Dear friends and co-workers for justice in Palestine and Israel,
For 2014, the theme of the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI) will be “Let my people go!” (Exodus 9:1). The dates for the observations are from 21-27 September 2014. However, the Working Group which is planning events for the week hopes that the week will launch a year-round advocacy effort in support of an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is perceived by many as a crime against humanity and one of the major human rights violations against Palestinians under the occupation. Over 4,700 Palestinian prisoners languish in Israeli prisons; some have been imprisoned for more than twenty-five years. Since 1967, human rights organizations report that roughly 800,000 have faced prison terms of varying degrees. Many are arrested and held without charge under a draconian measure referred to as “administrative detention” rather than by judicial decree. Their detentions are not for civil crimes but because they chose political resistance to the illegal occupation. They are then subjected to physical and psychological torture in gross violation of international humanitarian law. Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, has characterized Israel’s detention regime as one “designed to disrupt Palestinian society, producing an atmosphere of arbitrariness, instability and powerlessness.” Sadly, children and women constitute a growing number of prisoners.
Israel is the only country in the world where the use of torture is legitimized by its judiciary, up to and including the Israeli Supreme Court – the highest judicial authority in Israel. Israeli interrogators and various security services are licensed to continue torturing prisoners and detainees, confident of their impunity. Israel considers itself exempt from the jurisdiction of international law and the guidance of international conventions.During the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, each day will focus on one sub-theme relating to a particular category of prisoners including:
1. 1948, 1967 and Jerusalem prisoners
2. Child prisoners and arrests of minors
3. Administrative detention
4. Sick prisoners
5. Conscientious objectors
On Sunday 21 September, the opening day of the week, churches around the world will be invited to worship and pray using a special liturgy developed by Palestinian Christians. In keeping with the intent of the week to “Pray, Educate, Advocate”, resources are now being prepared to assist congregations, community groups and individuals to sponsor meetings, protests, study groups, videos, exhibitions, campaigns and other innovative ways to observe the week. These resources will be distributed in advance of the week through a variety of social media.
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) will work with various Palestinian-based groups including the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Kairos Palestine,Addameer, Hurryat, Defense for Children International, Palestine, New Profile and others to build a Palestinian coalition for observance of the week. In 2014, PIEF will also encourage partners in the Global South - Latin America, Africa and Asia – to participate in events.
PIEF invites churches, Christian ecumenical organizations, civil society groups, inter-faith coalitions, student movements, current and former members of EAPPI and individuals around the world to join this effort and demonstrate visible solidarity concerning an issue that has important implications for human rights throughout the world.
For churches this is an especially important opportunity to respond in action to the Amman Call, which articulates the cries for solidarity from our Palestinian sisters and brothers. The Amman Call includes this critical plea: “Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.”
Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum