Stuff Worth Reading

Posted on June 22, 2011


Calling solitary confinement what it is, from SolitaryWatch, in an interview highlighting the upcoming hunger strike at Pelican Bay prison:

There’s no doubt that solitary confinement, as it’s practiced in the United States at Pelican Bay and elsewhere, stands in violation of international human rights standards, including the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the UN’s  Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners. Recently, the European Court of Human Rights delayed the extradition to the United States of several British terrorism suspects, because of the possibility that they would be sentenced to life in a supermax prison, which was deemed to violate the European Convention on Human Rights.


Israel’s Naked Religious Chauvinism on Display in its Highest Court, from Noam Sheizaf’s blog:

Last February, seven Muslim women from Gaza have filed a petition [Hebrew, PDF] to the Beer-Sheva court, demanding to be granted the same rights as the Christians pilgrims. They agreed to go through the same security procedures, or whatever other means the authorities would find necessary. All they asked is to be allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Gisha, an NGO which deals with freedom of movement, joined their appeal to court.

Recently, the court rejected [Hebrew, PDF] the petition and ordered the petitioners to pay legal fees in the unprecedented amount of 25,000 NIS (approx. 7,250 USD). Justice Eliyahu Bitan, who sat on the case, even made disdainful remarks toward Gisha, referring to it as a “human rights” organization (quotation marks in the original).

The court declared that even if Israel continued to control Gaza strip, it had no obligation to allow any Palestinians from the Occupied Territories to pray in Jerusalem.

This verdict demonstrated again how unwelcoming Israeli courts are to Palestinians. Equality in government practice has long been recognized as a guiding principal by the Supreme Court, but when it comes to Palestinians, the court allows policies which are based on ethnicity and religious affiliation. The decision also showed the hollowness of Israel’s pretension to be the protector of the holy sites in Jerusalem. The call for an international regime in the holy sites has never been more justified.

After the Initial Jubilation, Reality Sets In. Thousands of Palestinians Still Unable to Cross the Egypt-Gaza Border at Rafah:

The reopening of Gaza’s main border crossing with Egypt brought widespread relief to Palestinians suffering from a four-year blockade.

But one month later, some 20,000 people are on a waiting list and despair is growing in this crowded territory.Residents still must apply for travel permits, and the first available dates to cross are in late August.

Frustrated travelers gather at the crossing each day, clutching medical reports, foreign residency permits and university registration documents in hopes of persuading the authorities to let them through.

And after a brief period of goodwill, many are openly asking whether Egypt’s new government is genuinely committed to improving relations with the Palestinians.

“It seems nothing has changed and we are still locked in this big jail,” said Ghassan al-Jaabri, a 35-year-old man who originally had been scheduled to visit his in-laws in Ukraine on June 11.