 

http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20121212_military_raid_on_hr_organizations

Israel refuses to let HRD Shawan Jabarin travel to receive award in Denmark

November 30, 2011

Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in re...

Image via Wikipedia

On 29 November 29, 2011 Israeli authorities turned West Bank resident Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, back at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan, citing a travel ban. Several NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem, said that the Israeli authorities violated Jabarin’s rights in imposing the ban and have not produced any evidence that would justify continuing to restrict him from travel.

The travel ban would seem to be clearly linked to his human rights work as Jabarin was stopped since 2006, when he became director of Al-Haq, a leading human rights organization in the West Bank, while Israel had allowed him to travel abroad eight times in the previous seven years. The Israeli military previously claimed in court that Jabarin was an activist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel considers a terrorist organization, and that his travel abroad for even a limited period would endanger Israel’s security. However, Israeli authorities have not charged Jabarin with any crime or given him an opportunity to confront the allegations against him. The Israeli High Court of Justice has upheld Jabarin’s travel ban on security grounds, but did so based on secret information that Jabarin and his lawyer were not allowed to see or challenge. “It is hard to believe any claim that Jabarin’s travel to Denmark to receive a human rights award would harm Israeli security, the more so when any evidence is kept secret,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While civil society groups recognize Jabarin’s courageous work, Israel is punishing him with a travel ban.”

The ban has prevented Jabarin from leaving the West Bank to receive a human rights prize from the Danish PL Foundation (Poul Lauritzen), participate in a European Union forum on human rights, and attend a Human Rights Watch meeting in New York City.  “The ban preventing Shawan Jabarin from traveling abroad to receive an award is emblematic of the arbitrary restrictions placed on Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society activists,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s MENA Programme Director. “It must be lifted, and the Israeli authorities must stop using unspecified security concerns to obstruct the work of Palestinian human rights activists.”  Nina Atallah, the head of Al-Haq’s monitoring and documentation department, will try to travel to the prize ceremony.

It is a pity that Israel,in this respect, is emulating Iran, which is the only country until now to prevent the MEA Laureate Emad Baghi to travel to his ceremony in 2009.
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