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Free Heba Al-Labadi - London Protest Demands Action From Jordanian Government


inminds
16 October 2019



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon


On Tuesday 15th October 2019 Inminds Human Rights Group held a protest outside the Jordanian Embassy in London to urge the Jordanian government to use its considerable influence to help free Heba Labadi, a Palestinian Jordanian citizen who has been imprisoned and tortured by Israel for nearly two months without any charge, and who has been on hunger strike for 20 days in protest.

Inminds chair Abbas Ali was invited inside for a meeting with the Jordanian Ambassador Mr Omar Al-Nahar to discuss Heba's case. A letter was handed to the Ambassador outlining three practical actions the Jordanian government should take to help Heba. In the letter, Inminds chair, Abbas Ali, said "It is shameful that a daughter of the Kingdom of Jordan, Heba al-Labadi, has been abducted, tortured, sexually harassed, abused and humiliated, left languishing caged in conditions not fit for a dog for nearly two months, without food for 20 days, for no crime other than her ethnicity.. We ask you not to abandon Heba, to stand with her proudly and defend her rights, to exert all your strength, that your people have entrusted in you, to secure her freedom."




London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon


London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon

HEBA'S ARREST AND TORTURE

Heba Labadi, a 32 years old Palestinian from Jordan, was abducted on 20th August 2019 by Israeli occupation forces whilst she was travelling from Jordan to the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge crossing, to attend a family wedding in Nablus.

Heba Labadi was stripped of all of her clothes as soon as she was arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and leg-chained before being moved to the Pitah-Tikva interrogation centre. There she was horrifically tortured, both physically and psychologically. She was interrogated for 35 days. The torture sessions lasted 20 consecutive hours a day for the first 16 days, with only two 30 minute breaks for food. They shackling her hands and legs to a small chair and positioned her body to slant forward so that she cannot sit in a stable position. These stress positions are designed to cause maximum pain, many detainees have never recovered from this form of torture. Whist she was bound they violently shouted at her and physically abused her.

Heba has had to endure countless degrading strip searches, sexual harassment, abuse, and humiliation with interrogators provocatively touching her legs whilst she was tied up, and entering the bathroom with a machine gun starring at her whist she was changing her menstrual pad. They used physical violence and spat at her, insulted her religious beliefs. She said "they threatened me and said that they had arrested my mother and sister in an attempt to force me confess."

Her lawyer was prevented from seeing her for the first 23 days of torture. Her mother has not been allowed to see her, even after 2 months of imprisonment.

A REGIME OF TORTURE

As part of the torture, Heba was constantly rotated between Israel's different torture dens to face different interrogators. These included the Russian Compound of Jerusalem prison which has been named the "butcher shop" by female detainees.
One described her experience "I felt my body burning under their [electric shock] machine.. the intense pain.. so severe". Another female detainee, kindergarden teacher, testified "the interrogation went on for hours.. they punched me in the stomach.. and a female soldier repeatedly kicked me in the head until I lost consciousness.. when i awoke I found myself in a cell, chained to a bed and bleeding.. after I was examined by a doctor they found internal bleeding in my kidneys..".

Heba was also taken to Megiddo where young Palestinian father Arafat Jaradat, accused of throwing a stone, was tortured to death. Shin Bet claimed he had died of a heart attack but the autopsy carried out at the National Israeli Forensic Medicine Center showed no sign of heart failure or any other illness, but revealed broken bones and found his whole body was covered in "strong and excessive bruising".. "under the skin inside the muscle and along the spine at the bottom of the neck deep inside the tissue". The autopsy determined the cause of death as "nervous shock as a result of extreme pain from the intensity of the injuries, which resulted from multiple direct and extensive acts of torture".

Currently Heba is caged at Al Jalame which is infamous for its tiny "hole in the ground cells" three floors below the surface where children are often caged. A grandmother caged at Al Jalame described it as "I feel I was in the cell, death, in all sense of the word" [ like a coffin].

Heba, in a statement to her lawyer said "What I suffered in the interrogation and the detention conditions of cruelty and atrocity, I felt that this might be just imagination, but I lived it. It is abnormal and unjust, where I heard about their treatment but it is different from the reality. This experience is the greatest injustice to humanity, thus, we prefer death rather than humiliation."



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



Free Heba Labadi Placard design

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION

When all the torture failed to secure a false confession, they told her "we do not have any evidence against you, but we have the administrative detention with the authority to renew it for seven years and a half, and then we will detain you in the West Bank and prevent you from going to Jordan and deprive you of family visits". On 24th September Heba was slapped with a six month Administration Detention order.

Administration Detention is a practice whereby Israel arbitrarily imprisons Palestinians, often children, without charge or trial indefinitely on rolling 6 month detention orders. It is often used to jail Palestinians when there is no evidence for a trial, or as punishment. Palestinian prisoners have described administrative detention as "mental slaughter" as there is no charge so no way for them to defend themselves; and there is no indication of how long they will be imprisoned. As they complete one 6 month detention order and get ready to leave the prison with their family waiting at the gates, another detention order may be issued - some prisoners have been on rolling administrative detention orders on and off for 11 years!
Since 2000 Israel has issued over 26,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinians. In May 2016 the United Nations Committee Against Torture demanded Israel end its practice of AD. Today well over 400 Palestinians, including children, are caged under administrative detention orders.

HUNGER STRIKE FOR FREEDOM

Two days after receiving a 6 month administrative detention order, on 26th September, Heba started her hunger strike to protest her unjust treatment. Today is day 20 of her hunger strike. Unlike most hunger strikes she is not taking vitamins, nutritional supplements or salts - just water, so her health is plummeting rapidly. She has already lost nearly 10 Kg in weight and her health condition is now very precarious. As punishment for her hunger strike Heba has been moved to Israel's notorious Al Jalame dungeon and caged in isolation in a filthy underground cell infested with cockroaches. Despite all the pressure to end her hunger strike, Heba is defiant, she insists "I will continue until the end [of Administrative Detention] or I shall die."



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon


Free Heba Labadi Leaflet - front



Free Heba Labadi Leaflet - back



Free Heba Labadi Placard design



Free Heba Labadi Placard design

THE PROTEST AND MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR

It should be stressed at the outset that the protest was focused on trying to achieve one aim - to try and help secure Heba's freedom. So all our material from everything we displayed, to the leaflets and letter to ambassador, the speeches and chanted was tailored to that one end. We were not here to discuss Jordan's shameful capitulation and collaboration with the Israeli occupation, but were here to try and save Heba.

As soon as we started setting up the large banners for the protest outside the Jordanian Embassy, staff from inside came out to inquire what was going on. We explained that we were here for Heba, gave them a leaflet and asked if we could hand a letter to the ambassador. Half an hour later we were surprised to be invited inside to meet the Ambassador Omar Al-Nahar. Having protested outside countless embassies in the past, we have to admit that this was a very positive step by the Jordanian ambassador - he didn't even have to acknowledge us, let alone invite us inside for a meeting. Some embassies in the past have even refused to open the door to us.

In the meeting we handed the letter to the ambassador, which he carefully read in front of us, before asking us to move the protest away from his embassy. We explained that our aim was not to disrupt the embassy, there would be no obstruction to their entrances and we would be respectful to anyone entering or leaving the embassy - after all we were sure they would be sympathetic to Heba's plight - we were all on the same side here, all wanting Hebas's release. As we discussed Heba's plight, the ambassador kept changing the subject back to the protest "you could have just brought the letter, you didnt need to protest.. why aren't you outside the Israeli embassy.. can you move the protest 5m away from our embassy?"

The ambassador said they had done everything for Heba's release - summoned the Israeli ambassador twice, written a letter to the Israeli government and were in daily contact with both Heba's lawyer and her family in Jordan. We explained that clearly "everything" wasn't enough, a daughter of Jordan was being tortured and caged like a dog for two months, we were here to ask for more action from the Jordanian government. We went through the three points in the letter that we wanted help with from the Jordanian government.

1. Whilst we appreciated the Jordanian consul visiting Heba on 3rd September (at a time when no one else was allowed to visit her), we were however disappointed that he had not visited since - in the 42 days since then she has been further tortured and started a hunger strike, the Israeli regime might conclude that Jordan had abandoned her.

The ambassador insisted that the consul had been regularly visiting Heba - four times, including just last Sunday. We had gone on Heba's testimony of 29th September when she mentioned only one visit on 3rd Sept, we welcomed the increased visits.

2. With Heba's military hearing coming up on Thursday 17th October, that will confirm or vacate the arbitrary 6 month sentence she has received, we wanted their consul in Palestine to attend the hearing to show the judge that Jordan stands with her - this could make a huge difference, especially since both her lawyer and family have been barred from attending.

The ambassador said they were in regular contact with Heba's lawyer, and were surprised that a lawyer would be barred from Heba's hearing. He promised to contact his foreign office and then it is up to them to decide to send the consul to the hearing on Thursday.

3. Heba's mother has not been allowed to see her daughter since her arrest nearly two months ago. We wanted the Jordanian government to put pressure on the Israelis and the ICRC to ensure her mothers right to see her daughter was respected.

When we mentioned pressuring Israel on visitation, the ambassador's facial expression seemed of defeat but it soon picked up when we mentioned it was also very important for them to pressure the ICRC on this issue, as guardians of the Geneva Convention its their responsibility to ensure family visits. He promised to do this.

After these promising commitments the ambassador once again turned to the problem of the demo in front of their embassy. He said if we weren't going to move then he will have to contact the authorities who would move us. We said that was his right if he wished to take this in that direction, but we were staying.

When we left the meeting we were welcomed outside by several police - the ambassador had called them before the meeting. The police asked us to move the protest across the road away from the embassy, we refused saying we were within our rights to protest on this side of the road. The police explained that they were trapped between us and the political pressure the embassy was making, they were asking us nicely to compromise and move across the road. We explained that they were not trapped, they were here to uphold the law, which in this case meant upholding our right to protest on a public pavement. After the police once again went to talk to the embassy they told us that we were blocking the diplomatic car spaces of the embassy by protesting outside the embassy and that one of our protestors has hung her handbag on a railing that belonged to the embassy. We explained that we were not on the parking bays, but on the pavement, and besides they were parking bays on a public road - the embassy didnt own the land, we as UK tax payers did, and in any case we were not parking in them. We couldn't believe that the embassy would be so petty as to ask us to move the handbag from the railing so we asked the police for confirmation, they said yes, so we removed the bag. In the end the police agreed to leave us alone, confiding "this is not a Stasi state, if they are not happy they can talk to my superiors."

We wondered why the embassy was so worried about our protest, then we realised why. A delegation arrived to the embassy in a people carrier vehicle. All the delegates took leaflets, and were supportive of the protest, many taking photos. And after their function was over, when they came out they greeted us and took more photos before saying goodbye.

Despite these disagreements about the protest, it was a very good meeting with the ambassador, our hosts were very hospitable - the ambassador even sent one of the staff to the shops to buy bottled water to give to the protestors.


This is the letter we delivered to the Jordanian Ambassador Mr Omar Al-Nahar:



His Excellency Mr Omar Al-Nahar,
Ambassador of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
6 Upper Phillimore Gardens,
London,
W8 7HA

15th October 2019

Re: Heba al-Labadi, tortured Jordanian citizen imprisoned in Israel

Your Excellency,

It is shameful that a daughter of the Kingdom of Jordan, Heba al-Labadi, has been abducted, tortured, sexually harassed, abused and humiliated, left languishing caged in conditions not fit for a dog for nearly two months, without food for 20 days, for no crime other than her ethnicity.

We are here to ask your help in saving Heba, the honour of Jordan, from the clutches of Israeli torturers. Today Heba is in need of the full support of her country. We implore you to help her.

The Wadi Araba Agreement between Jordan and Israel gives you very strong leverage in pressuring the Israeli regime to free Heba. Our understanding is that at a time when the Israeli occupation refused Heba any visitation rights, your consul was able to visit her on 3rd September. Since then her torture has continued and she has started a hunger strike, but your consul has not revisited her for the past 42 days, this sends the wrong signal to the Israeli regime - it emboldens their torturers.

This Thursday 17th October Heba has an important hearing to confirm the criminal arbitrary 6 month sentence she has been given without even a charge let alone a trial. The Israeli regime has banned her lawyer and family from attending this hearing, so she stands defenceless in front of both a military judge and his prosecution team. If you choose to wield your considerable influence I am sure, as previously, your consul would be allowed to attend her hearing. Just his very presence besides her could persuade the judge to rescind the criminal detention order she faces.

Heba's mother has not been allowed to visit her daughter, please make representation with both the Israeli government and the ICRC to demand a mothers right to see her daughter.

We ask you not to abandon Heba, to stand with her proudly and defend her rights, to exert all your strength, that your people have entrusted in you, to secure her freedom.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

Abbas Ali

Chair,
Inminds Human Rights Group
www.inminds.com




London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon



London protest outside Jordanian Embassy demands action from Jordan to help free tortured Jordanian citizen Heba Labadi from Israeli dungeon

GALLERY


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