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Statement of Susan Barclay, US Political Prisoner of Israel

by International Solidarity Movement Monday, Mar. 10, 2003 at 1:56 PM

At 9 am on Monday, March 10th the Jerusalem District Court will conduct a hearing concerning the re-arrest of the American peace activist Susan Barclay. This is her statement in response.

Statement of Susan B...
susanmugshot.jpg, image/jpeg, 171x203

My name is Susan Barclay. I am a non-violent peace activist with the International Solidarity Movement and have been living primarily in Nablus for the past 8 months. I was arrested on February 20th, 2003 and released from Hadera prison on February 28th, 2003 after successfully resisting deportation. I have spent the past week largely in legal matters (filing a civil law suit against the State of Israel for unlawful arrest and contesting my deportation order) during which I have been repeatedly called a "security threat" by the State of Israel. Currently the state is using the pretext of security to pre-empt a discussion of legality. I am appealing a decision made by an Immigration judge in a hearing on March 4th to re-arrest me and will have a hearing as soon as the presiding judge reviews my appeal and sets a time (probably March 9th or 10th). At the hearing there is a very high possibility that I will be re-arrested. I am writing what may be my last statement before being imprisoned.

This week the State of Israel in hearing and court proceedings regarding my unlawful arrest, my deportation order, my civil suit and now my potential re-arrest has completely avoided the illegality of my arrest and the issue of my visa, saying in every legal forum that I am a "security threat" as if this justifies my unlawful treatment.

The accusations from the State of Israel are based on information collected by the Shabak (Israeli Secret Police)and include the following:

1. That I staying in the Occupied Territories with an expired visa;

2. That I was arrested while participating in a violent demonstration;

3. That I stayed "in the houses of suicide bombers as a sign of solidarity";

4. That I have been involved in demonstrations against IDF soldiers and provocations;

5. That I have "ties with Palestinians suspected of terrorism";

6. That "It is also known that she has been collecting information about an IDF officer".

These allegations are from a memorandum from Attorney Daniel Solomon of the Ministry of the Interior dated March 4th and from other official legal documents of which I have copies.

The first accusation is regarding my "expired" visa. I had a three month tourist visa dated September 17th, 2002 which expired December 17th, 2002. I went to the Ministry of the Interior on the 17th and discovered an enormous bureaucracy that necessitated an early morning arrival in order to be seen before noon when the office closed. After spending 2 more days waiting in lines with numbers and Friday and Saturday while the Ministry was closed, I finally completed the application for a visa extension on December 22, 2002 and received a blue receipt for 135 shekels, proof that I had applied and begun the process. I provided the Ministry with an address and phone number where I could be reached and I explicitly asked if I would have any problems with police or soldiers. I was assured that I wouldn't and told to come back in about a month.

I returned on January 26th, 2003 at 6:30 am to the Ministry and was seen and informed around 9:45 am that no decision had yet been made and to come back in a few more weeks. The night I was detained there was a taxi from Jerusalem waiting for me on the other side of Huwara checkpoint and I planned to enquire about my visa over the weekend.

The Ministry of Interior never phoned or sent anything to the address I provided and I was informed during my interrogation by Avi (the interrogating police officer) for the first time that my application had been denied to which I responded:

"Isn't it normal process that I would be informed and given a period of time to leave the country?"

This question remains unanswered.

The second accusation is that I was arrested during a violent demonstration. I was detained at Huwara checkpoint with another international at approximately 6 pm on February 20th. I had done nothing more than say "Hello. How are you?" to the soldier and turn over my ID, when I was informed that I was going to have to wait. I was told that I had "interfered in something" and had to wait for someone, who I suspected and later learned to be the police. We (the other activist and I) did not object or resist in the slightest; in fact we completely cooperated, convinced that there was a misunderstanding. When the police arrived and claimed my visa was expired, the soldier who had detained us said: "Wow Susan, none of us in Nablus knew about your visa!"

Additionally, it should be reiterated that I am a non-violent peace activist and have never participated in any violent demonstration. Moreover, there were absolutely no demonstrations, non-violent or otherwise, in Nablus on the 20th and certainly not at Huwara checkpoint; it was the second day of an invasion of the Old City.

I did a number of interview with press while I was detained at Huwara military base, including on with Denis Bernstein during which I explained the situation in the Old City and how I was detained.

The third accusation that I "stayed in the houses of suicide bombers who committed terrorist acts as a sign of solidarity" is cleverly worded to mislead judges and others about my activities and intentions and thus I feel it is especially important to address it.

ISM activists sleep in the homes of innocent people that the State of Israel punishes for crimes they did not commit. We stay in homes of mourning families, that have lost a son or brother, and that are threatened with house demolition. These families go to sleep each and every night in fear that soldiers will come in the night to destroy their home.

The Israeli Army's official policy of demolishing the homes of families of suicide bombers is a form of collective punishment that is strictly prohibited according to the 4th Geneva Convention.

I am completely opposed to the killing of innocent civilians, which is also illegal according to the 4th Geneva Convention, regardless of where it takes place (Gaza of Tel Aviv) and do not in any way condone any kind of bombing that targets innocent people.

The fourth accusation is that I "was involved in demonstrations against IDF soldiers and also provocations". This is very vague but I have a few comments.

Foremost, I am not in anyway against IDF soldiers, nor would I demonstrate against them. My actions are guided by a desire to better humanity. I have been part of non-violent demonstrations calling for real justice, lasting peace, an end to collective punishment, closures and "curfews" (24 hour house imprisonment) and for the right to education. I am not against people, soldiers or otherwise; I am for fundamental human rights for all of us and an end to oppressive systems of power.

In terms of provocations, I have been involved in humanitarian work during invasions, operations and sieges, working largely with medical volunteers, attempting to protect innocent civilians, evacuate people from dangerous areas and homes, provide food and medicine to people imprisoned in their homes and have talked and negotiated with many soldiers to do this. I don't think helping innocent civilians get necessary food and medicine is provocative. I think it is basic.

The 5th accusation is that I have "ties with Palestinians suspected of terrorism". This is a very vague accusation but I nevertheless have an initial response.

I have worked with and know many Palestinians in Nablus and have participated exclusively in non-violent resistance to the Israeli Occupation.

I have also witnessed the arrests of hundreds of men in the past months that the State of Israel justifies by claiming that they were "security threats".

A Palestinian can be arrested without charge or trial and imprisoned for up to 6 months. At the end to this period his or her term of imprisonment can be renewed, again without charge or trial. The Shabak present a secret file to a judge in private about the defendant, claiming he or she is a "security threat" and the judge makes a decision about imprisonment after hearing from a lawyer who represents a client without charge and without access to the evidence against him.

The State of Israel never explains or presents evidence openly as to what exactly a "security threat" is.

My case is unique in that the State is actually presenting allegations about why I constitute a "security threat".

If non-violent peace activists who opposed war crime, collective punishment, the killing of innocent civilians, excessive use of force and human rights abuses, who attempt to de-escalate situations and weave humanity into a land numbed by 36 years of military occupation can be called a "security threat", then of course the State of Israel can claim that I have ties with Palestinians suspected of terrorism. Almost every single Palestinian man between the ages of 15-50 is suspected of "terrorism". What this "terrorism" is remains unexplained, secret and therefore irrefutable.

I would really like to see the State of Israel present specific evidence about the "terrorism" Palestinians I have ties to are involved in. If a non-violent American peace activist is a threat to Israel's security, then who isn't?

Ultimately, I have ties to many innocent civilians who attempt to live normal lives under military occupation, who are suffering from gross human rights violations, and who wholeheartedly want real peace.

The sixth and final accusation as to why I constitute a security threat is that I have been collecting information about an IDF officer. This is true. The officer's name is Ariel Ze'ev. He was in the Nablus area, living in a civilian home that the Israeli Army has occupied in Msakken Shabiya (a neighborhood) and spending his days at a checkpoint near three villages south east of Nablus called Az'mut, Deir Hatib and Salem.

Internationals filed an official complaint about Ariel Ze'ev after countless interactions in which he was violent, ruthless, admitted and even boasted about his inhumanity ("I am not human") and his pleasure in making people suffer. I personally witnessed him physically assault international non-violent activists, threaten my and other activists lives, put his M-16 assault rifle to a number of our heads and fire live ammunition very close to our feet and legs. Ariel Ze'ev uses physical and verbal violence to terrorize everyone who crosses his path and is obviously disturbed. Many concerned citizens around the world have enquired about this soldier and many more (including Israelis) made complaints.

Ariel Ze'ev is one soldier who has certainly been witnessed callously abusing human rights and internationals have been observing his actions and attempting to inform the Israeli Army and the world about his unstable mental health and irresponsible, dangerous behavior.

My name is one of many on an official complaint sent to the IDF documenting Ariel Ze'ev's behavior and this is certainly nothing the state of Israel should consider secret of suspect.

Having written all this and responded to each allegation against me, I would like to add one comment.

I am not on trial. I am the plaintiff in a civil law suit against the State of Israel because I was unlawfully arrested and imprisoned and I want to testify in a court of law.

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