Reinstate Bassem Tamimi's Visa!
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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.
The Australian government granted Tamimi a visa to travel to Australia on April 4th. Tamimi’s visa was revoked on April 5th on the grounds that: ‘there is a risk that members of the public will react adversely to your (Tamimi’s) presence in Australia regarding your views of the ongoing political tensions in the Middle East’.
Denying entry to an individual on the basis of their political views is a violation of freedom of speech. Further, this decision implies Palestinians are unable to enter Australia unless they renounce their political commitment to self-determination and sovereignty - a claim that is supported by the United Nations.
This decision is a blatant case of discrimination. Benjamin Netanyahu was recently invited to Australia to speak to the Prime Minister. Many of Netanyahu’s policies, including the continued expansion of the West Bank settlements, have been denounced by the UN Security Council. Netanyahu’s visit provoked sizeable protests in cities across Australia reflecting a clear ‘adverse public reaction’. That Netanyahu was not only granted entry, but invited to address the Prime Minister, indicates that the government is more concerned with silencing pro-Palestinian voices than avoiding politically controversial views.
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”.
We call on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to immediately grant Bassem Tamimi a visa.
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