Israel/OPT: Palestinian activist Munther Amira must be released immediately and unconditionally
The Israeli authorities must immediately release Palestinian prisoner of conscience Munther Amira, whose arrest, continued detention and sentencing to six months in prison and five years’ probation and a 2,000 Israeli shekels fine (around US $581) for peacefully participating in protests is a blatant and appalling attempt to intimidate those who peacefully protest against Israel’s occupation, Amnesty International said today.
Munther Amira was sentenced to six months in prison by Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank today. He was convicted on four charges relating to his participation in demonstrations, including “participating in a march without a permit”, which is not a recognised criminal offence under international law.
“By sentencing Munther Amira to six months in prison for his peaceful participation in protests, the Israeli authorities continue to show contempt for their obligations to protect the rights of Palestinians living under their occupation. Munther Amira must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Yet again, the Israeli authorities are responding to peaceful protest with arbitrary imprisonment. Instead of unlawfully punishing Munther and other Palestinians who peacefully challenge the harsh reality of the ongoing occupation, the Israeli authorities must remember their legal obligations as the occupying power. This means respecting and protecting the rights of Palestinians to peacefully express themselves.”
Some of the evidence brought to court against Munther Amira included holding signs “rebuking the USA” and “the Balfour Declaration” and holding a sign with activist Ahed Tamimi’s picture on it.
Munther Amira was arrested by Israeli soldiers on 27 December 2017 while peacefully participating in a protest in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The protest called for the release of activists Ahed and Nariman Tamimi.
Munther Amira was initially charged with 13 offences relating to his participation in five separate demonstrations. During his court hearing today, he was convicted on four counts, some of which fall under Israeli Military Order 101, and should not be considered criminal offences under international standards. The charges are disturbing the public order and participating in an illegal march during four demonstrations that took place during November and December 2017. Munther Amir serves as the coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, a community-based group, which provides legal aid and advocacy support to activists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.