Saturday, December 06, 2014

Political Prisoners in America and Israel

Political Prisoners in America and Israel

by Stephen Lendman

Thousands languish in their gulags. Among the worst worldwide. For supporting human rights. Voicing dissent. Opposing what no one should support. 

Denouncing police state practices. Wanting brutalized people liberated. Urging others to get active for freedom. 

Demand fundamental change. For rights everyone deserves. Affirmed under international law.

Real democracy. Not fantasy illusion. Government of, by and for everyone equitably.

America and Israel oppose these notions. Criminalize them irresponsibly. Subject offenders to brutalizing treatment. 

Including barbaric solitary confinement. Worst when longterm. Torture by any other name. 

Worse than physical abuse. Psychology Professor Craig Haney says longterm isolation produces irrational anger, chronic apathy, lethargy, depression and despair.

Some prisoners stop behaving. Become catatonic. Others experience revenge fantasies. 

Some normal prisoners become sociopaths. Others hallucinate out-of-control.

In 1890, the US Supreme Court almost banned the practice. On grounds of unconstitutionality. 

Writing for the majority in a case involving a convicted murderer isolated for a month, Justice Samuel Miller voiced "serious objections," saying:

"A considerable number of the prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others, still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community."

At the time, prolonged isolation was used sparingly. Some prisons avoided it entirely. 

Today it's widespread. Affecting many thousands. Gross injustice and then some. At least 25,000 in supermax prisons. 

Tens of thousands more in restrictive segregation units. Cruel and unusual punishment by any standard. Violating constitutional protections. Meaningless inside prisons. Outside as well.

Humans are social beings. Requiring interaction with others. As part of every day life. Denying it is like starving lungs of air. Being buried alive. Entombed.

A previous article discussed Rasmea Odeh's politicized persecution. A Palestinian/American human rights champion.

A feminist, activist, educator and community leader. For over 40 years. For the past 11 in Chicago. Widely respected and loved. A living legend.

Victimized by Israel decades earlier. Incarcerated in its gulag. Though innocent of any crimes. Horrifically mistreated. Tortured and sexually abused.

On October 22, 2013, wrongfully arrested in Chicago. On behalf of Eastern District of Michigan federal prosecutors. The jurisdiction where she applied for citizenship.

Wrongfully charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Pertaining to allegedly lying on her 1994 immigration application.

Not mentioning her lawless Israeli arrest 45 years earlier. Her torture extracted confession. Despite having committed no crime. Occupied Palestinians have no rights whatever.

Arab/American persecution is longstanding. Post-9/11, Washington declared war on Islam.

Muslims are war on terror scapegoats. Vilified unjustly. For their ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. 

Rasmea one of many victims. On November 10, wrongfully convicted. Supporters denouncing a travesty of justice.

Unjustly punishing the best of Arab/American society. A role model for everyone to emulate.

Rasmea was remanded into custody. Denied bail during her appeal process. Mistreated horrifically in Port Huron, MI's St. Clair County Jail.

For nearly a month since her November conviction. The Electronic Intifada covered her trial. Wrote extensively on it.

Continues following her case. Says she's held in "total segregation." Isolated "for twenty-three and a half hours a day."

Denied visitations. Or interactions with other prisoners. Or commissary use.

Despite "suffering from back and dental pain." Making it hard to eat. Complicated by other health problems.

"(E)xacerbated by a lack of ability to care for herself with adequate exercise."

Her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, unaware of any reason for this type mistreatment. Cruel and unreasonable by any standard. Violating Rasmea's constitutional rights.

Deutsch suspects Washington involvement. Maybe the US Attorney's office or Homeland Security. Instigating extra harsh treatment. Maybe Israel demands it. Or AIPAC.

Because of Rasmea's longstanding activism for Palestinian rights. Doing the right thing because it matters.

Denying her bond was over-the-top and then some. Unreasonable by any standard. Her sentencing is scheduled for March 10. 

Keeping her incarcerated until then is punitive and then some. Cruel and unreasonable in isolation.

Her lawyers petitioned for her release. So she cana return home to Chicago. Until sentencing. According to the Electronic Intifada:

"The filing includes letters of support from community leaders refuting government claims that Odeh is a flight risk." 

"Some community members have offered to put up their homes, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, as a guarantee." 

"One of her attorneys, Jim Fennerty, has offered to host Odeh in his home until she is sentenced."

Deutsch sees government meddling. Washington's dirty hands ordering cruel and unreasonable punishment. 

Violating Rasmea's constitutional rights. Ones America repeatedly spurns. Ignoring what it's mandated to uphold. 

Police states operate this way. Extrajudicially. Ruthlessly. Viciously. Israel the same way. Human rights activists especially vulnerable.

Previous articles discussed dozens of its political prisoners. Activists deserving praise. Honor for their work. Languishing unjustly in Israel's gulag.

Horrifically mistreated. PA Department of Prisoner Affairs head Issa Qaraqe calls 2014 "the most difficult year" for Palestinian prisoners.

Victimized by "Israeli revenge policies." Re-arresting dozens released in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011.

Detaining 1,500 young children. Terrorizing them. Torturing them. Holding hundreds of others administratively uncharged and untried. Indefinitely.

Without elaborating, Qaraqe called 2015 the year of legal/humanitarian battling for prisoner rights.

An earlier Israeli Bar Association (IBA) report discussed harrowing conditions isolated prisoners endure.

Wings unfit for human habitation. Dungeon-like. Infested with insects. Rancid from sewer and mold odors. Violating the most basic human rights.

Israel's 1971 Prison Ordinance excludes prisoner rights. Interior ministers interpret rules by administrative decree.

Women and children are treated like men. Crimes against humanity are standard practice. Israeli viciousness matches America's.

Abdallah Abu Rahma is one of many victims. Wrongfully convicted earlier. For organizing and participating in demonstrations without a permit. Incitement. "Attempting to influence public opinion." 

Israeli military courts dispense unfairness. Addameer prisoner rights group lawyer Mahmoud Hassan explains, saying:

"The institution for justice in the West Bank - the military court - has no relationship with the people who are the subjects of this justice system." 

"The prosecutor belongs to the 'enemy' since s/he is a member of the army and police forces, and the police and army are instruments of the occupying power." 

"Even the judge is a commander in the very army which is violently enforcing the occupation." 

"The laws devised and enforced by the occupying army serve the interests only of the occupier."

"The freedom of the people of Palestine only becomes plausible when they themselves can decide how to administer their own lives and choose laws which will guide the life of their society."

Defendants are declared guilty by accusation. Abdallah was imprisoned for 16 months. Plus a six month suspended sentence. A 5,000 shekel fine.

On October 21, his rights again abused. Convicted of "disturbing a soldier." Interfering during a peaceful Nakba commemoration demonstration.

In solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners. Many hunger striking for justice. Abdallah's lawyer Gabi Lasky says:

"Demonstrating against the occupation cannot be a criminal offense. Finding Abdallah guilty only shows that the (Israeli) military force is a tool to perpetuate the occupation."

"Abdallah is a human rights defender and has the right to protest against the occupation." 

"There is no existing legal base that can justify his arrest. It seems that persecuting a Palestinian for a symbolic act of nonviolence against the occupation has more of a political meaning than a criminal one."

Abdallah is coordinator for Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall. A Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee platform member. 

Opposing occupation harshness. Settlements. Israeli human rights violations. 

Separation Wall land theft and ghettoization. He'll be sentenced on January 5.

On May 13, 2012, he blocked an Israeli bulldozer with his body. Risking death. How Rachel Corrie died in March 2003.

Murdered by an Israeli soldier. Operating an armored bulldozer. Trying to stop a Rafah refugee camp home's destruction.

Crushed to death deliberately. The soldier-operator running over her twice to be sure.

Abdallah is lucky to be alive. He tried preventing fence repair in Beitunia. Around a structure built to persecute Palestinians. Control and shoot them.

"They said I was in front of a bulldozer, that I did not let them continue working and for that reason the military court has declared me guilt," Abdallah explained.

Despite his conviction, he'll keep fighting for Palestinian rights.

"We have a right to protest and express our opinion," he says. "This is the way to defend human rights and refuse the occupation."

An international campaign was launched on his behalf. To provide all necessary support. Legally. Morally. Financially. 

Defend his legitimate right to protest peacefully. Affirmed by international law. 

Israel a longstanding violator. It bears repeating. Police states operate this way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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