(24 May 2016) An open letter from human rights defenders to Mr. Adama Dieng, concerning participation in the INoGS 2016 annual conference

PR/EN/240516/25

Mr Dieng,

We, the 28 undersigned organizations, call upon you - in your capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide -  to withdraw your participation from the annual conference of the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS), scheduled to take place June 26-29 2016, at the Hebrew University in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mass, forced removal from - and displacement within - the ancestral homeland has come to charaterize the Palestinian experience since the very creation of Israel. Some 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes by widespread and systematic violence perpetrated by Jewish militias during the Nakba, or catastrophe, with thousands of Palestinian civilians killed, and more than 550 Palestinian villages razed. This displacement laid the foundations for a Palestinian refugee population today of almost 7.2 million persons (representing approximately 60% of the total global Palestinian population), and approximately 720,000 IDPs. 

The case of East Jerusalem - invaded and occupied by Israel in 1967, and formally annexed in 1980 - is particularly instructive in understanding Israel’s removal of Palestinians from the land. Israel has, in clear violation of international law, pursued rapid settlement expansion inside East Jerusalem - intended as the capital of a future Palestinian state - while simultaneously seeking to remove the resident Palestinian population. This removal has been vigously pursued through a range of policies, including a concerted programme of revocation of residency rights of Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem, with more than 14,500 such revocations taking place between 1967 and 2015. 

Israel has also implemented a demonstrably discriminatory zoning and planning regime inside Jerusalem which has severely restricted the ability of Palestinians to build legally. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, since 1967 the Israeli occupying power has demolished almost 50,000 Palestinian structures in the occupied Palestinain territory (oPt)) including an estimated 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem. In addition, between 2002 and mid-2015, the Israeli Ministry of Interior rejected in excess of 3,300 of some 11,000 Palestinian applications for family reunification in East Jerusalem, while roughly 25% of Palestinian child registration applications were denied by Israel between 2002 and March 2015.

In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing was prompted to conclude that Israel is dispossessing Palestinians throughout the oPt through a “strategy of Judaisation”. In 2015, The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt raised his grave concern at Israeli “aims to achieve a particular demographic balance in Jerusalem. These work to stifle the natural growth of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, eliminate the possibility for most Palestinians of moving there and put pressure on Palestinians to leave. They affect all aspects of Palestinian life, including the rights to freedom of movement, adequate housing, access to education and health services, respect for family life and freedom from discrimination.” Accordingly, Israeli acts and policies throughout the oPt are increasingly being viewed through lenses of population transfer and genocide linked to settler colonialism.

Moreover, the conference is sponsored by five Israeli academic institutions which have been complicit in Israel’s decades-long oppression of Palestinians inside occupied East Jerusalem. To this end, the venue for this conference - the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University - is built partially on unlawfully expropriated Palestinian land. Billing the conference as being held in ‘Jerusalem, Israel’, therefore, contributes to a whitewashing of Israeli crimes and dispassion of Palestinians. 

PHROC also takes this opportunity to highlight Israel’s continuing non-cooperation with the UN Special Procedures mechanisms and other investigative bodies, including the refusal of access to numerous Special Rapporteurs, the 2012 UN Fact-finding Mission on Israeli Settlements and the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Gaza 2014. 

Further, Palestinian and international human rights organizations are currently in the process of presenting evidence of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court, including compelling evidence of international crimes with close associations to genocide, such as murder, forcible transfer and persecution. These efforts have been met with threats and harassment from governmental and non-governmental actors.

For the above reasons, both the location of the INoGS conference and its attendance are incompatible with your mandate, which strives to protect populations from the worst international crimes.  here

We, the undersigned, therefore reiterate our call for you to act out of principle and in accordance with the spirit of your mandate, and withold your participation in the conference until such a time that the event is relocated to another country. Failure to do so would represent tacit acceptance of Israeli-perpetrated grave breaches of international law, and severely undermine the legitimacy of the mandate.

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  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
  • BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
  • Defense for Children International Palestine
  • Jerusalem Legal Aid Human Rights Center
  • Hurryat Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
  • Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
  • Academics for Palestine, Ireland
  • Alliance to Restore Cultural Heritage in Palestine 
  • Association Belgo-Palestinienne 
  • Association France Palestine Solidarité 
  • Association Women and Development, Geneva
  • BDS Berlin
  • BDS Slovenia
  • BDS Switzerland 
  • Collective Urgence Palestine, Switzerland
  • Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient
  • Dignity, Geneva/Lebanon
  • European Coordination Committee for Palestine
  • Finnish-Arab Friendship Society, Finland
  • Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign 
  • Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, UK
  • Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, Finland
  • Netherlands Palestinian Committee
  • Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Belgium
  • Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, England
  • Women in Black, Germany
  • Women in Black, Vienna
  • Women in Black, Switzerland