Sireen Khudiri is a 24 year old Palestinian teacher and human rights activist. She studied computer science at the Open University in Tubas, on the West Bank. Sireen is an advocate of the rights of children in the Jordan Valley to have a decent education and has been active in non-violent campaigns against the abuses imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities. Sireen also writes to publicise the struggle of the Palestinian people for their just rights.
A resident of Tubas, Sireen was arrested and taken away by Israeli forces, after being stopped at a temporary checkpoint while travelling in her car between Tubas and Nablus on the night of 14 May, 2013. The next day, her family home was raided in the early hours of the morning by the Israeli Army. Her father, mother, three brothers, sisters in law and their two young children were rounded up and confined to a room. While 100 Israeli soldiers condoned off the nearby streets, twenty soldiers searched and ransacked the house and took all the families computers away.
This incursion took place in an area that according to the Oslo Accords, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is supposed to be under PA control. Despite this, raids into the PA areas by Israeli occupation forces are a common occurrence and a blatant breach of these accords by Israel.
After her detention Sireen was transferred out of the occupied Palestinian Territories to a prison in Haifa in northern Israel. This practice is illegal under International Law, but like many other international laws and agreements, this procedure is ignored by Israel. Article 49 of the Geneva Convention states that:
individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power or that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.
Article 76 also states, 'persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country and serve their sentences therein.'
Since her detention, she has been denied access to a lawyer and not allowed to make contact with her family. Sireen has appeared in court four times since her arrest, with her hands and legs shackled. Each time her detention in prison has been extended. This Israeli procedure of administrative detention is a measure routinely employed by Israel so Palestinians can be held indefinitely, for weeks, months or even years, without being charged, or allowed to stand trial. Administrative detention is mainly used against non-violent political activists. Israel currently holds about 180 Palestinian political prisoners in administrative detention. The Israeli practice of administrative detention contravenes Article 9, of the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Amnesty International has frequently criticised Israel for using administrative detention to imprison Palestinians for long periods without charge or putting them on trial. An Amnesty International report in 2012 stated that:
administrative detention is used regularly by the Israeli authorities as a form of political detention, enabling the authorities to arbitrarily detain political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, and that the practice is used to punish them for their views and suspected political affiliations when they have not committed any crime.
The European Union has also condemned this policy.
Sireen is accused by Israel of creating a Facebook page that would harm the "security" of Israel. But in reality she is in prison due to her internet activism. Apparently, Israeli authorities were offended by something she wrote criticising Israel actions on her Facebook site. Israel is increasingly anxious about any bad publicity leaking out that damages it’s supposed "liberal and democratic" status and reacts with repressive measures against writers, journalists and intellectuals that expose Israeli abuses in the occupied territories.
Sireen’s crime wasn’t an act that threatens Israel’s security, in any military sense, but in disclosing the daily oppressive conditions Palestinians live under she helps to reveal to the outside world the brutal facts of the Israeli occupation. This is precisely the kind of news that Israel tries very hard to prevent getting out in the open. And whilst little critical information about the actual situation of Israeli rule in the West Bank gets reported in the western mainstream media, where Israel exerts much influence, the internet is more challenging for the Israeli censors to control. That's why cartoonists, artists, writers and internet activists like Sireen are now being targeted for harassment, arrest and imprisonment.
Sireen Khudiri is in prison simply for administering a Facebook page and her internet reporting. Sireen is being held illegally by Israeli authorities and by its gross violations of her basic human and civil rights Israel shows once again that it has no respect for International Law. All those concerned about justice and human rights can support and express solidarity with Sireen by signing petitions, writing letters to papers, making others aware of her situation by sharing information and organising a protest rally. Call for Israel to immediately release Sireen Khudiri!
- For more information and to support Sireen Khudiri, contact the Free Sireen Khudiri Facebook site