Supporting the Palestinian struggle against internal repression
Since Palestinian anti-corruption and human rights activist Nizar Banat was arrested and severaly beaten last week by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces and died in their custody, the Palestinian public has been in outrage. This arrest and torture constituted flagrant violations of sacrosanct Palestinian principles as well as international human rights conventions that the PA is party to. Large protests in the streets and on social media, as well as community-based initiatives have taken place across the West Bank and Gaza, with participation from Palestinian citizens of present-day Israel. Several protests have been met with harsh repression by security forces, including many in civilian clothes, as documented by Palestinian human rights observers.
Palestinians largely consider Banat a “freedom of expression martyr” who was silenced because of his uncompromising exposure of systemic corruption in the PA structures.
Popular and civil society demands for an independent investigation and full accountability for those who ordered and carried out this crime soon evolved to demands for replacing the PA government by a caretaker, inclusive, consensus-based leadership that can prepare for democratic elections for the PA and the PLO.
Palestinian security forces, formed as a pillar of the Oslo Accords, are largely funded and trained by the U.S. and Europe, with the condition of maintaining “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation. The overwhelming majority in Palestinian society, as represented in the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), has unreservedly and repeatedly condemned this “coordination,” as has the PLO, since its official adoption of BDS in 2015.
Some human rights organizations have called on Western governments to cut funding to the PA security forces, given their horrific human rights record. But these same governments are deeply complicit in Israel’s regime of oppression, so they cannot be counted on in this regard.
What you can do:
International human rights activists around the world who wish to support our internal struggle against PA repression and suppression of democratic rights, including freedom of expression, are called upon to pressure parliaments, political parties, and the UN, to:
Condemn the killing of Nizar Banat and call for an independent investigation, in accordance with international standards of independence, adequacy, impartiality, fairness, and the participation of next of kin. This process must ensure the prompt completion, public announcement, scrutiny of the results and recommendations, and the full application of the laws in force;
Hold accountable for this crime all those involved in ordering and executing it;
Hold the PA accountable for its intensifying human rights violations; and
Publicly defend our political rights, no matter who violates them.
The most strategic form of solidarity with the Palestinian people remains increasing BDS pressure on states, institutions and corporations to end their complicity in Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, thus helping us in dismantling it. This would end altogether the need for an “interim” Palestinian authority.
Guidelines for supporting Palestinian civil society’s struggle against PA repression:
Do not speak on behalf of Palestinians. The BNC, the largest coalition in Palestinian society and therefore an authoritative voice of Palestinian society, is calling on international supporters to continue to focus on ending state, institutional and corporate complicity with Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism, the root cause of oppression, rather than shifting their primary focus to attacking the PA instead.
Support Palestinian human rights organizations and defenders to more effectively monitor and report all PA violations of Palestinian human rights, as well as political and social rights, and to hold to account those responsible for these infringements.
Support and amplify Palestinian popular demands for democratic representation and true self-determination. Regardless of the form, this decision is up to Palestinians everywhere (including in exile) to collectively make in the best interest of our liberation struggle as an Indigenous people, half of which is in exile. It is not up to the solidarity movement to decide on our behalf.
Keep BDSing … ISRAELI APARTHEID. This remains the absolutely most effective, ethical and strategic means of supporting the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.