UN Watch: GENEVA, October 30, 2020 — After UN Watch campaigned relentlessly over the last six months to protest the cruel imprisonment of Gaza peace activist Rami Aman, he has finally been released. Aman had been jailed by Hamas since April 9th for organizing a Zoom video call between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. UN Watch thanks everyone across the globe who worked tirelessly for his release and joined our campaign. UN Watch’s work to release Rami Aman included the following seven actions.
1. Led 70 NGOs in Filing Legal Complaint to UN
Using its contacts, UN Watch managed to gather a coalition totaling 70 UN-accredited non-governmental organizations to file a joint legal complaint to a UN expert panel, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, demanding Rami Aman’s release. Groups from Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ghana, India, Japan, Nigeria, Morocco, Switzerland, and the US joined the appeal. “Our complaint seeks to hold Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which claims jurisdiction in Gaza, accountable for the wrongful imprisonment of Mr. Aman, a violation of international law and of his universal human rights.” See the full list of NGOs in the annex to their complaint.
Notably, our international appeal to the UN was reported worldwide by Agence France Presse: Case Filed At UN Against Hamas Over Detained Palestinian.
2. Delivered Sole Intervention in United Nations Plenary
Out of 193 UN member states and 5,100 NGOs accredited to the world body, the only intervention delivered on the floor of the United Nations calling for Rami Aman’s release was delivered by our cross-regional coalition in the UN Human Rights Council plenary on Sept. 21st. UN Watch director Hillel Neuer urged the UN to hold Hamas accountable. “The detention of Rami Aman constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty on multiple grounds,” said Neuer. Read the full oral statement here.
3. Spearheaded Non-Stop Social Media Campaign to Raise International Awareness
Since news of Aman’s arrest broke and until the day of his release, UN Watch worked non-stop on social media to raise public awareness about the plight of the courageous Gaza peace activist. This included near-daily posts by UN Watch and its director on Twitter and Facebook, and sharing powerful footage of Aman days before his arrest, in an effort to appeal to governments, rights groups, and world leaders.
4. Persuaded Amnesty International to Declare Aman a “Prisoner of Conscience”
After four weeks of sustained activism by UN Watch, Amnesty agreed to issue a statement that rightfully designated Rami Aman a Prisoner of Conscience and called for his “immediate and unconditional release.” Before that, Amnesty International had persistently refused to issue any statement on Aman’s detention, restricting itself to making guarded and indirect replies to media queries. For a timeline on the arrest of Aman, the controversy in Gaza, and Amnesty’s role, click here.
5. Published Op-ed in Newsweek Magazine
UN Watch’s Hilary Miller published an op-ed in Newsweek urging international action to free Aman: “It’s time for both governments and campaign groups to finally speak out, with clear conviction, for the release from prison of the most courageous Palestinian peace advocate of our generation.”
6. Sent Letters to 14 Foreign Ministers Urging Action
UN Watch appealed to foreign ministers around the world to urge them to take action for Rami Aman, sending letters to Germany’s Heiko Maas, France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the UK’s Dominic Raab. Letters were also sent to the foreign ministers of Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
7. United Nations Published Written Appeal as Official Document
Out of 5,100 UN-accredited NGOs, the only human rights group to submit a written submission to the UN calling for Rami’s release was UN Watch, on behalf of its international coalition of 70 NGOs. This was published by the UN as an official document, A/HRC/45/NGO/149.
UN Watch’s persistent efforts and mobilization of international pressure have now borne fruit. On Monday, a Hamas-run court convicted Aman of “weakening revolutionary spirit” but ordered his release.
UN Watch will continue to champion the cause of peaceful dissidents who risk everything to bravely defy oppressive and dictatorial regimes.