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Director of Ittijah Ameer Makhoul Arrested by the Israeli Authorities

Director of Ittijah Ameer Makhoul Arrested by the Israeli Authorities

Press Release May 6, 2010 This morning, May 6, 2010 at 6 am the Israeli General Security Service (GSS or the "Shabak") accompanied by Israeli police raided the home of Ameer Makhoul in Haifa with a warrant for his arrest. Mr. Makhoul is a political activist and serves as the General Director of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and Chairman of the Public Committee for the Protection of Political Freedoms in the framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel. The police conducted an extensive search of the house and confiscated items including cell phones and computers. According to his wife, Janan, the security forces refused to identify themselves and only following her insistence showed her the arrest warrant, which stated that the arrest was for 'security reasons'. Meanwhile, another police group raided the Ittijah offices and confiscated the computers and other important materials. A hearing of the case will take place today at 11:30am at the Petah Tikva Court. Ameer Makhoul will be represented by Advocate Hussein Abu Hussein, who is a member of the Board of the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) and the Chairperson of Ittijah. The arrest comes following an administrative order issued on April 22 by the Israeli Interior Minister, prohibiting Makhoul from leaving the country for a period of two months. In the prohibition order itself, which is based on article 6 of the 1948 emergency regulations, the Israeli Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, stated that "I have reached the conviction that the exit of Ameer Makhoul from the country poses a serious threat to the security of the state, and therefore I issue this order to prevent him from leaving the country until the 21st of June, 2010". The Arab Association for Human Rights, while confirming its rejection and strong condemnation of these actions, believes that it is part of an escalated campaign to restrict civil society organizations and public action, in an attempt to crush the popular movement to defend the rights and existence of the Palestinian people. The HRA regards this as a flagrant violation of fundamental freedoms, especially the freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Furthermore, the arrest warrant and prohibition order, which are based on emergency regulations, are arbitrary political decisions issued by the Interior Minister and are not legal decisions issued by the courts. These decisions lack the most basic human rights standards and due process of law, particularly as they are based on 'secret' evidence and the defense is prevented from viewing this evidence. These actions are also a flagrant violation of the UN Declaration and the EU guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. We call for the immediate release of Ameer Makhoul and we urge all local and international civil and human rights organizations to take a clear position on this issue, and work for firm and immediate measures to protect activists' and human rights defenders' rights and ensure their freedom of movement and expression in order to promote and protect human rights.