Grant Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Tamimi an entry visa to Australia
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To Peter Dutton, Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection;
We, the undersigned, call on the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection to immediately grant Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Tamimi a visa to enter Australia.
Tamimi is one of the most prominent activists from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, which has been the site of regular non violent protest against the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by the Israeli state. For this activism, Tamimi has been described as a “human rights defender” by Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union. He also been recognised by Amnesty International as a human rights defender and Prisoner of Conscience.
Tamimi has been invited to participate in a speaking tour of Australia by the Palestinian Action Group (Sydney), Friends of Palestine (Perth) and The Social Research Institute (Melbourne) in April 2017.
Tamimi is committed to non-violent action. In an Ofer Military Court statement on 16 November 2011, after arrest for his role in organising unarmed demonstrations against the occupation, he said:
“International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organised peaceful popular demonstrations against the occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village.”
Human Rights Watch and other organisations have documented the Israeli military’s excessive use of force against protesters in the Occupied West Bank. Despite provocations, Tamimi has encouraged non-violent civil disobedience in the tradition of Martin Luther King.
Tamimi has been unjustly persecuted by the Israeli state for his participation in protests against Israeli incursions. He has been targeted and arrested by authorities more than a dozen times; at one point he spent more than three years in administrative detention without trial.
He has also been tortured. Amnesty International documented this torture by the General Security Service, Israel's domestic intelligence agency. After his arrest on 9 November 1993, he was subjected to violent shaking during interrogation and suffered a subdural haematoma. He lost consciousness for six days, during which time he underwent life-saving surgery. In 2011, Amnesty designated him a “prisoner of conscience”.
In these circumstances, we strongly object to the Australian embassy’s request that Tamimi apply to the Israeli police for approval before his visa is granted. The Israeli state is recognised by the United Nations as an occupying force in the Palestinian Territories. Tamimi has a passport from the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli should have no part in deciding who can or cannot travel from the West Bank. The fact that Tamimi is a political activist who regularly speaks out against Israeli policy in the West Bank and has been subsequently targeted for such activity makes the request even more objectionable.
Tamimi has endeavoured to meet all the visa requirements. He submitted his Australian visa application in a timely manner and has since met the request of the Australian government for additional documentation by submitting an application to the Israeli police for approval. They have not, thus far, approved his application and the Australian government continues to deny him entry.
We call on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to immediately grant Bassem Tamimi a visa.
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