FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2017, London, United Kingdom - As Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the UK, 36 British Parliamentarians signed on to a cross-party letter today calling on UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to support Palestinian activist Issa Amro, currently on trial in Israeli military court. The letter asks Johnson to take “urgent diplomatic action to encourage Israeli authorities to reconsider the charges” against Amro, stating the UK has a responsibility to “protect nonviolent activists exercising the right to peaceful protest.” Signatories of the letter include parliamentarians from the Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Green and Conservative parties. Amnesty International has called all the charges against Amro “baseless” and politically motivated. Earlier this week, Amnesty called on Theresa May to use Netanyahu’s visit as an opportunity to advocate for Amro.
Israeli military court has a conviction rate of 99.74%. Amro is being singled out by Israel’s occupation authorities, for his nonviolent protest activities. In an effort to silence him they have revised 18 charges against him dating back to 2010. The charges include such things as insulting a soldier, being in a closed military zone and participating in a march without a permit. Amro’s trial began on July 9. His most recent court date was last Sunday, October 29, and his next two court dates are November 5 and December 26. Diplomats and officials from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UN, France, Germany, the US, the EU and more have been present at Amro court appearances.
“I am being persecuted by an Israeli military court in order to stop my human rights work to protect my people and the Palestinian identify of my city,” said Amro. “The military trial I am facing, and the prison term I likely will serve, is part of Israel's increasing efforts to erase us from our homes and lands. Already, the Hebron of today is radically different from the one of my childhood. The names of the streets are being changed from Arabic to Hebrew. Families cannot bear to live among the checkpoints and constant violence and harassment from settlers and soldiers. Now, 31 new settlement units are to be built on Shuhada Street, Hebron's main street now closed completely to Palestinians
The persecution of Amro is part of a recent increase of repression of peaceful Palestinian human rights defenders by Israel’s occupying army. Hebron, Amro’s hometown, is a microcosm of Israel’s brutal, 50-year-old military occupation, where a few hundred violent, extremist Jewish settlers live in the heart of the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank protected by thousands of Israeli soldiers. Recent months have seen a rapid escalation of repression in Hebron. In July, settlers occupied and have continued to remain in another Palestinian home in the city. A few weeks ago, Israel approved the first new settlement units in Hebron’s old city since 2002 and recognized it as an independent settlement separate from others nearby.
In 2010, Mr. Amro was declared Human Rights Defender of the Year in Palestine by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In 2013 he was declared a Human Rights Defender by the European Union. His status as an EU Human Rights Defender was reaffirmed in 2016. Amro’s case was included in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights Priority Country Status Report. In June 2017, four US senators, including Senator Bernie Sanders, sent a letter to the US State Department inquiring about his case, and 32 representatives sent a separate letter urging Israel to drop the charges against him. Additional letters have also been sent by other Members of US Congress.