The Mamilla cemetery has been a Muslim burial ground since the 7th century, when companions of the Prophet Muhammad were reputedly buried there. Before that, it was the site of a Byzantine church and cemetery.
The western part of Jerusalem, including the Mamilla cemetery, came under Israeli control in 1948. This was despite United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, which aimed to create an international corpus separatum for Jerusalem and ensure the protection of all holy sites.
The government of Israel, over several decades, has progressively encroached upon the cemetery with the construction of roads, buildings, parking lots and parks. Israel has ignored the repeated protests of Jerusalemites and other Palestinians (as well as Jews and others) against these desecrations, which included appeals to international bodies such as UNESCO.
The latest incursion, and the one most outrageous to the Petitioners and others, involves the construction of this so-called “Center for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance” by the SWC, with the support of the Israeli government. This construction project has resulted in the undignified disinterment and disposal of several hundred of graves and human remains, the exact amount and whereabouts of which are currently unknown, and threatens to erect a monument to “Human Dignity” and “Tolerance” atop thousands more graves.
This Petition was submitted to:
1.The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Ms. Navi Pillay)
2. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief (Ms. Asma Jahangir)
3. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (Mr. Githu Muigai)
4. The United Nations Independent Expert in the Field of Cultural Rights (Ms. Najat M’jid Maalla)
5. Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura)
6. The Government of Switzerland in its capacity as depository of the Fourth Geneva Conventions
The Petitioners are individuals whose human rights have been violated by the destruction and desecration of an ancient Muslim cemetery, the Ma’man Allah (Mamilla) cemetery in Jerusalem, by the government of Israel working in conjunction with the Simon Wiesenthal Center (“SWC”) of Los Angeles, California, USA. Petitioners also include human rights non-governmental organizations concerned about this desecration. A significant portion of the cemetery is being destroyed and hundreds of human remains are being desecrated so that SWC can build a facility to be called the “Center for Human Dignity - Museum of Tolerance” on this sacred Muslim site.
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