art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Hunger strike by human rights defender Shireen Essawi as trial postponed by one year

Author: Front Line Defenders

On 8 May 2014 human rights defender and lawyer Shireen Essawi began a hunger strike after learning of the postponement of her trial for nine months and a day. She is charged with cooperating with actors who are working against the state of Israel.

Shireen Essawi is a human rights lawyer who has participated in monitoring and documenting human rights violations committed against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, especially children, women, and prisoners from the Gaza Strip. The human rights defender also reported on practices adopted by Israeli authorities for Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails that she believes violate human rights, such as preventing visits by lawyers.

The postponement of her trial on 7 May 2014 follows several court appearances by the human rights defender since her arrest on 6 March 2014. It is reported that under Israeli law, a trial may be suspended and detention can continue upon the condition that a final judgment and sentence is issued within nine months and a day of the adjournment.

Shireen Essawi began her hunger strike out of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and has declared she will continue it in protest at the adjournment of her trial. The human rights defender was arrested at her home in Jerusalem as part of a wave of arrests targeting lawyers. Her colleagues have since been released on bail, pending trials.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the postponement of the trial and continued detention of Shireen Essawi, which is solely related to her peaceful and legitimate human rights work, in particular concerning the rights of Palestinians and Arab Israelis.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Israel to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against and release Shireen Essawi, as it is believed they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Shireen Essawi, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment,’ adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

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