Rights groups file complaint against Hamas at UN for detention of Gaza activist
Dozens of rights groups have filed a complaint with a UN expert panel over the five-month detention in Gaza of a Palestinian activist who organised a video conference with left-leaning campaigners in Israel.
The coalition of 70 NGOs said they had lodged a complaint with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to demand the release of peace campaigner Rami Aman, detained by Hamas in Gaza on April 9.
The group, which bans all communications with Israel, arrested six members of the Gaza Youth Committee including Aman, the group's founder, after they spoke to dozens of Israeli activists online.
They accused them of "treason" and "normalisation" of relations with Israel after the call, made via video conference service Zoom.
The call, part of a series of discussions dubbed "Skype with your enemy", saw participants discuss their daily lives and expressed hopes for better leadership for both Israelis and Palestinians.
"Hamas's arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Aman for the crime of 'normalisation' is part of a pattern of repression and intimidation against dissidents who dare to speak out against the authoritarian regime," said Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a pro-Israeli group which is among the NGOs which filed the complaint.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is made up of five independent experts whose rulings carry reputational weight.
However, they have no power to compel states to follow their rulings and it can often take years before the panel reaches a verdict.
In addition to the complaint, the NGOs said Wednesday that they aimed to raise Aman's case during the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which kicks off next week.
Gaza's Hamas-run interior ministry said at the time of Aman's arrest that "establishing any activity or communication with the Israeli occupation under any excuse is a crime punishable by law, and is treason against our people".
Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist group, took control of Gaza in 2007 after a conflict with the rival Palestinian Fatah movement
Since then Israel has has fought three devastating wars in Gaza, killing thousands of Palestinian civilians, while maintaining a crippling blockade on the coastal strip.