Free Imad Barghouthi, Palestinian astrophysicist detained by Israeli occupation

Free Imad Barghouthi, Palestinian astrophysicist detained by Israeli occupation

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On Thursday, July 16th 2020, renowned Palestinian scientist Prof. Imad Barghouthi was seized by Israeli military forces during a routine stop at a military checkpoint outside of Anata. He was held for two weeks before being charged as a Palestinian civilian in Israeli military courts for “incitement,” for posting on Facebook. As Scientists for Palestine noted, “after thousands of scholars worldwide demanded Prof. Barghouthi to be freed from prison, his lawyer successfully argued for his release on bail which was granted by the judge on his case on September 2nd.”

Instead of allowing Barghouthi to be released on bail, Israeli occupation forces imposed an unlawful administrative detention order (an illegal measure commonly used by the Israeli military forces to put Palestinians in arbitrary detention without any charges or trials) against him until 15 November, forcing him to remain jailed – despite the fact that he is still facing dubious charges in the military courts. Israeli military courts convict over 99% of the Palestinians brought before them.

This is not the first time that the Israeli military forces have arrested professor Barghouti, one of Palestine’s most prominent scientists, an astrophysicist at the university of Al-Quds in East Jerusalem, and a former NASA employee (who earned his Ph.D. at Utah State University). In 2014 he was placed under administrative detention for two months, and in 2016 he was again detained for six months. In both cases his arrest triggered a significant indignation of the international Scientific community.

Read Prof. Imad Barghouthi’s Letter from Prison:


Ofer Israeli prison camp,
Saturday September 12th, 2020

On my current administrative detention

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing this letter as I await the Israeli military occupation court to review the Israeli military commander’s decision to put me under administrative detention for four months. This order overruled a court decision to release me on bail, while I await yet another trial for exercising my internationally protected right of expressing my opinion on my social media. And my next appearance before the military judge/court will be a closed session, showing that even Israeli authorities are ashamed of these proceedings.

For those of you who don’t know about administrative detention, it has been a central practice of the Israeli occupation since the early days of the British mandate, over seventy years ago; administrative detention allows for a military commander to order your arrest based on secret reports and without trial. The administrative detention can last up to six months, but can be renewed indefinitely.* This practice systematically abuses Palestinian human rights and is designed to subjugate the Palestinian people and deny their freedom.

In the israeli military courts it doesn’t matter that I’m a professor of space physics, (e.g. https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=Uevcf_gAAAAJ&hl= nor it matters that I’m 50 years old, father of five and grandfather of one lovely boy, nor that no Israeli professor would ever be convicted for expressing her/his public opinion on facebook! The only thing that matters in front of their courts is that I’m a Palestinian and I’m thus labeled, dehumanized, and stripped of my basic human rights. And with no fear by the israeli military apparatus of real persecution for what they are doing to me.

Dear colleagues, I ask you to take a few minutes of your time to act in support of Palestinians and against the illegal procedure of administrative detention with a post demanding the abolition of this practice, or a discussion with your students and colleagues on the fact that in today’s 21st century world, Palestinians professors are being held without trial.

I know justice will never be served as long as Palestinians remain under occupation, but I take courage and inspiration from the words of Desmond Tutu, “in a situation of injustice, if you remain neutral then you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

With respect,
Prof. Imad Ahmad Barghouthi
Department of physics, AQU
Occupied Palestine
Currently in the Ofer Israeli prison camp.

Scientists for Palestine condemns the continuous and arbitrary harassment of Professor Barghouthi in the strongest possible terms and calls on all members of the International Scientific community to demand the immediate release of our colleague. The right to science is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 27), as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 15). The violation of the right to science anywhere is an attack to scientists everywhere.

* : there are cases of Palestinians who spent over 5 years in a continuous administrative detention and some who have experienced over 20 years of on and off of administrative detention in the israeli military occupation prisons.

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