A Case Study in Double Standards: Palestinian Prisoners in Israel vs Student Prisoners in Turkey

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Like all the other supposed crimes of Israel, the issue of palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails gets a lot of attention, especially at the United Nations.

For example:

UN Special Committee concerned over deteriorating health of Palestinian detainees on mass hunger strike

GENEVA / CAIRO (5 June 2014) – The UN Special Committee* to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories on Thursday expressed grave concerns about the reported worsening health conditions of more than 75 Palestinian detainees on hunger strike now in hospital protesting Israel’s continued use of administrative detention.

At the end of its annual fact-finding visit to Amman and Cairo (1 to 5 June 2014), members** of the Special Committee urged Israel to heed the demand of the hunger strikers to end the practice of arbitrary administrative detention of Palestinians.

“It is a desperate plea by these detainees to be afforded a very basic standard of due process: to know what they are accused of and to be able to defend themselves,” said the Committee.

“Concerns over the health of Palestinian prisoners extend more widely,” said the Committee, noting that, “this year again, we have a number of testimonies indicating that medical needs of Palestinian detainees within the Israeli prison system have been neglected, in some cases leading to deaths which might have been avoided with proper care and timely diagnosis.”

“Given that there are more than 5,000 Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody, we strongly appeal to the Israeli authorities to allow all Palestinian detainees, especially women and children, to be periodically seen by Palestinian doctors in order to avoid losing more lives,” stated the Special Committee.

The European Parliament has also raised a stink about the plight of these palestinian prisoners.

According to B’Tselem (yes, let’s take their numbers assuming they are the “worst-case scenario”), there are approximately 5,800 palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails.

According to COGAT, we are not speaking about boy scouts.

security prisoners in Israel are those convicted of an offense that involves harm to the State of Israel or a nationalistic motive. Over 2,000 are serving their sentences for being directly responsible for the murder of Israelis.

These prisoners are treated relatively well, especially when compared with other countries in the Arab world and even the West.

Security prisoners in Israel are entitled to a number of  basic rights, as well as receiving additional benefits. Under the basic conditions, inmates are entitled to meet with an attorney (within a professional framework), receive medical treatment, religious rights, basic living conditions (such as hot water, showers and sanitation), proper ventilation and electric infrastructure. They also receive regular visits from the Red Cross and education as well.

Apart from these basic conditions, security prisoners in Israel’s are entitled to receive newspapers, send and receive letters and read and keep their own books. Prisoners are even permitted to buy goods from the prison’s canteen, which is run by the inmates themselves. If that is not enough,relatives of prisoners can deposit money for them at the post office’s bank. As a part of the living conditions, prisoners receive family visitations, television watching hours and even electrical appliances, such as kettles and mosquito killers.

And let’s not forget the prisoners can even pursue higher education while in Israeli prisons.

In the meantime, here is what the UN has to say about student prisoners in Turkish prisons.

As for the European parliament, they have certainly not released any reports about the plight of these student prisoners. They have criticized Turkey for certain arrests (here is one example), but it is a joke compared to their criticism of Israel.

Now let’s put it into perspective: There are currently more than 70,000 students in Turkish prisons, the number jumping to approximately 100,000 if you include those in pre-trial detention. The students’ imprisonment is reportedly “politically motivated” and “represents Erdogan’s approach to university, students and academy”….the majority of imprisoned students being “Kurdish and leftists.” And this is just the students; as of November 2017, there were approximately 231,000 people in Turkish prisons.

Needless to say, they endure worse conditions than palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

5,800 vs 100,000.

Serious crimes (including murder) vs purely political prisoners not guilty of serious crimes

If this double standard does not infuriate you, I don’t know what will.

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