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Friday, February 17, 2012

A few weasel words from EU as Adnan nears death

As Khader Adnan begins the 62nd day of his hunger strike, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton might finally say something about his suffering.

Two days after I contacted Ashton’s office requesting an urgent comment, I was told this morning that “there is actually a statement in the making.”

I wasn’t told when the statement will be issued but Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Ashton, did make the following remarks: “The EU requests the government of Israel to do all it can to preserve the health of Mr Adnan and handle this case while abiding by all legal obligations under international law.

“The EU reiterates its longstanding concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge. Such a procedure should be used only in exceptional circumstances, and without prejudice to the rights of detainees under international and national laws, in particular their right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and their right to a fair trial.”

Well, isn’t that a pathetic response? Unlike the Carter Center (founded by former US president Jimmy Carter) and Amnesty International, Ashton’s team is not calling for Adnan to be immediately released or charged, merely asking Israel to “do all it can” to preserve his health. And Ashton accepts that administrative detention may be used under certain unspecified circumstances, even though it abuses the right of prisoners to know why they are in custody and to a fair and prompt trial.

Resembling Blair

Ashton’s stance resembles that of her mentor Tony Blair. As Britain’s prime minister in 2003, Blair secretly recommended that members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be interned without trial. Blair’s advice originally came from MI6, the UK intelligence service.

This indicates that Britain’s political elite continues to have an imperial mindset. Internment without trial was not only a monstrous injustice when it was imposedin the North of Ireland during the 1970s, it needlessly stoked the flames of conflict there.

Internment without trial is a synonym for administrative detention.

●First published by The Electronic Intifada, 17 February 2012.

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