Saturday, July 9, 2011

Press Release

Palestinians in the "Welcome to Palestine" coalition condemn in the strongest
possible terms the attack by Israeli forces on dozens of detained human rights activists.

 One of those detained reported (before his phone was apparently removed) how 32 people were held together in one room and then
attacked, forcefully handcuffed and dragged into separate transfer vehicles.  They were then forcefully transferred to the Ramle
detention facility by the forces of the apartheid regime.  Lawyers have been trying to reach the Ministry of Interior to gain access to
the abductees and to assure that they receive their right to legal representation, to visits from their country consular staff, and to
call their families.  Israeli authorities said they are holding 85 people pending deportation "on the next available flight".  We know of
activists held who come from Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, and Ireland.  Multiple flights were also delayed before
departure (apparently to give Israel more time). Activists held demonstrations at several airports in Europe.

Supporters who tried to welcome our visitors were stopped and denied entrance to the airport.  Each airport visitor was asked to show
either that he/she is traveling or that they are there to meet a specific person (names were checked against arriving flight passenger
lists).  The few who did manage to get in were immediately attacked even as they peacefully tried to wait for arriving guests. Six were
arrested for exercising their right to free speech.

We held a press conference Friday morning to explain our invitation, our campaign, and the week program. We decried the compliance of some airlines in human rights violations (Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Malev, and Easy Jet).  It amounts to the export and outsourcing of policies of occupation and human rights violations from Israel to other countries.  Friday weekly demonstrations in the West Bank raised the banner of human solidarity and decried the Israeli attacks.  We decried the defamatory statements about our visitors that paved the grounds for violating their rights. A demonstration was also held Friday afternoon in front of the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

We urge all people to write to the media, to their governments, and to all fellow human beings to say that "enough is enough": Israel must be forced to respect basic human rights, allow free travel and most of all end apartheid and colonization. As a matter of urgency, Western governments must insist that Israeli authorities release those they kidnapped, afford them all protections due them, and punish officials who mistreated our guests.

Bethlehem: Fadi Kattan
Skype welcome.palestine

Jerusalem: Nikki or Laura

Berlin: Sophia Deeg

Paris:  Nicolas Shahshahani

USA: Karin Pally

UK: Sofiah Macleod
Skype: scottishpsc

International Media Coordination: Elsa Rassbach
Skype: elsarassbach

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