This year was "challenging", as one says euphemistically, and brought with it violence, arrests - especially of minors – and human rights abuses. The lack of tolerance towards human rights organizations and those who wish to recognize the suffering of others reached a nadir. Surrounded by this atmosphere, we still continued to work, act and reach new audiences.
We began a project supporting detained minors in East Jerusalem; in this context Adv. Khalil Zaher provided legal support and advice to minors alleging violence by security forces, and with the help of a colleague organization he supports them and their families in the lengthy process. Adv. Zaher helped these minors present complaints alleging torture and ill-treatment to the relevant authorities, and gave lectures on rights in detention to male and female students in East Jerusalem.
We expanded our work on police violence, helping people attacked by policemen – sometimes simply because of their ethnicity - present complaints to the Police Investigative Department. The project leader, Adv. Noah Levi, represented among others Maysam Abu Alkayan, who was beaten by policemen in front of a supermarket in Tel Aviv; Bat-El and her sister, young women of Mizrahi descent who were attacked by policemen while sitting in a public garden; and an Ethiopian youth beaten by policemen in Netivot. With your generous help we raised more than 20,000 NIS for this purpose, and we will be able to continue supporting them in the next year.
Our core focus from PCATI's foundation has been documenting and supporting detainees alleging torture in ISA interrogations. Unfortunately, this work too continues apace; three High Court of Justice petitions brought by victims of torture are pending at the moment, and we expect to receive answers in the next year. This subject was also heavily represented in PCATI's shadow report, presented to the UN Committee Against Torture. Our Legal Director, Adv. Efrat Bergman-Sapir, went to Geneva to shed light on the full picture of state violence in Israel. Our work was noted by the press, and this year saw many reports of our work and cases in the written and broadcast media in Israel.
Last but not least … we moved to Tel Aviv! This was not a simple step, certainly not for an organization founded in Jerusalem and with strong roots in the city; but I hope that this measure will help us deal with the financial challenges facing us.
Just after Eid al-Adha and just before Rosh Hashana, we have an opportunity to stop and examine the trials of last year: the violence against friends and colleagues; the injustices that reach our doorstep; the all-too frequent willful ignorance of our society from difficult stories.
But this is also our chance to stop for a moment and see the blessings of the year past: and I want to focus on the dedication of volunteers who give of their time and energies, who pause their busy lives and find the time and space to hear testimonies. I want to see the courage of people who decide not to give up, but share their painful private story so that it is not repeated. This is also a chance for me and for all of us to think what shape the next year will take. May it be a year in which we can rejoice with our clients in a just outcome.
Thank, and Happy New Year for those celebrating! Rachel Stroumsa,