Human Rights — 18 April 2013

The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag details the experiences of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in prisons in the OPT and in Israel itself. All prisoners regardless of whether they are convicted criminals, awaiting trial prisoners, freedom fighters or prisoners of war should be subject to the same international code of conduct regarding their treatment. Respect for human dignity and basic human rights should form the hallmark of states treatment of their most vulnerable and perhaps despised members of their societies.

However, countries like Israel, leave a an abysmal record when it comes to its treatment of Palestinian prisoners; indeed, let alone the Palestinian people. Prisoner Diaries is timed to be released with Palestinian Prisoners Day, 17 April. The Palestinian prisoner has become symbolic of the Palestinian struggle. Prisoner Diaries pays tribute to the basic humanity of not just Palestinian prisoners, but of all human beings. Prisoners, despite our feelings towards them, suffer them same feelings, desires and torments as every other person.

Yet, in the case of Israel, Palestinian prisoners are subjected to utterly inhumane conditions and treatment. And despite Israels flagrant disregard for international law, its behaviour goes unchecked. The world made a fuss about the capture of one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit by Hamas in 2006, and yet it remains virtually silent if not fumbling for words at the illegal and inhumane conditions of thousands of Palestinian prisoners under Israeli detention.

If we are to build a world based on the principles of international law, peace, equality and justice, then all states, particularly those who are powerful and who should know better, must work towards respecting these principles for the betterment of all humanity.

Read Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteurs book review of Prisoner Diaries here.

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(2) Readers Comments

  1. I am unfamiliar with the condition of Palestinians who are prisoners in Israel, but I know that other prisoners, in Israel (like Mr. Yigal Amir) and elsewhere, are treated much harsher. So my proposal is, that Israel should release all prisoners, Palestinians or not, from before the implementation of the Oslo agreements. But there should be a condition to doing it, which is, that the US releases prisoners who are related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and who are in US prison from before the implementation of the Oslo agreements, that the Islamic authorities in Bosnia release Borislav Herak (whose alleged victims are actually alive and well), and that South Africa releases all prisoners who are in prison from before the inauguration of Mandela as president. This proposal is only fair and reasonable.

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