Middle East Democracy vs. NGO-UN Mini-Durban Conference

Participants include HRW and NGOs funded by European governments and NIF

On March 7-8, 2011, the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine will be held in Vienna, under the banner of “The Urgency of Addressing the Plight of Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Prisons and Detention Facilities.”  The event, sponsored by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People 1 is another in the series of mini-Durban conferences, organized by the Committee several times each year.  These one-sided events demonize Israel, promote a “one state” policy, and seek the elimination of Jewish self-determination.  Previous meetings have included overtly antisemitic rhetoric.

This conference represents another example of continued UN-NGO collaboration in the obsessive and disproportionate focus on Israel, at the expense of confronting the real human rights abuses perpetrated by repressive and totalitarian regimes.  At a time when the people of Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Iran, Tunisia, Yemen, Gaza and elsewhere are demanding freedom and are rejecting regime attempts to blame all problems on Israel, the UN and the NGO network continue to perpetrate this diversion.

As in past committee “conferences,” officials from highly politicized NGOs will prominently feature, including Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, Al Haq, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, Addameer, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, HaMoked, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.  These NGOs receive substantial funding from European governments and/or the New Israel Fund.Scheduled speakers include:

  • Iyad Misk, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, Coordinator of the Legal Unit (funders include NDC [governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands], ICCO [Netherlands], Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Save the Children).
  • Niv Michaeli, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Intervention Coordinator, Prisoners and Detainees Project (New Israel Fund, EU, NDC, Diakonia (Sweden), Oxfam, Christian Aid, Ford Foundation).
  • Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq,2 General-Director (Ireland, Netherlands, OSI, NDC, Ford Foundation, Christian Aid, and Diakonia).
  • Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, HaMoked, Advocate, Legal Department (NIF, EU, UK, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, NDC, and Diakonia).
  • Sahar Francis, Addameer, Director, (NDC, Christian Aid).
  • Said Benarbia, International Commission of Jurists, Legal advisor, Middle East and North Africa Programme (Austria, Finland, Cyprus, Britain, Sweden, Ireland, France, Greece).
  • Bana Shoughry-Badarne, Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Director, Legal Department (EU, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Finland, UK, and NDC)
  • Shawqi Al Issa, Ensan Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Director.
  • Nasser Alryyes, Al-Haq, Legal Researcher.
  • Saleh Hijazi, Human Rights Watch, Researcher (OSI, Ford Foundation, Trocaire [Ireland], Oxfam Novib [Netherlands]).

Session titles at the March conference include:

  • “The current situation and conditions of imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention facilities”
  • “The issue of Palestinian political prisoners and the Israeli-Palestinian political process”
  •  “Arrests and detentions of Palestinians by the occupying Power.”
  •  “Legal aspects Available legal mechanisms to ensure compliance with international law and responsibility of Third Party.” (Lawfare)

There do not appear to be any sessions relating to torture and other maltreatment suffered by Palestinians in Palestinian Authority and Hamas jails, nor on the plight of Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier held incommunicado by Hamas for over 1,700 days, and denied access to the Red Cross, all in blatant violation of international law. Reinforcing the one-sided nature of this conference, no Israeli officials or counter-voices will be heard.