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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Human rights orgs" double-down on Tamimi

I noted last week that the EU and Amnesty International regard Bassem Tamimi as a "prisoner of conscience" and a "human rights defender" even though he was convicted of encouraging kids to throw stones at Israeli soldiers.

I mentioned that an Amnesty official visited the Tamimi family and reported, without a shred of verification, that the family's "curtains [are] burned from tear gas shot by the Israeli army into the house."

I emailed the IDF, asking if IDF allows firing tear gas into houses. The answer I received was "IDF regulations do not allow for the firing of tear gas into a house. Tear gas is used only for riot dispersal."

A reader sent my blog comments to both the EU and Amnesty's office in Amsterdam.

Amnesty's reply is priceless, as it defends itself without any evidence besides its own sterling record:

Dear Mr. XXXX.

Amnesty International regards mister Bassam Tamimi as a prisoner of conscience, who is imprisoned solely because of his role in organizing peaceful protests against the encroachement on Palestinian lands by Israeli colonists.

Therefore, in our view, he should be released immediately and unconditionally.

The underpinning of our work is solid and reliable information.

We attach much value to the checking and double-checking of all information we receive.

Hence, Amnesty reaches the above conclusions after extensive investigation of this case.

Amnesty’s strenghth is reliability.

Amnesty only acts after very thorough investigation.

At Amnesty's headquarter in London, information on human rights abuses from around the world is collected and analyzed.

Amnesty also sends research teams to investigate the human rights situation on location. During such missions Amnesty talks to victims, lawyers, local human rights activists, the government and is present at court cases.

The research is done by a team of experts, supported by specialists in different areas like international justice, media and technology.

Only when our researchers are convinced about a case will Amnesty take action. This approach guarantees that our organisation is always capable of exposing human rights abuses without error.

Through this methodology our organisation is always capable of exposing human rights abuses in a reliable way.

With kind regards,


Wim Roelofsen,
Publieksvoorlichting
Twelve paragraphs of "proof by assertion." The vignette on the Amnesty site proves every one of these assertions wrong, as Amnesty did not follow up about the "tear gas" claim and reports it as fact.

As far as Tamimi goes, the EU did not respond to my reader's query. But HRW has now added itself to the gang of people who claim, falsely, that the conviction of Tamimi was based on the testimony of a child:

An Israeli military court’s conviction on May 20, 2012, of a Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi, of leading illegal demonstrations violates his right to freedom of assembly, while its conviction of him on a second charge of urging children to throw stones on the basis of a child’s coercively-obtained statement raises serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, Human Rights Watch said today. The court sentenced Tamimi on May 29 to 13 months in prison, which he has already served, as well as a 17-month suspended sentence.

“The Israeli military authorities seem to have known it would be hard to justify convicting an activist for only leading peaceful protests, so they apparently used oppressive methods to produce evidence that he also encouraged children to throw stones,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

[Tamimi] was further convicted of soliciting children and youths to throw stones on the basis of evidence that, the court said, rested to a decisive degree on a statement obtained by police interrogators from a 15-year-old Palestinian boy whom soldiers had arrested at gunpoint late at night. They questioned the boy for more than four hours the following morning, after he had not slept, without letting him have a parent or lawyer present. In that statement, the boy said that Tamimi had encouraged youths to throw stones, but in court the boy retracted his statement and said the police had instructed him to incriminate Tamimi.
As I noted last week, the judge specifically ignored most the testimony of a minor and a young adult because she did not believe their testimony and because of inconsistencies - yet HRW is saying that the conviction was based primarily on this evidence.

Reading further, Amnesty admits that the judge noted that the 14-year old's testimony (of a relative of Tamimi's) was not coerced based on the fact that he was laughing during the interrogation and that police asked him if he wanted to sleep and he declined. Amnesty also admits that the judge noted there was corroborating evidence that Tamimi was directing children to throw stones, as he was gesturing from a roof towards soldiers while on a cell phone. So even though the court proceedings were completely transparent, including the videotaping of the interrogations and the reasoning behind the conviction, Amnesty and the EU are flatly stating that the judge is acting politically and not according to legal standards.

HRW also admits that there is regularly stone throwing at these weekly demonstrations. Yet Tamimi is a "peace activist."