Bassem Tamimi to Judge: I Do Not Recognize Your Rules

By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 20 February 2012

Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh testified yesterday as part of the defense’s case in the ongoing trial against him. Tamimi, suspected of protest related charges, was arrested on March last year, and remains in detention since.

A short video with archive footage and an interview with Tamimi held shortly before his arrest.   Video by Popular Strugge Coordination Committee

After 11 months in an Israeli jail, Bassem Tamimi, a prominent Palestinian activist from Nabi Saleh, was given a chance to plead his case before the military court in regards to the allegations against him, denying them in full while owning up to his and his village’s struggle against the Occupation and the theft of their lands. Tamimi, who was recognized by the European Union as a human rights defender last year, said, “International law gives us the right to peaceful protest, to demonstrate our refusal of the policies that hurt us, our daily life and the future of our children”.

Tamimi began his testimony by telling of his past experience in Israeli prisons and interrogation rooms. He recounted how he was tortured so badly by the Israeli Shin Bet in 1993 that he suffered a severe Intracranial hemorrhage which left him unconscious for a week and partially paralyzed.

He then continued to explain the reason behind the Nabi Saleh protests, saying “I do not know and do not care if they are permitted by your law, as it was enacted by an authority I do not recognize”. He narrated how the settlers from the nearby Halamish continuously took over lands belonging to his village since the 1970s abetted by the army and how, when villagers tried to prevent the latest attempts to seize their lands, the Israeli army exerted repression tactics against them. “Every time we try to help them work the land, before we reach it, they disperse us using rubber bullets, tear gas and using excessive force. This is what happens every Friday”, he said.

Based on coerced statements extracted unlawfully by the Israeli police from two minors, Tamimi is charged with organizing his village of 500 people in a formation of 11 battalions and assigning them different roles during the demonstrations. When asked of his reply to the charges against him Tamimi answered, This is ridiculous and makes no sense, how stupid would I be to try and organize a 500 people village in 11 battalions […] If indeed there were such battalions how come the Shin Bet or anyone else did not continue the investigation and arrests after mine was carried out? No one continued to look into this issue to try and dismantle this ‘army’ of mine”, he cynically remarked. “True justice would not have me stand here before this court at all, let alone while I am imprisoned and shackled. This case is baseless and made up with the sole goal of putting me behind bars […]”, he continued.

During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including proof of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, as well as first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations.

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