Sunday, May 13, 2012

UNRWA changes its statement on hunger strikers

UNRWA changes its statement on hunger strikers

UNRWA posted the following on Thursday, according to Electronic Intifada which has screenshots:
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Filippo Grandi, expressed his grave concern about the current medical and health conditions of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

The Commissioner-General appealed to the Israeli government to find an acceptable solution, noting that the hunger strikers’ demands are generally related to the basic rights of prisoners, as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions.

Filippo Grandi reiterated the call of the Secretary-General of the United Nations that those under administrative detention be brought to trial or be set free, noting that two of the administrative detainees are in serious condition after more than 74 days, and are in imminent danger of death.

Then the statement was taken down, and this replaced it:
The statement on prisoners on hunger strike has been removed because it contained some inaccuracies, which are being checked.
Now it reads:
The Commissioner General of UNRWA, Filippo Grandi, is following with increasing concern the ongoing hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, in particular, those held as administrative detainees. He echoes the calls of the Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, and Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to reach a solution without delay.

The major difference, besides a softening of the rhetoric ("thousands of Palestinian political prisoners" changed to "Palestinian prisoners," "grave concern" into "increasing concern") is that UNRWA's original statement implies - incorrectly - that Israel's treatment of the prisoners does not adhere to the Geneva Conventions, and the updated statement no longer mentions Geneva. It also took out the part demanding that those under administrative detention be brought to trial or freed. (Of course, Western countries like the US and UK also use administrative detention.)

It is interesting that UNRWA corrected its mistake/slander for once.