June 14, 2012

Cantona onside for BDS and prisoners' rights

I got this Friends of al Aqsa report via Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.

Eric Cantona has lent his name to calls for the release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held without charge or trial by Israel and to calls to relocate the UEFA under-21 competition away from Israel to a state with a better human rights record.  Here's the letter Cantona, among others, signed:

We are all shocked at the racist chanting at football matches in Poland and Ukraine where Euro 2012 is being played. Footballing bodies and politicians have been outspoken in their condemnation. Indeed some government officials are boycotting group stage matches in Ukraine because of perceived human rights abuses in that country.
So why are these same groups silent when Israel is to host the U.E.F.A. Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country.
Israeli government ministers respond to mob attacks on black refugees by denouncing them as 'infiltrators' and calling for them to be imprisoned in military camps.
Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, more than 300 of them "administrative detainees" held without charge or trial. One of these is a footballer from Gaza, Mahmoud Sarsak, aged 25. He has been imprisoned for nearly three years. No charge, no trial. In desperation, he has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days and is now close to death. He, and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support.
It is time to end Israel's impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.'
Signed (in personal capacity):
Eric Cantona
Noam Chomsky, Professor MIT, USA
John Dugard, Former Special Rapporteur of UN on Palestine, South Africa
Trevor Griffiths, Writer, UK
Paul Laverty, Screenwriter, UK
Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK
Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actor, UK
John Pilger, Journalist, author, film maker, Australia
Ahdaf Soueif, Writer, UK
Michael Mansfield QC, UK
Israel of course isn't the only serial human rights abuser to host an international competition. Just recently Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision song contest and more seriously Bahrain hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Football has a higher profile than both of those but as with holding Eurovision in Azerbaijan and the Grand Prix in Bahrain, the holding of the UEFA under-21 competition in Israel will have the effect of whitewashing the crimes of the regime, hence the calls to relocate.

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