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BASW calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Munther Amira

BASW joins with Amnesty International in calling on the Israeli authorities to release Munther Amira, who has been sentenced to six months in prison after being arrested for peacefully protesting the detention of Ahed Tamimi and her mother, Nariman. Ahed Tamimi was 16 years old when she was arrested by the Israeli military late last year.

Mr. Amira was sentenced to six months in prison by Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank on Monday 12th March. 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.

After the verdict, Mr. Amira said to the judge, “It is my right to defend my people. I exercise this right in the territories of the Palestinian National Authority, and you are not responsible for me. I will not ask you to authorize me to express my point of view. I will not ask you for a permit."

Mr Amira is a former General Secretary of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists (PUSWP), and is considered by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience for his efforts in defending human rights.

On the occasion of his arrest he was defending the rights of Palestinian children arrested and held in Israeli military detention. BASW shares the concerns of the International Federation of Social Workers regarding the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli jails, and we again urge the Israeli government to respect the rights of all children living under its jurisdiction and call for an immediate end to the harsh and discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children.

Guy Shennan, BASW Chair, said “We join with Munther Amira in protesting the Israelis’ treatment of Palestinian children, and we deplore his arrest and subsequent imprisonment for exercising his democratic right to protest in a peaceful manner. Social workers are human rights defenders and we are proud to be members of the same profession as Munther Amira. I would ask social workers in the UK and elsewhere in the world to sign the online petition calling for Mr. Amira’s immediate release.

“We believe that our social work colleagues in the Israeli Union of Social Workers have a particular responsibility to use their influence with the Israeli authorities, to call for the release of Munther Amira, and also to intervene on behalf of Palestinian children. I will be writing to my opposite number in the Israeli Union, to ask if they will be taking these actions”.

Background information

Members of BASW visited Palestine in November 2011, when they met with members of PUSWP, which led to the formation of the Palestine-UK Social Work Network. During this visit they attended a juvenile session at the Ofer military court. Shortly after this, the Guardian published a special report about the plight of Palestinian children in Israeli jails, followed by this letter from the BASW members recently returned from their visit.

To find out more about the Palestine-UK Social Work Network, email them at palukswnetwork@gmail.com.