The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Munther Amira, a Palestinian social worker who was arrested by the Israeli military in the occupied Palestinian territories on the 27th December, while peacefully protesting to defend the rights of children detained by the Israeli military forces.
Mr Amira has previously served as the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers & Psychologists (PUSWP), and is a highly-esteemed and respected colleague well-known to a number of BASW members.
In protesting about the arrest and military detention of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi and other Palestinian children, Mr Amira was acting in accordance with social work principles.
Social workers and other citizens have the right to protest in a peaceful and non-violent way and Mr Amira should not have been arrested for exercising this basic democratic right.
In addition to exercising his human rights, Mr Amira was also meeting his duty as a social worker to defend the human rights of others, as set out in IFSW’s Statement of Ethical Principles and in the national codes of ethics of its member associations.
BASW fully supports the statement made by the Human Rights Commissioner of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) on 7th January concerning Mr Amira’s arrest and calling for his release.
Rights of the Child
BASW shares the concern of Mr Amira and IFSW over the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli jails. We join with the IFSW in urging the Israeli government to respect the rights of all children living under its jurisdiction and in calling for an immediate end to the harsh and discriminatory treatment afforded Palestinian minors including the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli jails.
We call on the Israeli government to ensure that Palestinian children always receive age-appropriate special treatment by the authorities and are not treated as adults as required under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Human rights and social justice
BASW also joins with the IFSW in calling upon the Israeli Union of Social Workers to acknowledge the occupation and its consequences and to act as advocates for the end of the occupation.
This is in accordance with the Global Definition of Social Work which defines social work as a profession for human rights and social justice. We note the Israeli Union’s comments on the arrest of Munther Amira, published by IFSW at the end of their statement, and their lack of support for Mr Amira and for the IFSW’s position.
We urge the Israeli Union to reconsider their position, and to join with their international social work colleagues in defending the human rights of Palestinian children and in calling for Mr Amira’s release.
We understand that the Israeli military court extended Mr Amira’s detention on 4th January until Tuesday 9th January, after the military prosecution halted the court’s decision to release him. A member of Mr Amira’s defense committee has noted that the Israeli military prosecution is preparing a list of further indictments against him.
BASW supports Mr Amira’s commitment to upholding the ethical principles of our profession and we demand his immediate release.
As requested by the IFSW Human Rights Commission, BASW will be writing to the Israeli embassy in London requesting Mr Amira’s release.
We will also be writing to the Foreign Secretary, asking him to intervene on Mr Amira’s behalf. We encourage our members to write to their MPs to ask them to use their influence on behalf of Mr Amira, and also to defend the rights of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. They can do this by supporting Early Day Motion 563 and calling for a Parliamentary debate.
We also call for all people to sign the online petition.
Click here to view a video taken of Munther Amira, together with his social work colleague Raed Amira and counsellor Hekmat Alqawsmeh; when Munther was General Secretary of the social workers association in 2012.