Letter to Secretary Blinken from US Orgs & Leaders in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society (initial letter is public; late signers can be added)
On Friday Oct. 22, Israel declared the work of 6 leading Palestinian human rights & civil society organizations to be “terrorism,” threatening to shut them down and to indefinitely incarcerate their staff under Israel's draconian "Counter-Terrorism Law". This is an urgent moment for U.S. social justice movements to show solidarity with Palestinians on the ground. Please sign the letter below and share widely in your networks (but please not on social media).

Update Oct. 29: The initial letter is out: https://ccrjustice.org/letter-secretary-blinken-us-orgs-leaders-solidarity-palestinian-civil-society However, we can add late signers and are glad to grow this powerful show of collective defense for human rights. Please sign and we'll update you next week!


Dear Secretary Blinken:

The undersigned U.S.-based social justice, civil rights, and human rights leaders and organizations write to demand that you immediately and unequivocally condemn the Israeli government’s recent decision to outlaw and criminalize six Palestinian human rights and community-based organizations.

The Palestinian organizations currently targeted under the Israeli government’s draconian 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, justice and accountability for international crimes. They are: Defense for Children International - Palestine, Al Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. They are trusted partners in our collective work to secure human rights for all.

The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed a commitment to center and promote human rights worldwide and protect the role of civil society. 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 orgnizations and the attempt by the Israeli government to shut down, delegitimize, isolate, and chill a growing human rights movement. 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.”

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. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called the move “appalling and unjust” and “an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations” and linked Israel’s emboldened authoritarian actions to decades of inadequate responses by the international community to Israel’s ongoing grave human rights abuses. This should change.

As groups committed to social justice, civil rights, and universal human rights, we have seen first hand 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 U.S.: Indigenous, Black, brown, Muslim, and Arab activists and communities have similarly faced silencing, intimidation, criminalization and surveillance under such baseless charges. A 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. While our government has long offered unconditional support to the Israeli government, our movements and organizations will always stand first and foremost with the rights and safety of people.

Therefore, we the undersigned organizations and individuals, call on you as Secretary of State, to:

1. Affirm that the Biden administration’s commitment to human rights has universal applicability;

2. Issue a public statement that rejects the Israeli government’s false accusations levied against Palestinian civil society organizations;

3. Publicly condemn and rebuke Israel for this authoritarian action, and call on Israeli authorities to immediately reverse their decision and end all efforts aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders;

4. Support Palestinians seeking the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights, justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court.


Sincerely,

(See full text with citations here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17ao460hOd1tjjM-_dS3YhPORn7DDqnUWwJKp8ZwJKkI/edit)
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