Human Rights Watch wasted no time in condemning Israel’s imposition of an effective travel ban on Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.”
Previously, in light of direct threats against Barghouti by Israeli ministers, Amnesty International had expressed its concern for the “safety and liberty” of Barghouti, amid what it called “an escalation of acts of intimidation” by the Israeli government against human rights defenders.
Activists are urging thousands of people to contact the US State Department to protest the Israeli move.
EU passivity But given opportunities to speak out in defense of human rights, the Obama administration and the EU have decided to give Israel a wink – amounting to tacit support for its crackdown on Barghouti’s freedom of speech and association.
“The EU Delegation in Israel and the European Union Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip are closely following the case of Mr. Omar Barghouti, who lives with his family in Acre in Israel,” the spokesperson for EU foreign affairs and security policy told The Electronic Intifada in an email. more