A Palestinian father of 6 is in critical condition after over 100 days of hunger strike. Forty-nine-year old Maher Al-Akhras is protesting against Israel’s use of administrative detention, and demands to be set free.
Please take a few minutes of your time to send this email (or a version of it) to our incoming Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahua at email@example.com
Free Maher Al-Akhras & end Israeli administrative detention
Kia ora Minister Mahuta,
Congratulations on your new role as Foreign Minister, it is exciting that Aotearoa will be represented on the international stage by a strong, wahine Minister.
I appreciate that one of the heavier responsibilities of your Ministerial role is to draw attention to human rights abuses and hold foreign states accountable for their failure to adhere to the principles of international law. It is with this in mind that I want to draw your attention to the plight of Palestinian father of 6, Maher al-Akhras, who is in imminent danger of death having spent over 100 days on hunger strike in protest against Israel’s use of administrative detention against him.
As I am sure you are aware, administrative detention is a barbaric procedure that runs against all principles of international law. It allows Israel to hold prisoners on “secret” information without charging them or allowing them access to a fair trial. And the detention can be extended indefinitely. Introduced into the former state of Palestine by the British colonial power, administrative detention has become a key tool of the Israeli military occupation and is used to extend and defend its settler colonial project in Palestine.
According to the Palestinian prisoners rights organization Addameer, Israel currently holds over 4,400 Palestinian political prisoners, 350 administrative detainees, and 155 child prisoners. It is well documented that Israel uses torture and ill-treatment regularly against Palestinian detainees, including children. Over 73% of children experience physical violence after arrest, and 96% are interrogated without a family member or lawyer present. (See Defense for Children International – Palestine)
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) said that Maher al-Akhras is “facing a serious and imminent threat to his life at Kaplan Medical Center… Maher has been experiencing frequent seizures, acute headaches, significant weakness in his vision and hearing, in addition to severe pain all over his body, especially his chest area.” Despite this, Israel continues to keep Maher detained under armed guard.
Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, has called for the immediate release of Maher al-Akhras, and an end to Israel’s illegal practice of administrative detention. Lynk stated:
“Administrative detention is an anathema in any democratic society that follows the rule of law. When the democratic state arrests and detains someone, it is required to charge the person, present its evidence in an open trial, allow for a full defence and try to persuade an impartial judiciary of its allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.
Administrative detention, in contrast, allows a state to arrest and detain a person without charges, without a trial, without knowing the evidence against her or him, and without a fair judicial review. It is a penal system that is ripe for abuse and maltreatment.”
Without access to legal counsel or due process it is not surprising that many Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention choose to protest with measures of last resort like the hunger strike. Clearly, Maher does not want to die. His actions are intended to draw attention to his plight and to call on the international community to act to end Israel’s barbaric treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and the unlawful use of administrative detention. The end of this month, the 29th of November, marks UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Please show your solidarity with the Palestinian people and make the following one of your first actions as Foreign Minister:
– Call on Israel to immediately release Maher al-Akhras.
– Call on Israel to end its practice of administrative detention and ensure Palestinians are guaranteed their right to a fair trial.
– Make all New Zealand trade deals with Israel conditional on respecting human rights and international law, including the treatment of prisoners.