On Saturday 15 August, 2009, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ (PCHR) Deputy Director, Jaber Wishah, travelled to Ireland to conduct an advocacy campaign aimed at raising a
wareness of the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, and Palestine. Mr. Wishah was invited to Ireland by Front Line Defenders, and coordination for his visit was secured with the aid of Trocaire. During the course of the tour, Mr. Wishah discussed the current human rights situation in Palestine, paying particular attention to the situation in the Gaza Strip following the Israeli offensive and in light of the continuing illegal closure. He also addressed Ireland’s responsibilities with respect to Israel-Palestine in the EU.
On Monday, 17 August, Mr. Wishah met with representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Attending the meeting were Mr. Stephen Dawson (Deputy Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa) and Ms. Orla Keane (Deputy Director at Human Rights Unit). After discussing the current situation in Palestine, Mr. Wishah raised key issues regarding Ireland’s responsibility with respect to the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Mr. Wishah urged the government of Ireland to re-evaluate the Agreement in light of Israel’s extensive, and well documented, violations of human rights, in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty, (“the human rights clause”). The meeting ended with Mr. Wishah expressing PCHR’s sincere thanks to the Irish government, and organisations such as Trocaire and Front Line Defenders, who continue to support human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
On Tuesday, 18 August, Mr. Wishah met with ex-prisoners, and Coiste in West Belfast. A number of meetings were held throughout the day, and participants included Gerard Foster (ex-Irish National Liberation Army), Alasdair Lytle (ex-Ulster Volunteer Force), Evelyn Braeburn and Caitlin NiChonaill (Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign), Bill Roston (Ulster Unionits), Annelien Groten, Gemma McCourt, and Brigitta Elliott (Trocaire), and Eithne McNulty.
Again, Mr. Wishah discussed the current situation in Palestine, and once more stressed the importance of Ireland’s role in the EU, talking about the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and the importance of donor responsibility. It is essential that international donors do not continue to bankroll the costs of the occupation, but instead pressure Israel to bear responsibility for its actions. Speaking of any potential reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Wishah stressed that it is imperative that the State of Israel does not profit from this process.
The meeting ended with a tour of West Belfast, organised by Coiste.
On Wednesday, 19 August, Mr. Wishah conducted individual meetings with Mark Durkan (Leader, Social Democratic & Labour Party), and Don Brown (former prisoner). Once again, issues focused on the role and responsibility of the Irish government in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Christy Cyle then lead Mr. Wishah on a walking tour of the Bogside, before a further meeting was held with Trocaire, and former prisoners Darren Boyle and Don Brown.
On Thursday, 20 August, Mr. Wishah met with Derry City Councillor, Gerry McLochlain (Sinn Feinn). Mr. McLochlain has recently visited the Gaza Strip, and the meeting focused on updating the Councillor on the current situation, and investigating future possibilities with respect to further action and cooperation.
Later that same day, Mr. Wishah conducted an interview with Highland Radio. He discussed the current situation in the Gaza Strip, and his experiences during the Israeli offensive.
In the evening of 19 August, Mr. Wishah then gave a public talk at Letterkenny Regional Cultural Centre. Here he spoke about the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip and Palestine, and answered questions on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the internal Palestinian conflict.