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Lee speaks about Ahed Tamimi and Palestinian Child Prisoners

Speeches in Parliament
Lee Rhiannon 7 Feb 2018

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (20:13): Ahed Tamimi was arrested by the Israeli army in mid-December, along with her mother and cousin. She has since been denied bail and presented with a list of cobbled-together charges. She is now in jail. Ahed is a courageous young Palestinian woman. She's been subject to and witnessed oppression and violence from the Israeli army. Ahed's lawyer has said that she has faced long and aggressive interrogation sessions, sometimes into the night. Ahed's interrogators have also made threats against members of her family.

Magdalena Mughrabi, who works for Amnesty International, has said:

… the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate …

Ahed Tamimi's ensuing arrest and military trial exposes the Israeli authorities' discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children who dare to stand up to ongoing, often brutal, repression by occupying forces.

In 2009, Ahed's village of Nabi Saleh began weekly protests against the occupation and especially against the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, which was stealing more land from Ahed's village and blocking access to the village water spring. Well before her arrest, at the age of 16, Ahed Tamimi had developed a strong understanding of political struggle and activism.

These are her words: 'We should extend our struggles to one another in order to end all the world's injustices.' It is widely recognised that Ahed, her family and her village have been targeted because they directly challenged the Israeli government's claim to be democratic, progressive and moral. Ahed's story is not just about one child. It is not even about one generation. Ahed's story has been echoed thousands of times over many past decades because of the violent and repressive actions of the occupying regime.

There are currently some 350 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, and children as young as eight have been arrested by the Israeli military. Since the year 2000, Defence for Children International has reported that at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in Israeli military courts. Over 70 per cent of Palestinian children who go before Israeli military courts are denied bail. There is an almost 100 per cent conviction rate. Israel is the only country in the world that prosecutes children in military courts, denying them fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Palestinian children are often subject to ill treatment, including blindfolding and harsh interrogations without the presence of a lawyer or family member. They're often subject to solitary confinement and, in some cases, physical violence while they're held in prison.

Israel is a party to the Convention for the Rights of the Child; although it's hard to believe it when you hear the figures about being children held in jail. Under the convention, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must only be used as a last resort and for the shortest period of time. However, this is another example of how the Israeli authorities flout their obligations under international law. Palestinian children are paying the price with their childhood. On this issue, the Australian government remains silent. We should all raise our voices to free Ahed and all children jailed in Palestine.


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