PSCC activist, Munther Amira arrested in Bethlehem on Wednesday, 27 December 2017

 Amnesty  urges action for Palestinian “prisoner of conscience” Munther Amira 

PNN/ Bethlehem/

Amnesty international in a public document urged the Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Munther Amira “as he is a prisoner of conscience and is solely being held for exercising his human rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly.”

The organization called on the Israeli authorities to immediately drop all charges against Amira and  rescind Military Order 101 and fully respect the right of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Amira is facing trial before an Israeli military court for peacefully participating in protest . He is facing a prison sentence for exercising his right to freedom of expression and of assembly. His trial is due to start on 21 February.

He was arrested by Israeli soldiers on 27 December 2017 while peacefully participating in a protest. The protest was organized by Palestinian residents and activists in the city of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, and called for the release of activists Ahed and Nariman Tamimi. On 16 January, the Israeli Military Court in Ofer military in the occupied West Bank ordered Munther Amira’s release on bail. However, his release was delayed for 72 hours in order to allow the prosecution to appeal the decision. On 18 January, the military prosecution filed an appeal against the decision to release Munther Amira. On 1 February a military judge at the Military Court of Appeals accepted the prosecution’s appeal to keep Munther Amira in custody until the end of his trial.

On the day of his arrest, the military court presented Munther Amira with 13 charges relating to his participation in five separate demonstrations. Some of the charges he is facing under Israeli Military Order 101, such as “participating in a march without a permit”, are not recognizable criminal offences under international standards Munther Amira was additionally charged with throwing objects towards people or property and throwing stones at Israeli Border Police officers. The two charges relate to a protest, which took place on 22 December 2017, against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They are based on testimonies of two Israeli Border Police officers who describe seeing Munther Amira throwing back a teargas projectile, which had been fired at demonstrators by Israeli forces.

However, video footage as well as witnesses who attended the protest, rebut the claim and state that Munther Amira was peacefully holding a placard in front of Israeli soldiers, which he then used to try to push the tear gas canister away from himself. An examination of the charge sheet, witnesses’ testimonies and the prosecution’s supporting evidence indicate that Munther Amira is being detained and prosecuted solely for peacefully protesting the Israeli occupation.