ELSC Newsletter: MayPublished on Fri Jun 04 2021
This month we once again witnessed the brutal bombardment of Gaza and violent commission of human rights abuses by Israeli authorities and settlers. In a global response, communities worldwide rose in solidarity calling for freedom and justice in Palestine. Yet, this call was not without struggle as this month we share with you all too common stories of censorship and repression of Palestinian rights activists. We also share the news of a win in an EU court, part of the effort to stop trade with illegal settlements, as well as an update on the BT3P campaign challenging the German Bundestag’s anti-BDS motion.
A MONTH OF ACTION AND SOLIDARITY
This month, millions came out across the globe to mobilize in solidarity with the Palestinian people against the most recent war crimes and human rights violations committed by the Israeli authorities. In all continents, people took to the streets to call for justice whilst online communities shared information, resources, and stories of Palestinians’ lived reality of Israeli occupation and apartheid.
In this history-making mobilization, activists faced increasing repression through censorship, smear campaigns and other restrictive actions at protests, schools and in online spaces. While Palestinians were sharing their experiences of Israeli violence in Sheikh Jarrah, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram removed and their censored posts. Protesters in France were fined and had marches cancelled before being attacked by police with water cannons and tear gas. School children in the UK were sanctioned for talking about Palestine, and the marches of solidarity in Germany were sweepingly smeared as antisemitic by officials and mainstream media. These are just a few of countless examples of repression faced by Palestinian rights activists this month.
If you know anyone who has faced repression for Palestinian rights advocacy whether at school, work, or during a protest in public space or online, make sure to fill out our incident report form. This information enables us to track how Palestinian advocacy is attacked and silenced, helping us to better defend activists in times of need and push back against shrinking civic space.
The entire team at the ELSC has been working tirelessly to ensure Palestinian rights activists are supported and defended in this time of mobilization. When needed, we work in partnership with local lawyers to bring cases before national courts. This spring, we are aiming to raise €5000 to make sure we are able to offer legal assistance to everyone at risk or affected by repression. Will you help us reach this goal with a one-time or monthly donation to our legal aid fund?
For more information on how to make your donation tax-deductible, please contact email@example.com.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION TOLD TO REVIEW INITIATIVE TO STOP TRADE WITH ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS
We were proud to announce earlier this month a ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU which gives a boost to efforts to stop European trade with illegal settlements.
After the EU Commission rejected a European Citizen Initiative (ECI) asking the Commission to adopt a measure to prevent European trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories, the seven citizens who started the initiative brought a case before the Court of Justice of the EU. The Court annulled the Commissions rejection of the ECI, ruling that the latter had infringed on the rights of the citizens when it refused to register their ECI without giving the necessary explanation of reasons. The Commission must now review the ECI again and issue a new, adequately reasoned decision in the coming months.
The ELSC assisted the seven citizens in the preparation of the Initiative in its initial stage and with legal research and analysis throughout the proceedings in Court. Help us hold the EU Commission accountable to its obligation to end trade with illegal settlements by sharing our message about this important win on social media.
Join the #StopSettlements Campaign
GERMAN BUNDESTAG REPLIES TO BT3P CAMPAIGNERS
This month, the German Bundestag replied to the complaint filed by the BT3P campaigners challenging the 2019 anti-BDS motion which infringes on the individual right to freedom of expression and defames human rights activists as antisemitic. International law firm Redeker Sellner Dahs, representing the Bundestag, requested that the complaint be dismissed claiming the resolution had no legal effect whatsoever and that the BT3P’s rights have not been infringed upon. The BT3P lawyer, Ahmed Abed, will now submit the response to the court in the coming weeks, after which, the court will make a decision on the initiation of a court hearing.
RESOURCES & NEWS FROM AROUND EUROPE
On May 17, the Lyon criminal court acquitted former French journalist and Palestinian rights activist Olivia Zemor after she was sued for calling for the boycott of Teva, an Israeli pharmaceutical company.
Zemor appeared in court in March facing charges of defamation and incitement to discrimination following an online appeal she made on the EuroPalestine website urging readers to boycott Teva for itsr complicity in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations. The court found that Zemor’s claims did neither amount to defamation nor discrimination and dismissed all charges against her.
This latest ruling follows the milestone Baldassi v. France judgement issued in June 2020 which affirmed that the right to boycott falls within the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Although France is bound by the Baldassi ruling, the Ministry of Justice published in October 2020 a new circular that is still criminalizing the BDS movement and alleging its illegality under French law.
This latest judgement from the Criminal Court of Lyon represents a step towards the respect for an individual’s right to freedom of expression and right to boycott in France despite restrictive policies still being in force.