Author Topic: Member of Newcastle Palestine Solidarity Campaign arrested by Israeli Army  (Read 1680 times)

John Tinmouth

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Original and first update

Mick Bowman, a member of the Newcastle branch of the Palestine Solidarity campaign, was arrested by the Israeli Army sometime on Friday, February 13th 2015.

Mick had recently gone to Palestine as part of the International Solidarity Movement of international activists who support the Palestinians, particularly in their struggle against Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank, and who go out jointly with Palestinians on protests.

There is a high-profile weekly protest at Bil'in, and this was where he was arrested yesterday. The following report of events at the protest is from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee of Bil'in. Israeli occupying forces were waiting near the old route of the wall, where they began firing tear gas canisters, sound grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets at the demonstrators, in order to prevent them reaching the wall. Ten activists were injured, one of them a journalist, while many others suffered from inhalation of tear gas. Two activists were arrested - one was Mohammed Khatib, a member of the Coordination Committee - the other was Mick. They were hit by Israeli soldiers in the course of their arrest.

Below are four pictures of Mick taken by activists as he is assaulted and arrested at the protest.







Below are some other pictures taken at the protest.










It is thought that, since the Israelis don't work on the Sabbath - though they probably make an exception for interrogation work - he will be deported, but that this will not take place until sometime next week.

Obviously, since Mick is in Israeli custody, there are as yet no details of his treatment by them. If he had been a Palestinian, no doubt he may have been very roughly handled - Israeli security forces have scant regard for Palestinian rights. However, they have to be rather more careful about the human rights of Europeans - if only for public relations purposes. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

The International Solidarity Movement are monitoring the situation very closely and are in touch with Mick's family. His sister reports that he is okay, though what this means in relation to the tender ministrations of the Israeli security forces is not clear.

Local Labour MP Ian Lavery has been informed. The matter is also to be brought up at Unison's National Executive Committee on Monday (Mick is a Unison official).

The British Consul has been informed by the family, and will take appropriate action.



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Second Update, on Sunday 15th February at 2.00pm

Mick was later released from custody. He sent us this report, received just before 10am on Sunday morning (15th February)

.... just to confirm that after being taken to court yesterday evening (Saturday) I was released with conditions, which are essentially that I do not travel to the West Bank for the remaining time before I fly back to the UK on 19th. ( I will leave it to you to judge whether or not I will be scrupulous in abiding by these conditions).

Oh, and just to let you know the army alleged that I had assaulted an IDF soldier and that was why they had detained and restrained me with "appropriate force" (standing on my hands and thumping me etc to get the plastic cuffs on and then pepper-spraying my eyes from a distance of 6 inches after I had been cuffed but  refused to stand up). 

The military were extremely aggressive from the outset in how they responded to what was a peaceful demonstration, one of the purposes of which was to pay tribute to the young American woman, Kayla Mueller who had been murdered in Syria by ISIS a few days previously: Kayla had been in the West Bank with ISM  for a couple of months 4 years previously and had joined the protests in Bil'in then. I gave up counting the number of tear gas grenades fired after I counted 50 or so - the eventual number will have been in the hundreds - and stun grenades and rubber coated steel bullets were fired at us all. (I've attached some of the photos I took to try and give a sense of what Palestinians have to face if they dare to stand up to the occupation)

My Palestinian comrade from the village of Bil'in who was arrested before me and treated in similarly appropriate fashion is called Mohamed Khatib : he's a bloke in his early 40s and a committed activist in the struggle for justice and he will fare much worse than me as he's Palestinian. After we were processed by the military and then interviewed by the Israeli civil police at one of the illegal West Bank settlements ( a place called Binyamin) he was taken off to the infamous Ofar prison close to Ramalla (incidentally, G4S set up and run the central control room at Ofar) and will be held there until Monday when he will be before the court.. I've spoken with his lawyer - the same guy who represented me and did great work - and he's hopeful that he will be released . I'll be following up what happens to Mohamed and will let you know.

When I was released last night and could access my phone (which somehow didn't get broken, tough things these Nokias, perhaps they should consider it for an advertising campaign ...), I was overwhelmed and really touched to see all the messages of support and solidarity from friends and comrades in the UK, thank you all, it really meant a lot to me.

Let's all redouble our efforts to work towards a free Palestine.

In solidarity,
Mick


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Third Update, on Monday 16th February at 2.30pm

A friend and fellow activist Tony Pierre spoke to Mick yesterday:
"I've spoken to him and he was in good spirits, arrested and accused of assaulting a police person, in fact he was objecting to mistreatment of another protester. The pictures we've seen had security forces standing on his hands and they sprayed pepper spray into his eyes from 6 inches - Stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets also used at this protest, without warning. Threatened with deportation and 10 year ban, which hasn't happened. Due back Newcaste Saturday after a night in London.'"

Mick' arrest and detention made the front page of today's Newcastle Journal, headlined Beaten because I dared to protest. Inside was a full-page story Detained, restrained and pepper-sprayed as I mountd my protest. - see www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/tyneside-campaigner-mick-bowman-arrested-8650866


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Fourth Update, on Tuesday 17th February at 1.30pm

The story of Mick's arrest and detention has now been reported on the Middle East Monitor website - see www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/17006-how-britains-pro-israel-lobby-invests-in-young-parliamentary-candidates

Mick has told us that it is being taken up by Jude Kirton Daleng (MEP) and some MPs as well.

He has also provided brief details regarding the situation of Mohammed Khatib, the Palestinian activist from Bil'in who was arrested just before Mick at the protest at Bil'in last Friday.
Mick says it's good news in that Mohammed was released from Ofar Prison on Sunday, after appearing in court and being bailed for 4,000 New Israeli Shekels (about 700). Mick is not sure if any other conditions were imposed as he hasn't yet been able to speak to him directly, but at least he's now back home.


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Final Update, on Monday 23rd February at 3.30pm

Mick flew back from the West Bank to the UK last Thursday, 19th February. He spent the next day with family in London, then returned by train to Newcastle on Saturday, where he was met by PSC supporters and family.

No doubt he will give his full story in due course.


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This website will be regularly updated with further news as we receive it. Details, including the footage of the arrest, are also on the Facebook page of the Newcastle branch of Palestine Solidarity campaign - go to www.facebook.com/newcastlepsc

No doubt Mick will in due course give us a full account of what happened, and it will be reported on this website.

Published February 14th 2015. Last updated Monday 23rd February at 3.30pm
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« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 03:29:33 PM by John Tinmouth »