TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP HUMAN RIGHTS IN PALESTINE
The protection of human rights and promotion of international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) is not only the business of governments; it requires the effort of civil society groups and individuals worldwide to ensure that Palestinian civilians receive the protections to which they entitled under international law.
PCHR’s position is that Palestinian civilians must be protected through the de jure application of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the OPT and that Israel must end its occupation of Palestinian territory seized in 1967 and ensure the Palestinian people the right to self-determination. Fulfilling these basic rights is the minimum standard. There are many ways to help achieve these goals.
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Although many people are beginning to talk about an end to the second Palestinian Intifada, which began in September 2000, the situation of the Palestinian civilian population remains dire. Since the Sharm el Sheikh summit Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) have continued to kill Palestinians and to commit other human rights violations: Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are still forbidden from travelling to the West Bank and the checkpoint and closure system is still in place across the OPT. Significantly – the IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall in the West Bank – and settlement construction and expansion is visible in large numbers of the illegal settlements across the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
For this reason PCHR is asking activists, members of the public, trade unions, business people, NGOs and any other interested parties to continue to take steps to help human rights in occupied Palestine.
Here are some methods we suggest for assisting, if you have any other ideas or comments then please contact us at [email protected] .
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Solidarity Campaigns are organisations with a worldwide spread but a community focus– they are active in promoting awareness and understanding of the plight of Palestinians. By joining your local campaign you can become involved in advocacy, organising events and even witnessing first hand what is happening at the hands of the IOF.
In France, la Campagne Internationale pour la Protection du Peuple Palestinien can be contacted at [email protected].
In Spain, the Associacion Al-Quds de Solidaridad con los Pueblos del Mundo Arab can also be contacted [email protected] or[email protected] and the Comite de Solidaridad con la Causa Arabe can be contacted at [email protected].
To include details of your organisation or for more details about solidarity groups in other countries please send an email to [email protected].
Modern marketing experts are only now discovering what grassroots activists have known for years – that change comes through people communicating with other people. Tell people about what is happening in Palestine by giving them copies of our reports. You can circulate our reports via e-mail to save paper and be more environmentally aware – ask friends and family to join our mailing list so they can read first hand the experiences of Palestinian civilians.
Where appropriate ask your local library, community centre or religious centre if you can leave copies of our reports in a prominent public area. If you are printing out or photocopying our reports please try to use recycled paper to help the environment.
PCHR already gets many of our reports translated into Spanish and a limited number translated into Italian and French. However we are always keen to inform new groups of people about our work and don’t want to assume that everyone can read about what is happening in Palestine through Arabic and English. We would be happy to receive volunteers to translate reports into any language, though our priority is to focus on languages such as French, Portuguese and German (and any other European languages), and Asian languages such as those in the Indian sub-continent, Chinese and Japanese. To find out how to become involved in translating PCHR documents please e-mail us at [email protected] .
PCHR believes that the question of Palestine can be resolved through the implementation of internationally agreed standards of behaviour. Most governments have signed up to the instruments of international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention (which governs the behaviour of an occupying power) – this means that, according to Article 1 of the Convention, they have a binding obligation to “ensure respect” for the Convention.
Recently the International Court of Justice found that all governments had a special obligation not to recognise the attempt by Israel to annex more Palestinian land (by building the Wall in the West Bank) and that governments have a clear obligation to ensure that the Annexation Wall is dismantled.
Please write to your government and remind them of their obligations and ask them to take firm measures, not just empty utterances, to help Palestinian civilians achieve an end to the Israeli occupation of their land. As more people write to their governments these governments will understand that the question of Palestine is no longer one they can ignore – at home or abroad.
More action is required to let people in authority know the strength of feeling about this question and a very visible way of doing this is by taking to the streets in protest at the conspiracy of silence practised by governments on the question of Palestine. However street events don’t always have to be sombre or serious events – use your imagination and organise carnivals and festivals which educate your community about Palestinian food, dress, music, poetry and other aspects of the culture. Such events can be an opportunity to explain to people that this culture is being suffocated and eradicated by the belligerent Israeli occupation.
If you are organising a protest then try to be innovative – standing around with placards while shouting slogans is useful to a point but why not try to use costume and art to grab peoples’ attention instead. People will appreciate the efforts you have made and become more interested in what you have to say. If you want to see some examples of events people have already organised please click here.
If you want to organise some sort of street festival or protest then please contact your local Palestine Solidarity Campaign and ask for their advice and support. If you organise something innovative or exciting then please make sure to send us a photograph or two and we will be happy to tell people in Gaza about what you are doing to support the Palestinian right of self-determination. Please send photographs or other information to [email protected] .
As well as Solidarity Campaigns in your own locality there are many other NGOs working on the question of human rights in both Palestine and Israel. PCHR believes that it is civil society which provides a forum for the conscience of the world. Civil society forms a human network, supporting universal values, that even occupation can not break. Offering support to other civil society organisations can be a way of making an impact in a wide variety of fields from traditional human rights groups to those who work on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights such as mental health or pedagogy.
Recently the Methodist Church in the USA began a programme of progressive divestment from companies that were supporting human rights violations in Israel. If you are managing a business or investing Pension Funds on behalf of a religious body, trade union or other organisation you may already be investing ethically. Please ask your broker to ensure that companies which support the Israeli occupation and the associated human rights violations are excluded from your investment portfolio. Companies who do this include those who operate in illegal Israeli settlements and companies who manufacture and supply equipment or provide services which support the occupation of Palestine.
Remember even individuals can invest ethically by ensuring that your pension, or other elements of your investment portfolio, are invested with an ethical investment broker.
PCHR survives on the goodwill of our partners and some select governments who fund the work we carry out. However we welcome the support of other interested parties who wish to support human rights in Palestine. To find out more about the PCHR programme and why you need to donate please click here.
Not exactly a normal tourist trip: but we invite you to come and witness for yourself the shocking actions of the IOF, see the West Bank Wall or climb over the rubble from the extensive house demolitions, see the places where the Israeli military carried out its brutal policy of extra-judicial executions, see the bullet-riddled schools where children try to learn.
But you will also meet Palestine civilians, many of them refugees – people who have nothing but who will welcome you like you were a long lost family member. One way or another we guarantee you an unforgettable experience if you visit Palestine -and a lot to talk about when you get home.
Many of the solidarity groups listed above will be able to facilitate your efforts to visit Palestine – Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People (GIPPP) is an umbrella organisation for Palestinian and European groups organising civilian delegations to the OPT.