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Groups Exposing Israeli High Crimes Receive French Human Rights Award

Written by Subject: Israel

Groups Exposing Israeli High Crimes Receive French Human Rights Award

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)

On December 10, the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) awarded its annual Human Rights Award of the French Republic to the Ramallah-based Al-Haq Palestinian human rights group, and B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

The awards symbolically condemn ruthless Israeli apartheid rule - presented at the Ministry of Justice in Paris.

Accepting B'Tselem's award, its executive director Hagai El-Ad thanked the CNCDH, saying "(t)he occupation, in and of itself, is organized, prolonged state violence, which brings about dispossession, killings, and oppression," adding: 

"All branches of the state are part of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and bureaucrats." 

"Those who lead the opposition to this unjust reality are human rights organizations – precisely because we categorically reject violence and harm to civilians."

Addressing Israeli pressure on award decision-makers ahead of their public announcement, El-Ad said "(t)he hysterical response by Israeli government officials, attempting to prevent this prize from being awarded, illustrates the reality within which we work: propaganda, lies, and threats by a government which believes that silencing and coverup will enable further human rights violations." 

"In the face of this moral bankruptcy, we are here not only to further expose the truth – but also to bring an end to the injustice."

"We, at B'Tselem and Al-Haq, share the same values and the same realisation: that only by ending the occupation can there be a future based on human rights, equality and liberty."

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin expressed thanks for an award coming at a time of ruthless Israeli smear campaigns against his organization.

He called it "a great honor for Al-Haq to receive this prestigious award jointly with our colleagues at B'Tselem, who are our partners in the struggle for justice and a better future free from oppression and occupation."

"Together, we are working to end the culture of impunity so that Palestinians can enjoy the full realization of their human rights," adding:

Israel is "trying to close the space" for human rights workers in the country and Occupied Territories. The award to Al-Haq and B'Tselem was "for the victims in Palestine (in) recognition of their rights" - systematically and ruthlessly denied by Israel.

Since the 1948 Nabka and 1967 West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza occupation, "nothing has changed. The situation is deteriorating. The occupation is deepening, (and) the suffering is deepening," Jabarin stressed.

He called on the French government to do more than present symbolic awards. Vital action on the ground is needed - France, the West, and other countries no longer defending indefensible Israeli actions.

The CNCDH award, endowed by the French government, is titled "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite." Awarded annually since 1988, earlier recipients included human rights champions from Nicaragua, Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Cambodia, Colombia, Rwanda, France, and many other countries.

The award recognizes and supports individual and collective human rights initiatives in the following areas:

Defending and protecting the rights and welfare of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, disabled people according to provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and other initiatives in support of fundamental human rights.

Five winners are chosen annually. They're invited to Paris for the award ceremony, given a medal signifying the honor and 70,000 euros - presented by France's prime minister.

Five runner-ups are awarded a special medal by the French envoy in their country of origin.

There's nothing controversial about what Israeli critics labeled this way, furious over groups exposing the state's high crimes being honored in Paris.

To his shame, in deference to Israel, French justice minister Nicole Belloubet boycotted last Monday's award ceremony. His absence failed to diminish the significance of honoring human rights defenders critical of longstanding horrendous Israeli abuses.

Monday's award ceremony coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It took place the day after the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Former Israeli envoy to Washington/current undiplomatic neocon deputy diplomacy minister Michael Oren slammed the award - turning truth on its head, saying it went to organizations "defend(ing) terror."

Israel's embassy in France made similar disparaging remarks. Netanyahu expressed his displeasure along with other officials in his regime.

At this year's award ceremony, human rights defenders from China, Colombia, Belarus and Niger were also honored.

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