Israeli soldier pointing his gun at journalists’ heads. (File photo/Reuters)
288 US-based social justice, civil rights, and human rights leaders and organizations have demanded the Biden administration to immediately and unequivocally condemn the Israeli government’s recent decision to criminalize six Palestinian human rights organizations.
“Smearing the promotion and defense of human rights as "terrorist" activity is a dangerous, well-worn tactic of authoritarian regimes and a shameful political maneuver to undermine the vital work of these organizations”, said the 288 signatories in a joint letter sent to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“These actions by the Israeli government are a clear attack on human rights. As such, we urge you to issue a swift rejection of this unprecedented attack on Palestinian human rights organizations and the attempt by the Israeli government to shut down, delegitimize, isolate, and chill a growing human rights movement,” the letter read.
“As groups committed to social justice, civil rights, and universal human rights, we have seen firsthand the ways that the charge of “terrorist” and the so-called “war on terror” threatens not only international human rights defenders, but also social movements and marginalized communities here in the US: Indigenous, Black, brown, Muslim, and Arab activists and communities have similarly faced silencing, intimidation, criminalization and surveillance under such baseless charges”, the letter added.
The signatories warned that the threat against the Palestinian human rights movement “is a threat against movements for social justice everywhere, and in order to protect human rights and human rights defenders, all states must be held accountable for taking such manifestly unjust actions.”
“We agree with 17 UN Special Rapporteurs that the freedoms of association and expression must be fully respected in order to enable civil society to perform its indispensable work, and cannot be undermined by the manifestly egregious misuse of counterterrorism and security legislation”, said the signatories.
The letter urged the US Secretary of State to affirm that the US administration’s commitment to human rights has universal applicability, issue a public statement that rejects the Israeli government’s false accusations against Palestinian civil society organizations, publicly rebuke Israel for this authoritarian action, and call on Israel to immediately end all efforts to criminalize Palestinian human rights defenders.