Last week two young women called the offices asking for help: a couple of days earlier they sat down in a café, and ended the evening in a police station, with serious injuries and medical interventions. What began as a simple conversation with the policemen ended with a bleeding nose, battered faces and doctors' visits. And now these women were calling us and asking if we could help them; if someone would accompany them to the police station.
When this story was shared at the staff meeting, shock was soon followed by automatic reactions: "Maybe they drank too much?" "They must have been disrespectful to the policewoman, no?" This reaction tells us a lot about ourselves – about our wish to find an excuse, to find a sensible explanation of how an evening out turns into a nightmare. But it is not these women's responsibility to ensure that such an evening ends differently. The onus is first of all on the police; and in the second place on us, the citizens, to demand a police force that behaves differently. And here we need your help.
A woman who underwent a humiliating nude search in a police station, or a man who was beaten bloody and kicked by the border police in the van, need and deserve professional support. It's not simple to present a complaint to the Police Investigatory Unit ("Mahash"), to give testimony alone, to follow up on the file, and to know how to demand and receive useful and to the point answers. In our work we see violence crossing genders and identities, and case after case is not treated suitably by the PIU, regardless of whether the allegations are against "regular" or border police. We can help people in these situations, contribute our experience and professional legal knowledge. But to do so we need you.
PCATI's police violence documentation project began on a small scale a year ago. But as the number of testimonies mounted, the scale of the problem became apparent. I, like all of us here in the office, was surprised by the phonecalls arriving every week, by the sheer number of people seeking advice and support. PCATI treats police violence comprehensively, across all sectors of the population; to continue this essential work, we need your help.
Here is the link to join the campaign: http://bit.ly/29yqxD3
And of course you are welcome to call us for directions at the new telephone number – 972-3-7733134. Let's not leave victims of violence without support.