Wednesday, March 16, 2005


False Arrest and Brutal Interrogation of a Peace Activist in Tul Karm

Vera Reider passed this on in English, and I had already received a copy in Italian from Al-Awda. I don't know if they are promoting the establishing of committees, petition campaigns or protests, and I haven't written to the email address posted here. For the moment, I believe that it is at any rate important to diffuse the information that the international community is aware of this arrest and of the torture of a peace activist.

Join the "Israeli and International Committee to Free Muhammad Tanji"

Muhammad Tanji, a 36 year old educational counselor from Tul Karm, known to all as 'Aziz', has for many years been known in Israel, in the occupied Palestinian Territories and in the international community as a peace activist who devotes most of his time to education for dialogue and against violence. On the March 3rd, 2005, Aziz was arrested by soldiers while on his way from Abu Dis University, where he is studying for his Post Graduate in Social Sciences. "The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel" succeeded in arranging for a lawyer to meet Aziz in Kishon Prison (also known as Jalameh) only on Wednesday. In Aziz’s statement to the lawyer he declared that in the course of his interrogation he was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He was beaten, was held in physical restraints for hours on end, and more. In light of this information, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has appealed to the High Court of Justice for an end to the use of torture in the interrogation of Muhammad Tanji.

According to the statement, Aziz is being questioned regarding alleged anti-Israeli activities with the Islamic Jihad. For anyone who knows Aziz, these accusations are unfathomable. The interrogators are applying severe physical and mental pressure on Aziz to confess that he is responsible for a cell of the Islamic Jihad, and that he has carried out military activities. The statement reads: “My legs are dripping with blood from the tight cuffs…up to 1:30 in the morning, on a chair with my hands in cuffs, with my feet chained to the chair…” The physical pressures being exerted on Aziz are being backed by open threats of administrative arrest and falsified criminal charges: The investigators threatened that the interrogations will continue until he confesses to activities with the Islamic Jihad, and that if he does not confess they will charge him falsely with participation in the murder of a soldier.

Aziz devotes the great majority of his time and energy to his work with children and youths advancing the values of dialogue, coexistence and peace. He has planted hope in the hearts of many that there is a willing partner on the Israeli side. Aziz has never swerved from this path, even when his peace activities aroused the anger of those who do not accept the road of dialogue, and he has even received threats from various Palestinian groups, including the Islamic Jihad.

Since the year 2000, Aziz has been active in “Windows,” an Israeli-Palestinian NGO working to advance understanding between the youths of both nations. In the course of his activities with “Windows,” he has accompanied and facilitated many meetings between groups of youths from both sides; he has established a large community of “Windows” activists in the Tulkarm area, and served on the organization’s Board of Directors for three years. Today, he is active in the organization Kufiya, an Italian-Palestinian group that provides economic assistance and education in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Aziz has initiated joint activities between Kufiya and the Israeli youth organization 'Sadaka-Reut – For Coexistence in Israel' – whose goal is to advance dialogue and understanding between the two peoples.

Aziz’s many friends in Israel and the world have been following the developments of his arrest with shock and anger, and they are actively working for his immediate release. Among those who have joined this cause are Louisa Morgantini, a Member of the European Parliament and many European peace organizations.

The committee:

Lana Tatur and Efrat Wolfson (Windows) 972 - 54-2161656
Gamila yafit Biso (The Olive Tree Movement) 972 - 52-4341840
Dafna Banai (Machsom Watch, Sadaka-Reut) 972 - 52-2575938
Fadi Shbeita (Sadaka-Reut) 972 - 54-4859046
Anat Matar – 972 - 52-856001
Paola Ghiglione (kufia onlus, Italia) 39 – 0106515148 M. 39 - 3471035397


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