Israel refuses to allow winner of Dutch human rights prize to travel to the Netherlands

3 March 2009

Israel refuses to allow winner of Dutch human rights prize to travel to the Netherlands

The SP is urging Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to put pressure on Israel to allow human rights activist Shawin Jarbarin to travel to the Netherlands. The director of the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq has been invited to the Netherlands to receive in person the 'Geuzenpenning' (literally, beggars' mite) a Dutch award given to persons or organisations who have fought for democracy and against dictatorship, racism and discrimination. The award takes its name from De Geuzen, 'The Beggars', a resistance group active in Vlaardingen, Maassluis and Rotterdam during the Nazi occupation suffered by the Netherlands in World War Two. It is presented by the city of Vlaardingen. Israel is refusing to allow Shawin Jarbarin to travel.

The human rights prize, awarded by the Stichting Geuzenverzet (Beggars' Resistance Foundation), will be presented on 13th March in Vlaardingen to representatives of the winners, the human rights groups Al-Haq and B'Tselem. The two organisations, one Palestinian, one Israeli, will receive this year's prize as a result of their independent and critical attitude towards both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (PA)..

Harry van BommelJarbarin was intending to come to the Netherlands on behalf of Al-Haq, but has not been given permission to travel by the Israelis. “It is typical of the Israeli attitude," says SP international affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel, “that a human rights activist should be systematically hindered in his work, even if he is awarded a prize abroad. The Dutch government must take a stand against this." Van Bommel is also demanding that Dutch diplomats take note of the way in which the Israeli High Court responds to appeals against the travel ban, which will be heard on 5th March. .

Al-Haq (Justice) is an independent Palestinian human rights organisation which attempts to record testimony from victims and eye-witnesses of abuses, whether committed by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) or by the PA. Al-Haq tries, together with co-workers in the Occupied Territories, to gather information on the abuse of power and on transgressions of human rights. Al-Haq's central task during the last year has been to attempt to improve matters in relation to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The independent Israeli organisation B'Tselem (Human Dignity) seeks to inform Israeli citizens about the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. A broadly composed group of academics, lawyers, journalists and parliamentarians established the organisation in 1989.

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