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Jailed Palestinian officers to continue hunger strike

By Nasouh Nazzal




Inmates warn that families will act alone to secure their release

December 25, 2013


Ramallah: Two Palestinian security officers sentenced by a special military court in Nablus to 10 years imprisonment each on charges of terrorism are continuing their hunger strike, maintaining that they will not break it until they are returned to their homes in Jenin Refugee Camp.

A Palestinian special military court in Nablus earlier sentenced the two to 10 years imprisonment each on charges of terrorism, dropped their official ranks and sacked both officers from service.

The Military Court in Nablus dropped all the original charges against the defendants but gave both of them a prison term on a charge of terrorism.

This unexpected charge and conviction surprised the defendants, Major Mohammad Ebrahim Amer and First Lieutenant Faris Mahmoud Hussain Ammar, both Palestinian National Guards officers who decided to go on a hunger strike in their cell in Al Juanid Prison in Nablus on December 19.

The men are threatening that on the tenth day of their strike they will toughen their protest by also refusing to be rehydrated.

Sources in Jenin told Gulf News that both defendants were accused of passing weapons to those who had fired bullets on the house of Qadourah Mousa, Jenin’s former governor, a charge which the defendants’ families have categorically rejected.

Muntaser Amer, a brother to Major Amer, said that the court verdict has been extremely unfair to his brother.

Heart attack

"According to the forensic and post mortem reports on the former governor, the man died of a heart attack. If that is so, how could Mohammad possibly be charged and tried for such accusations," he told Gulf News.

"This is an unfair verdict which we will take to the Palestinian Higher Court of Justice for an appeal," he said. "We will not keep our mouths shut about such an unfair court verdict."

Muntaser said that his brother Major Amer has spent 16 years behind Israeli bars and has been an ideal National Guards officer.

"Terrorism is a fabricated accusation — after all, the other charges were dropped because the authorities failed to prove any of the claims against him," he said.

He added that one of the other charges against Major Amer was an accusation of putting pressure on the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) for reform and claimed that the charge hints at the reason his brother is behind bars.

Members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and other senior officials have visited the two officers to discuss the dispute with them and a meeting is to be organised so senior officials and members of both prisoners’ families can meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the situation.

"The court verdict issued against us was not a legal sentence but a political one. The verdict passed on both of us was ordered by the Palestinian security apparatus, not by the Palestinian judicial system," said Faris Ammar in a telephone interview with Gulf News from his cell in Al Junaid Prison in Nablus.

"The accusation of terrorism is a fabricated charge which was used to put us behind bars for 10 years," he said.

Scapegoat

"If we were left with no other options, our families and friends in Jenin will act on their own to secure our release. We are sure about this fact and it has been only us holding them from acting," he stressed.

"We will never accept being the scapegoat for the entire Jenin Refugee Camp," he said referring to the failure of the Palestinian security apparatus to arrest those who fired bullets on the house of the former Jenin governor.

"We will give the efforts being made a chance, but our unfair stay behind Palestinian bars should be avenged," he warned.

Major Ammer said that the hunger strike is meant to expose the behaviour of the Palestinian security apparatus in the West Bank.

"The Palestinian security apparatus hates the word 'refugee camp’ and mainly the Jenin Refugee Camp. This is a fact which we all should face and handle," he told Gulf News from his prison cell.

"We have officially been told that the 10 year imprisonment was recommended and passed by the Palestinian security apparatus, spelled by what has been labeled as a special military court," he said.

"The imprisonment is meant only to humiliate officers from the Jenin Refugee Camp and humiliate the entire camp, and that will never be accepted," he said.

"There can never be calm and order in Jenin Refugee Camp while such acts of the Palestinian security apparatus exist," he said.

"Now we have reached the point of either death in a Palestinian prison or unconditional return home. Let the Palestinian security apparatus choose one," he said.



Source





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